Nike is all about winning. It puts out the best product year after year and last week’s Innovation For Everybody showcase proved that the brand is still pumping out some of the most advanced athletic gear out there. More importantly it was a statement saying loudly that it recognizes the growing competition, and a word like complacency is simply not in its vocabulary. Speaking of competition, the sole reason why Under Armour is in the conversation is Steph Curry. In late 2013, Curry left Nike for Under Armour, and it’s widely accepted that the reason for his departure was that Under Armour just made a far more lucrative offer and that Nike didn’t really see Curry’s potential as a pitch-man. Steph went on to have an MVP and Championship season, and somehow he topped that 2014-2015 campaign with an even better year. Couldn’t have written it any better for Under Armour and vice versa for Nike, but new details regarding Nike’s last-ditch pitch to Steph near the end of 2013 makes their decision to let him walk appear laughable.
According to ESPN True Hoop, Steph Curry’s camp, led by father Dell, said that Nike never saw him as a top tier player. He was never offered an offseason Nike basketball camp for youth (instead given Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving) and it was clear to them that Steph was never considered in the tier among LeBron, KD, and Kobe. Was Nike wrong? Absolutely not. Nobody predicted Steph’s insane breakout, not Nike and not even Under Armour, but there were clear signs that that game was evolving in favor of Steph, giving him the opportunity to be considered an elite player (record-breaking season, trip to Western Semi-finals). Here are the juicier details: In August of 2013, Nike and Steph’s camp had a meeting in Oakland to discuss his future with the brand. Leading the meeting was Nico Harrison, who incorrectly pronounced Steph’s name and accidentally left Kevin Durant’s name on a powerpoint presentation made to the Currys (which led them to believe that the presentation itself was a copy-paste, basic job). True Hoop’s article goes much deeper into the Under Armour deal and the world of sneakers, so check it out here.