How NextVR created a virtual reality experience to help the Golden State Warriors sign Kevin Durant
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NextVR executive chairman Brad Allen isn’t sure how USA Today learned of the Warriors enlisting the company to create a virtual reality experience in order to help convince free agent Kevin Durant to come to Golden State
But with NextVR’s role having been made public months ago, Allen spoke Wednesday at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference in New York about how the Warriors’ general manager had been very much interested to have virtual reality be used in the team’s presentation to the free agent Durant.
“He goes, ‘The only thing he’s going to remember is what he sees in VR,'” Allen recalled the Warriors general manager saying. “And he was talking about KD, of course. He couldn’t say that at the time. So we ended up creating a Warriors experience. He goes, because you can’t take a player and bring him into the locker room and everything else. He’s playing for another team. So we actually put together a Warriors experience in the huddle, in the locker room, practice, all those kind of things, in the tunnel going out. And I guess it worked. I guess it helped.”
According to USA Today, Durant put on a VR headset during the team’s presentation at the Hamptons so he could see shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, coach Steve Kerr talking inside the locker room, and a courtside view at Oracle Arena along with music from Drake. The experience was designed to show the longtime Oklahoma City Thunder star what it would have felt like to play for the Warriors.
But did it work?
“It was like one of those things if the production quality was good, it was like OK, it’s a decent idea. You kind of want to bring something to the table. And then he put it on, and I think it malfunctioned at first,” Kerr told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “And within a couple of minutes, Rich Kleiman, his agent, was like, ‘Alright, let’s move on. Kevin wants to know what it would be like if he’s going to be a Warrior.’ And I kind of chuckled. I’m thinking ‘Well, we were kind of trying to show him.’ But that didn’t work. So it was all about our players.”
As Warriors CEO Joe Lacob told the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami: “We had a visual presentation — sort of one of these sales types of things you do sometimes — that we were gonna start off the meeting with. We never used it actually.”
Warriors co-owner Peter Guber became a board member and shareholder at NextVR in 2015. Later that year, NextVR worked with the NBA and Turner Sports to enable fans to view the first live professional sports game in virtual reality — the Warriors’ season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. That was during the game when the Warriors received their NBA championship rings, and now they are in line to collect some more jewelry with Durant helping them start the season with the league’s best record.