Over the last several years, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has become one of the most popular professional athletes globally. Curry‘s tremendous amount of success this decade with the Warriors along with his rise to stardom has made him an endorsement giant that has seen many sponsorship deals head his way. Before he truly took off into elite status in the league, Nike had their chance to ink him to a contract but blew that opportunity allowing Under Armour to swoop in to snag arguably their most prominent athlete.
Stephen Curry’s promising rise
Curry had entered the league with plenty of questions around his ability to transition to the next level.
He had put together an impressive collegiate career at Davidson, but many had their doubts that his small frame would work against him becoming a star in the NBA. However, he quickly put that chatter to bed with his production on the court.
Curry had become one of the more exciting players in the league to watch behind his playmaking and shooting ability through his first four seasons. The 2012-13 campaign was his breakout year with then-career best numbers with 22.9 points and 6.9 assists while shooting 45.3% from beyond the arc.
He had become the driving force to the Warriors’ rise as they had their first five seasons and had reached the Western Conference semifinals. All of that set up what would be a crucial summer for him off the court.
How Nike blew their meeting with Stephen Curry
Curry headed into the 2013 offseason, with plenty of steam after what was the most productive and successful campaign of his brief career.
That put him in an intriguing spot in the offseason with Nike having the opportunity to sign Curry on an endorsement deal with his stardom beginning to rise. The company had their shot at inking him to a lucrative contract, but that scenario was blown after a botched meeting with the star guard that saw a representative mispronounce his name, among other things, according to Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.
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.
There was also the indication that Nike didn’t view Curry as being a signature athlete with the company. His father, Dell Curry, voiced that they would have had him on the “second tier” below the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. There were many mistakes in the presentations that didn’t rub the Warriors star guard the right way.
Under Armour swooped in to land Stephen Curry
With Nike screwing up the meeting with Curry, it allowed Under Armour the opportunity to make a strong impression and land him.
The company was direct and made their intentions known to rising star point guard that gave him every indication that they would be more than willing to provide him with a signature shoe and give him the chance to become the face of the business. Under Armour also upped the ante by offering him a deal that would pay him $4 million a year, which Nike decided against matching the money.
It has been one of the best business decisions that Under Armour has made, which has helped them net millions of dollars from their dealings with Curry. He has become one of the most recognizable professional athletes and is one of the faces of the NBA. He has become a generational talent that has inspired the next upcoming talent after him.
It’s a mistake that Nike will always regret as it could have helped take their business to tremendously great heights with Curry on board.