stephen-curry-under-armour

The current layer of conversation regarding Steph Curry has nothing to do with his exploits on the court. He’s the likely back-to-back NBA MVP, leader of a team threatening to break the ’96 Bulls fabled 72-10 regular season mark. Instead, all of the current sights on Curry can be found off the court, namely in the business world and the ultra-competitive market of sneakers. Curry’s Under Armour signature kicks are now Bay Area staples and despite the slander they receive as being nothing more than a “basketball shoe”, Curry’s mere presence on UA has upped their basketball sales to over 350 percent year to date. His worth to the company? $14 billion.

According to some belief, Curry rides with Under Armour, one of the sporting world’s more popular apparel brands because of the fact Nike wouldn’t allow Curry to write Bible verses on its shoes. That, has proven to be false time and time again. The real reason why Steph Curry is the face of Under Armour and could potentially earn more off the court than he ever makes in a Golden State Warriors jersey?

Nike, just like the rest of us was shortsighted in believing Steph Curry could be any more than a good but not transcendently great point guard.

In an extensive feature for ESPN, Ethan Sherwood Strauss broke down the varying factors in Curry leaving Nike for UA. From his daughter Riley to getting boxed in from a marketing perspective from former Warriors teammate and current Hawks forward Kent Bazemore, UA slowly reeled Curry in. Remember, the same company offered $300 million to Maryland boy Kevin Durant in 2014 before Durant opted to sign back with Nike. A year prior however, Curry was up for resigning with the Swoosh but wanted to know that his attachment to the brand would be solidified beyond just sneakers.

Curry had just finished his best pro season in 2013. He along with the Warriors upset the 60-win Denver Nuggets and found their way into the Western Conference Semi-Finals, ultimately losing to the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games. His breakout game, the 54-show he put on at Madison Square Garden occurred in a pair of Nike’s. He still has those shoes in his house. His godfather works for Nike. He was a Nike kid from birth. How did it all go wrong? A 2013 meeting in Oakland, where disrespect kicked in.

According to Strauss, Nike’s normal power broker Lynn Merritt wasn’t present. Nico Harrison, who was a sports marketing director for Nike ran the meeting. Curry wanted to lead a Nike-sponsored basketball camp in a way to give back to players the same way it happened with him when he attended Chris Paul’s camps. Nike instead chose to give camps to Kyrie Irving & Anthony Davis. Worse? The pitch meeting lead with a calamity of errors.

The pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as “Steph-on,” the moniker, of course, of Steve Urkel’s alter ego in Family Matters. “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” says Dell Curry. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”

It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. “I stopped paying attention after that,” Dell says. Though Dell resolved to “keep a poker face,” throughout the entirety of the pitch, the decision to leave Nike was in the works.

From that moment on, the seeds were planted for Curry to bolt from Nike. Not seen as a priority with a company that had for decades fetishized around athletic wings (Jordan, Kobe, LeBron), Curry waited until his contract was up with Nike to sign elsewhere. Thanks to Under Armour first netting his Warriors teammate Bazemore and Riley throwing Nike & Adidas shoes before handing her father an Under Armour one, Curry knew where he needed to be.

And the rest? History.

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