NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who turned 26 on September 29, walked into a Redskins-themed birthday party last week, which was thrown by Nike at their Beaverton, Oregon headquarters.
The Washington D.C. native attends NFL games at FedEx Field and even sent the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, a pair of sneakers -- Snyder sent him a football after the team’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 14. His birthday cake, in the shape of a basketball court, had a Redskins jersey on one end, and his signature shoe on the other.
Dan Synder sent Durant a football after the team's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars
The Washington Post reports that the party for Durant was to say thank you (and happy birthday) for not leaving Nike for endorsement opportunities with Under Armour. Durant appears in Nike’s “The Baddest” ads; and has teamed up with Nike’s N7 (their mission is to inspire and enable two million Native American youth to participate in physical activities).
But Durant’s “Redskins-themed” birthday party is drawing ire from some Native Americans. The group, Eradicating Offensive Native Masctory (EONM), which has protested at Nike headquarters, issued a press release condemning the company for supporting the Redskins while, at the same time, hosting the N7 Sports Summit, an event that supports the grassroots efforts of Native American families.
RELATED: Nike Responds to EONM Protest
“It is more important than ever that Nike demonstrate support for Native American families particularly after Nike's insulting racial slur themed birthday party last week for National Basketball Association player Kevin Durant,“ EONM said in a news release. “Nike Inc. has demonstrated that part of what they want Native American families to do is trade in their identity for inclusion because they want to sell a culturally marketable shoe or other merchandise to Native Americans and yet, still sell "Chief Wahoo," Tomahawk chop, FSU, Chiefs, and Washington team gear for profit as well.”
Via Washington Redskins
Snyder wears a pair of shoes that Kevin Durant sent him
The group also compares Nike to Dan Snyder’s Original American Foundation.
“We may be consumers,” EONM said, “but our culture has been a mass marketing commodity for far too long and is an exploitation that is doing measurable harm to the self worth of Native children. Nike must support Native Americans speaking out about Native Mascotry in sports otherwise it looks like all the good N7 is wanting to do is more about bribery than empowerment. That form of bribery is nothing new and looks much like Dan Snyder's Original Americans Foundation.”
Could this ire be slightly misguided? Well, you be the judge.
Despite harsh criticism toward the sneaker company, Nike and Durant have teamed up to help the Native community in
Durant was presented a pair of his Nike shoes in the Redskins's colors, burgundy and gold
“Playing in Oklahoma City has connected me to the mission of Nike N7 and the meaningful impact that it has with Native Americans here and across North America,” Durant said in a Nike press release in 2013. “I believe in the power of sport to change lives, and I support helping youth in Native American communities experience the positive benefits of being physically active.”