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Steve Curry is about to make a billion dollars from Under Armor…and all thanks to Nike’s horribly failed 2013 presentation

By all rationale, Steve Curry must be a Nike athlete today. He should have signed with Nike a decade ago as he was beginning to lead the perpetually humble Golden State Warriors to championship contention status. Pardon the pun, but this deal was Nike’s biggest ever throw-in.

What kind of shoes did Steve wear in college? nike.

What kind of shoes did Stephen Del Curry’s father wear at the end of his NBA career? Nike.

What kind of shoes did Steve wear in his early years in the NBA? nike.

Where did Steve’s godfather do right when he became a rising star in the league? nike.

So what company did Steve sign with in 2013 when he needed a new shoe contract?

under the shield

And what company is about to pay Steve a billion dollars to wear their products for the rest of his life? Once again, Under Armour.

As mentioned earlier, by all means of rationality, Steve Curry should be a Nike athlete by now. His current Under Armor contract expires in 2024. If the rumors are true, Steph Curry will be wearing Under Armor until… it expires. And all thanks to a horribly failed presentation on the Nike campus in 2013.

(Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Nike drops the ball

After being drafted as the seventh pick in the first round of the 2009 draft, Steve Curry’s first few years in the NBA were plagued by leg injuries. He spent those frustrating first few years wearing Nikes under a deal that expired after the 2013 season.

In 2013, Steve Curry led the Warriors to the semi-finals of the Western Conference. Best show for the team in years.

Riding this wave and the perfect timing for his deal, Steve and his team (his father) went knocking on Nike’s door hoping/assuming they could secure a lucrative long-term endorsement partnership. After all, Steve was a rising star, he was already wearing Knicks, the deal was done, his father had ties to the company and his godfather was a Nike CEO. To fine-tune the deal, Steve was keen to run a rookie camp sponsored by Nike like the one he attended years earlier which was led by Nike athlete Chris Paul and his game and self-confidence dramatically improved.

What should have been the easiest shooter ever for Nike ended in disaster.

First, instead of sending a senior member of the company’s management…or maybe even the CEO…Nike offended the Currys by sending a mid-level marketing manager to make his pitch.

Second, Nike at the meeting expressed reluctance to want Stephen to lead the camp. They weren’t sure he had the star power they wanted. Nike eventually chose Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis to lead its camps that summer.

pitch failure

But Nike’s biggest mistake came during the actual pitch.

First, a Nike executive in the room kept referring to Steph as “Steph-on,” like the way you pronounce “Stephon Marbury.” The correct pronunciation is “Steph-en”. Not “Stephen,” but Stephen, as in rhymes with “Aven.” One way or another, the error was not corrected even after the unqualified Nike team repeatedly made the mistake during the pitch. This really upset Del Cary.

But this really wasn’t the worst crime. The worst offense lies in the actual Nike chips.

As they passed the deck, it became apparent that the slides that were supposed to be a step intended for Stephen Curry, had actually been recycled from their other pitch presentation earlier. How did they know? Because one slide had Kevin Durant’s name all over it. It was cut and paste.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. As they walked off the Nike campus, a frustrated Del told Steve:

“Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

Whatever Steve decided, there was a problem. Nike offered a contract that would pay $2 million per season, a significant amount to consider at a time when he was earning only about $3 million in NBA salary. More importantly, Nike also had the right to match any competing bid that Steve had.

Under armor pounces in

When Under Armor got word that Steph Curry was playing, the company began sending boxes and crates of the free stuff not just to Steph, but to the entire Warriors organization. This sowed a seed.

Then, Under Armor exploited the warrior who was already under their banner, Kent Bazemore. During late-night shooting practice, Kent laid out the pitch. At Nike Steve will be one of a hundred players in the company. One rung on the ladder. With Under Armor, Steph will be the ladder. Not just the face and star of his own shoe line (which Nike wasn’t offering either), but the face and star of the entire company.

Kent Bazemore wasn’t just doing this to earn points with the executives at Under Armor. He believed in the company. After being ditched by Nike himself, Under Armor gave Bazemore a deal that paid six figures each year at a time when his NBA salary was only about $400,000.

Steve is satisfied. But there was the question of Nike’s ability to match any show.

Under Armor doubled Nike’s bid with a contract paying $4 million in the first year. Perhaps Nike could find the difference – $2 million – in the sofa cushions. But somehow, Nike got away.

Two years later, in 2015, Steve Warriors won the NBA Championship. In the off-season, Steve signed an extension that immediately raised his annual salary from Under Armor from $4 million to $10 million and most recently to $20 million. The extension also kept him with the company until 2024.

Fast forward to the present and Steve Curry is about to sign a $1 billion lifetime deal with Under Armour. A deal that would far outstrip all of the money Steve has earned so far in his career from NBA salary and endorsements outside of Under Armour. The bargain hat should never exist in the first place under all rational circumstances.

Congratulations to Steve and everyone else reading this – check out the Power Points slides before applying!

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