Stephen Curry is about to enter a lifetime, billion-dollar agreement with Under Amour, according to the latest news from Rolling Stone. The 4x NBA champ was initially signed to Nike for his first four years in the league. But after the Swoosh infamously botched their follow-up pitch to him in 2013, Curry moved on to Under Armour, and the NBA’s first unanimous MVP hasn’t looked back since.
The lucrative deal is only the most recent feather-in-the-cap for Curry, too. This past May, the NBA’s All-Time leader in treys made finally completed his bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Davidson University, 13 years after he began. Just a few weeks later, Curry led the Golden State Warriors to their fourth championship in less than a decade, the sharpshooting point guard nabbed his first Finals MVP as well.
According to Baller Shoes DB, more than three-fourths of the NBA currently wears either Nike sneakers or their Jordan sub-brand. And when Curry came into the league, he joined Nike on a 4-yr./$10 million deal. So as that deal came towards its end, the then-budding star fielded a variety of offers from other athletic companies. And of course, Nike already had an inroad to Curry first. But instead of sealing the deal, the organization completely fumbled the meaning, from beginning to end.
“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,” ESPN reported in 2016. Dell Curry, Steph’s father, said he initially wasn’t surprised at the screwup. “‘I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction,'” the elder Curry told the outlet.
“It got worse from there,” ESPN said. “A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials.” And although Steph’s dad tried to “keep a poker face” for the rest of the meeting, the Curry clan was officially done with Nike that day.
Curry chose to go with a much smaller upstart sports apparel company from Baltimore, MD, called Under Armour. While they may not have had the same brand name value as the Swoosh, they offered Curry a contract of $4 million per year. He’d also get his own signature shoe and a legitimate crack at becoming the face of the company. And he recently sat down in April 2022 with his teammate Draymond Green for Green’s podcast to explain what internally motivated him to go with Under Armour in the end.
“It was an opportunity… there’s always that theme in the league, when somebody’s coming up with a contract extension or free agency or whatever, like, do you bet on yourself? Like, what does that mean? Like a Nerlens Noel-type situation, you have somebody like DeAndre Ayton right now, [examples of] guys that had good money on the table [thinking], ‘How it works out, we’ll see,'” Curry told Green. “But knowing that I [already] had four years on the court and got to survey the ‘shoe free agency’ situation, just see where I was at in that part of my career, building something from scratch, taking a chance to put my fingerprint on a brand from the ground up and have a company that was gonna invest [in] me, that was a huge opportunity.”
“And it was kind of going against the grain a little bit,” the superstar point guard added. “In terms of, at that time, the stable that Nike had. Everybody can talk about, ‘Oh they do it the best,’ and this and that. That’s a matter of opinion, but the fact that I got to go and get into the signature shoe game, build a brand, be able to inspire and [tell stories] around things that are important to me? Eight, nine years removed from that [first meeting]? And I got this frickin’ logo on my hat?! We hopefully have something that will continue to be part of the legacy for years and years to come. That was me betting on myself.”
Now, it looks like Steph Curry betting on himself has lined his pockets quite heavily.