Yasiel Puig, Kevin Durant, Lindsey Vonn: The New Ratings Gods of Sports (Photos)

The Hollywood Reporter's photo portfolio also includes Yankees slugger Robinson Cano and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III; as ratings and the price of rights soar, athletes are TV's new stars.

Kevin Durant

Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder

Aside from hoisting the championship trophy, few honors have eluded Durant during six years in the NBA.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star, 24, has nabbed the regular-season scoring title three times, won Olympic gold in London and memorably squared off against LeBron James' Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals (the series’ decisive game pulled in 18.4 million viewers on ABC).

In 2010, the Washington, D.C., native signed a five-year contract extension with the Thunder reportedly worth $86 million, and he’s already preparing for future negotiations: In June, Durant became the first basketball player to sign with Jay Z's agency Roc Nation Sports.

PHOTOS: The Multibillion-Dollar Business of Hollywood Sports Rights

“I thought it would be cool to have a group that’s focused on helping me out and helping me grow off the court,” he tells THR, adding, “My mind-set is: Play the game the right way, you win, you show people what kind of player you are, then the endorsements or the off-the-court stuff will come.” (He now has contracts with Sprint, Gatorade, sports memorabilia company Panini, General Electric, game developer 2K Sports and Nike, with earnings adding up to an estimated $13 million a year.)

Durant singled out the star-studded Staples Center as one of his favorite places to play; it’s where he met Denzel Washington and “told him I was a big fan.” Asked if he contemplates life post-NBA, Durant says: “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. The years have been going past so quickly.”

-- Erik Hayden 

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