In a surprising move, superstar point guard Stephen Curry has signed a contract with Under Armour, breaking from his Nike roots. Curry had been wearing Nike shoes for the his first four years in the NBA. Curry is used to being an underdog, first at Davidson and now as the leader of the Golden State Warriors and that clearly factored into his choice. Matt Mirchin, Under Armour’s senior vice president of global marketing said “our key attributes for players we want to have on our team are young, underdog and next — and Steph checked all those boxes” in an interview with ESPN.com regarding the move.
While Under Armour and Curry undoubtedly meshed, the smaller shoe producer likely had to sign off an a huge contract to acquire the rising star. In NBA free-agency, small market teams have to outspend larger teams in order to woo big name free agents and the shoe game is no different. Under Armour only commands 0.35 percent of the domestic basketball market. Compare that to Curry’s previous shoe team, Nike, which commands 92.6 percent of the retail market. Of the top 10 scorers in the league in 2012-13, only two of them wore non-Nike shoes: Dwyane Wade who is signed to the Chinese Li-Ning and Brook Lopez who is signed to adidas. Curry’s new deal makes him the third member of that group.
Under Armour is looking to make headways into the domestic sneaker market and signing a rising star like Curry is indeed a smart move. The young point guard is exciting and is poised for an even more impressive season than the last. Under Armour isn’t the only company to acknowledge the commercial utility of an athlete like Curry, as the Warriors guard recently partnered with MoGo Sport Mouthguards to become the first NBA player to wear a flavored mouthguard. Stephen Curry is an athlete who can only go up these next few seasons and that is the exact type of living advertisement companies want to have.