Golden Opportunity: Why Stephen Curry’s Switch To Under Armour Was A Major Offseason NBA Move
The list of NBA players primed to make big impacts in their new cities is pretty stellar this season. Brooklyn signed three former Celtics, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Cleveland inked a $25 million-dollar deal with former Los Angeles Laker and short time Philly fixture, Andrew Bynum and the Golden State Warriors brought in veteran super-wing Andre Iguodala to offset the Splash Bros., Klay Thompson and Stephon Curry.
While all those moves made headlines this summer, it’s Curry’s recent shoe company switch from Nike to Under Armour that will have the biggest affect for this season and years to come. Here are the key reasons why his move to UA is so significant.
All about the branding, baby
When asked why leading the charge for change was so important to him, Under Armour basketball’s “Curator of Cool,” Brandon Jennings has always said blazing his own path and taking a chance with a young brand was important for him. Other young stars like Greivis Vasquez, former UA signee DeAndre Jordan and current killer crossover expert, Kemba Walker listened, and chose to try a shoe company that would invest in them.
Curry’s become a bigger star than all the aforementioned and as the Warriors climb into the upper echelon of league excellence, so do his opportunities to be seen. Of course aligning with the swoosh is never, ever, a bad idea, but Steph’s chances of becoming a signature shoe type were about as high as JR Smith on his Instagram over the summer. Wait, no, that doesn’t work because that’s mad high. OK, Curry’s chances of a signature shoe were the exact opposite of how high JR was over the summer. But at Under Armour, he’s the biggest fish in a small pond, that’s slowly growing into a lake.
When UA founder Kevin Plank & Co. decided to cross into the basketball shoe world with Brandon Jennings, it was the dawn of something daring. Jennings was on the cusp of challenging the one-and-done process that doesn’t allow high school to jump straight to the league by playing professionally in Europe for a year. UA took a bold, brash kid from Compton and made him the face of their new venture and for a while, it worked. Jennings has the charisma to be the face of almost anything, but, so far, his numbers haven’t equaled All-Star games, playoff pushes or the other check points you need hold a brand up on your own.
With Curry, Under Armour has an on camera odd-couple that will make for a bright future. Curry should’ve been an all-star last year, and will be one this season. He’s also what the new model citizen sell the NBA is pushing: skilled enough to win love on the streets, but a family man with a bright smile and no tattoos. To give a clearer understanding, picture Grant Hill and Allen Iverson under the same sneaker company in 96. It’s kinda like that.
Curry wasn’t the only ball player to switch up the laces this summer. Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo recently announced that he was leaving Nike for Chinese based brand, ANTA. While the kicks don’t look like hot garbage, the marketing team for ANTA never seems interested on pushing product over in the States, which limits Rondo’s reach. Los Angeles Clipper’s Center DeAndre Jordan made his move from Under Armour to Nike amid rumors that he wanted a crazy shoe deal and couldn’t reach terms for an extension.
The Golden Guard’s UA signing overshadows these moves because a) Rondo will probably miss a good portion of the season with his ACL injury and b) DeAndre Jordan is a phenomenal athlete who can dunk, but doesn’t command the attention that a top 10 player in the league does which limited what UA could offer him. While Curry has been known to suffer injuries in the past, he’s healthy now and rocking Under Armour’s newest, and arguably best designed, shoe the UA Spawn Anatomix this year. The Warriors are pegged for 17 National TV games this season which is huge for both franchise’s Curry now hoops for.
Other players will take notice
Curry signing with UA means more athletes deciding to take that risk. The timing couldn’t be better considering the class of kids coming out of college this season, including the potential $180 million-dollar man, Andrew Wiggins. Chances are slim of them signing him, but other 2014 NBA lottery picks will see the potential with the company, realize how it’s worked out for Jennings and now Curry, and see that UA’s serious about building a new wave around the young players.