Panini America, the NBA’s exclusive trading card and sticker partner, has signed Kevin Durant as an official company spokesman and “trading card ambassador”.
Durant’s exclusive multi-year agreement with the company includes autographs and memorabilia, and adds to Panini America’s roster of NBA talent that also includes Kobe Bryant and Rookie of the Year candidate John Wall.
Durant leads the NBA in scoring at 28.9 points per game and is averaging nearly 26 for his career, which began in Seattle before the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.
We first told you about talks between Panini and Durant last April, when The Daily Oklahoman reported that the two camps had been discussing a deal. It didn’t happen in time for the start of the current season, but Panini says Durant will make his debut on packaging and in the company’s Absolute Memorabilia cards scheduled to be released in a couple of weeks.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the Panini family and join great players like Kobe Bryant and John Wall for this partnership,” said Durant in a Panini news release published on his website. “The idea of being on a trading card with Kobe is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to see it happen.”
Panini holds NBA, NHL and NFL trading card licenses. They became the exclusive trading card partner of the NBA beginning with the 2009-10 season. The Panini Group purchased the industry’s second-oldest trading-card company, Donruss in March 2009 and formed the new subsidiary, Panini America, Inc.
The leagues are counting on the company’s footprints overseas to grow its share of the market and Durant’s appearance in international competition over the last couple of years won’t hurt that goal from a hoops perspective.
“We are excited to add Kevin Durant as an exclusive Panini athlete, Kevin is one of those dynamic players that is fun to watch and is a player that excites collectors. We are pleased that Kevin has now joined the Panini family, he will be a pillar of Panini’s NBA business for years to come,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America.