We all equate Under Armor with Steph Curry, but once upon a time, Curry had a shoe deal with Nike and was a part of their team. How did an established brand like Nike lose one of the biggest stars in the game? The reason is bizarre.
Nike is the most widely spread brand in the NBA, as they represent a staggering 74% of the whole NBA roster, including names like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and many more superstars. It would seem fitting to have Stephen Curry on that list, as he had a relative inside the corporation and wore Nikes in his teenage and college days. So when Nike offered him a contract after getting drafted in 2009, it was a no-brainer for Steph, as he signed a 4-year deal with the company.
Curry’s start in the NBA was up and down, as he was battling constant ankle injuries. But in that final year of the Nike contract, he started to explode onto the scene. The world learned his name when he dropped 54 at MSG and broke the NBA record for threes made in a single season. It was the beginning of the illustrious legacy Curry would maintain to this day. Nike knew they had to keep him and renew his contract.
He listened to offers from various company’s, but Nike had one of the first shots. They would set up a meeting with Steph and his father Dell to present their pitch. The atmosphere wasn’t great as Steph felt Nike didn’t view him as a top-tier athlete like LeBron or KD because of not complying with some of his demands.
They offered him a 2.5$ million deal, which was too low for a player of his caliber. Their next mistake would happen during their slideshow in which they forgot to replace Durant’s name with Curry’s in one slide, revealing they were just using the same recycled presentation for him. But to cap it all off and ruin the whole thing, the Nike representative that was pitching him called Curry by the wrong name, addressing him by Stephon. It was the turning point as Steph, and his father weren’t interested anymore and turned down the offer.
Under Armour would take advantage of the opportunity and sign Curry to a 4$ million deal. The key to signing him wasn’t the money. It was the feeling of respect and prioritization. All of his demands were met, as he got the chance to put Bible verses on his shoes and was given partial ownership of the company. A feat no other athlete in sports history with a major brand achieved.
But it would pay off, as, in just two short years, Curry would double the value of Under Armour from 14$ billion to 28$ billion dollars. Under Armour wouldn’t make the same mistake Nike did, as they signed Curry to a major new contract rumored to be worth around 1$ billion dollars till 2024. Curry himself said the move to UA was one of the best moves in his career, as he really established himself as the face of that brand. Hopefully, Nike learned from their mistake and will remember their athlete’s names in future pitches.