Before Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors, he took individual meetings with six teams at a rented mansion in the Hamptons.
The suitors all took different approaches in their presentation: the Clippers reportedly blew Durant away with their pitch, during which owner Steve Ballmer was said to have broke down in tears. Pat Riley, it’s safe to assume, threw his nine rings down on the table. The Celtics enlisted Tom Brady.
The Warriors, meanwhile, used virtual reality.
According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, Silicon Valley’s local basketball team — perhaps unsurprisingly — used tech to their recruiting advantage. They presented Durant with a V.R. headset, which showed him vistas of the Bay Area, shots of the team’s practice facility, new stadium and locker room in San Francisco, and plenty more. Drake played in the background, because of course he did.
“There were shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, footage from the Warriors practice facility, of coach Steve Kerr talking to his team inside the Oracle Arena locker room and even a courtside view inside the building where there had been so much basketball bliss. There was music in the NextVR production, too, a song that had long since become a favourite in the Warriors’ circles and, in the end, was quite perfect for the moment.
“I got a really big team, and they need some really big rings,” the lyrics by renowned rapper, Drake, played. “Man, what a time to be alive … Oh you switchin’ sides? Wanna come with me?”
Sure, it’s easy to mock the Warriors for this. Of course the team owned by a Silicon Valley venture capitalist — an owner who has said his team is “light years ahead” of the rest the NBA because of how it resembles a tech company — is the one using virtual reality to court free agents. Did Joe Lacob pitch Durant on disrupting the pick-and-roll, too?
But for as easily-mockable as the Warriors using virtual reality to lure Durant may be, ultimately it worked better than anything the other five teams could offer. Having Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Steve Kerr probably helped, too.
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