Surely a company that’s as business savvy as Nike can have almost any athlete they want, right? LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant all signed with Nike and are global icons. Steph Curry has now risen into that stratosphere, but he wants nothing to do with them.
Back in the early days of Curry’s career, the time when he had “glass ankles,” Steph was someone who donned the Nike logo. After his contract expired, he would go on to sign with Under Armour. Little did Nike know that Curry partnering with Under Armour would totally flip the script on the sneaker world.
If you don’t believe that, go to Foot Locker’s website and go to the “performance basketball shoes” section. The Curry 2 is ahead of the LeBron 13, Kyrie 2, and Air Jordan XXX. While he’s not first, he’s second to the Kobe 11 and sales are higher for that because this is Kobe’s last season.
In term’s of financials, Nike is head-and-shoulders above UA and their annual report for 2015 revealed revenues topping $30B. Under Armour is right below $4B. Jordan Brand being a subsidiary of Nike is key to their massive income, and the two companies (Nike and Jordan) manage to control over 95% of the basketball shoe market.
So, what was the tipping point for Curry leaving the Swoosh and enlisting with Kevin Plank? Nike showed a severe disinterest in Steph. Ethan Strass of ESPN wrote a very extensive article on this and it’s work checking out if you want the full backstory.
Nike had set a date to sit down with the Steph & Dell Curry to sell them on resigning, but the pitch was flummoxed. Strauss wrote that Nike addressed Stephen as ‘Steph-on’ which was common, according to Dell. What else was common is that most people corrected themselves, which the representatives didn’t bother to do. The Curry’s interest started waning.
Following that, it was evident that Nike didn’t bother to edit the presentation, as a subsequent slide revealed Kevin Durant’s name. After that, it was pretty much a done deal that Stephen Curry wouldn’t be rejoining Nike. Simply because Nike had no interest in him.
Can you blame them, though? Although Curry did have a fantastic 2012-13 season, I doubt Nike believed that he would become more profitable than LeBron James, whose recent lifetime deal with Nike is worth upwards of $500 million. They were focused on other guys who they felt would represent that brand better and put all their energy towards Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis.
The athletes of Nike basketball have an aura of abnormality, in a good way. LeBron, Kobe, KD, they all have assets and physical traits that make fans feel like they’re not human. Steph, on the other hand, is incredibly average looking, and some of ESPN’s sources believe that played a significant role in Nike moving on. Although the decision was made for Curry to go UA, Nike still had the chance to match the offer that was presented. At the time, Under Armour offered less than $4 million, chump change for Nike.
They declined to match.
Since Steph’s arrival to Under Armour, they’ve grown significantly, and revenue is up 70% from 2013. The company who sponsors the likes of Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Bryce Harper now has the biggest name in basketball working with them, and they’re poised to battle with Nike.