Why Did Stephen Curry Sign With Under Armour?

Steph Curry

Stephen Curry is regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time and arguably the best shooter of all time. These labels were not as easy to place on Curry when he was first coming into the league. Although Curry was the seventh overall selection in the 2009 draft out of Davidson, many were skeptical of his lack of size, strength, and passing ability. Curry was formerly a Nike athlete until his contract expired in 2013, allowing him to explore other options. Steph Curry landed at Under Armour because of Nike’s lack of attention to the new negotiations, Under Armour's persistent recruiting tactics, and his daughter Riley's preference.

Nike’s Mistakes

Curry signed with Nike at the start of his NBA career, mostly enjoying the historic brand and their comfortable shoes. In 2013, Curry was all set to re-sign with the sneaker brand powerhouse until a disastrous meeting made him second-guess his initial decision. In the meeting, Nike executives were proposing their plans for developing Curry’s star power. The executive giving the presentation continually called Stephen “Steph-on” Curry. Later in the presentation, one of the slides also referred to Kevin Durant instead of Curry, basically showing that Nike was reusing the slide show they pitched to Kevin Durant. This made Curry feel like much less of a priority to the brand and caused him to open up negotiations with both Adidas and Under Armour.

Under Armour's Persuasion

In 2013, Under Armour was a large brand but had not garnered much interest in the NBA world, as they were far behind competitors like Nike, Jordan, and Adidas. To get ahead, Under Armour copied Nike’s strategy for attracting Michael Jordan to their brand from his attachment to Adidas. As Nike opted to attract Jordan through his parents, Under Armour chose to attract Curry through his teammate Kent Bazemore.

Under Armour started by giving Bazemore the royal treatment, gifting him free gear and leaving boxes and boxes of shoes in his locker before games and practices. This got to the point where a bench player like Bazemore was getting more free gear than anyone else on the team. Bazemore almost became a spokesman for the brand, often selling Curry on the idea of a possible switch. Curry cited Bazemore as one of the main reasons why he ultimately decided to sign with Under Armour.

Riley’s Choice

After all of the pitches and meetings from Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, Curry was still torn on what decision he was going to make. With a pair of all three brands of sneakers on his table, he jokingly asked his then 1-year-old daughter Riley which shoes she liked the most. Riley responded by throwing the Nikes and Adidas’ on the ground and handing the Under Armour sneaker to Curry. Curry claims that moment was the final straw, and he signed with Under Armour shortly after.