Ever since Steph Curry broke out as one of the top players in the NBA—and one of the top earners in sneaker sales—much has been written and speculated about Under Armour's 2013 acquisition of the 2015 NBA MVP. While we may never know the sole reason for Curry's departure—if it can even be narrowed down to one—a new article from ESPN sheds some light on the bundle of straws that eventually broke the camel's back.
As ESPN staff writer Ethan Strauss reports, the breakdown between Curry and Nike can be traced back to the 2013 NBA off-season. That summer, Curry had voiced interest in heading a Nike-sponsored camp for up-and-coming ballers. This was especially important to Curry because he had fond memories of participating in a Chris Paul-led camp as a kid and wanted to carry on the torch. However, when it came time for Nike to make its decision, the brand chose Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis to run its camps instead of Curry.
As discouraging as it was, that was only the beginning. In August of 2013, Nike had an opportunity to sway Curry with a formal pitch meeting. As Steph's father Dell Curry recalls, things started to go south quickly, as Dell says a Nike rep opened the meeting by mispronouncing Stephen's name as "Steph-on."
The red flags began popping up immediately, and it only went downhill from there. Later, Nike loaded up a PowerPoint presentation that actually still had Kevin Durant's name on it—a misstep that Curry's father says was the final straw. "I stopped paying attention after that," Dell said.
It was clear that Nike didn't consider Curry an elite athlete, or, as Sonny Vaccaro puts it, a "stud with tight haircuts and muscles." According to Vaccaro, it was Curry's every-man persona and relatability that steered the Swoosh away. "Everything that makes him human and cuddly and an unlikely monster is anathema to Nike," Vaccaro said.
Ultimately, ESPN found that Curry's decision may have been heavily influenced by his former Warriors teammate Kent Bazemore, who Under Armour used as a catalyst of sorts to grab Steph's attention. "He was a rookie for us, and he got more gear and boxes in front of his locker every day than anybody else on the team," Curry said.
Catch up on the details of what is arguably the biggest sneaker shake-up of all-time now at ESPN.