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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Updated: June 15, 12:56 PM ET
Kelly and Quik Together Again

Kelly and Quik, it's like peanut butter and jelly.

By now everybody and their mother knows: Kelly Slater's signed a five-year deal with Quiksilver. "Quiksilver's been family to me for so long it's hard to remember a time before them," said Kelly in a statement to the press.

Then, he cryptically continued, "It might not come as a surprise to many people that I've re-signed with them, but there have been major transitions in my life and many changes within Quiksilver."

Well, to be honest, it came as a surprise to me. The conspiracy theorist in me's been going hog-wild regarding Kelly's endorsement deal. I've had this long-standing inclination that Kelly was going to leave Quik and join Tiger and Jordon on the Nike campus.

I'm glad he's not, that'd be worse than Joe Montana playing for the Kansas City Chiefs or Jordan and the Wizards. But I must admit, part of me really thought that Kelly was gone.

I have absolutely nothing but circumstantial evidence and hearsay to support my theory, but hear me out:

My suspicions arose this winter while Kelly was staying up in Santa Barbara, noodling around in Al Merrick's shaping bay. A photo of the champ surfaced in which he had no Quik logos on his self-made board. A tribute to Curren? Hardly. This is also right about the same time Quik was in the financial hurt-locker, when people were being laid off left and right.

I asked a friend about it and he said Kelly had only just signed a short contract extension with Quik; he suspected Kelly wanted to wait to see if the company could pull through the economic downturn.

Following this unconfirmed bit of speculation, I soon heard rumor that Kelly had been up in Oregon flying around in Phil Knight's helicopter. Outlandish? Yes. But when I pressed another friend who's affiliated with Nike about it he squirmed and said he couldn't say anything because of a non-disclosure agreement he had signed. I really felt like I was on to something now.

Skip ahead a couple of months and I'm down at Trestles at the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro when just by happenstance both Kelly and USC football coach Pete Carroll show up at the same time. How convenient I thought...noting the big swoosh embroidered on Pete's polo shirt. Something had to be up. I mean, really, how many WQS contests does Kelly go to just to hang out?

A couple weeks later Kelly lost in Tahiti and in a post-heat interview explained that he'd had a lot on his mind lately, but that it would all be resolved in a week or two. Knowing he's not one to divulge too much about his personal life, I figured he wasn't talking about asking his girl to marry him. It had to be the Nike deal. That was it. I thought I was a hero; that I was going to scoop the world with this one.

My suspicions were only further reinforced when I met up with another associate who has ties to both the banking world and the L.A. athlete/agent scene. He explained how the only thing holding the deal up was that they were trying to figure out what to do regarding Kelly's stock holdings/options. He even said he wouldn't be surprised if Nike just bought Quik outright. We couldn't figure out why Nike would want Quik seeing as they already own Hurley, but that was beside the point.

Alas, as the story breaks around the world today, I was very obviously wrong. Or was I?

"Kelly's agreement to accept a significant portion of his compensation in the form of Quiksilver stock demonstrates his confidence in Quiksilver and our future prospects," says Quik CEO Bob McKnight.

Maybe there was something Quik not having deep enough pockets to keep Kelly. Maybe there was something to the stock issue after all. Either way, it's a moot point now. The ink is dry and Kelly's still with the Mountain and the Wave.