Golden State Warriors: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant’s shoe competition won’t hurt chemistry

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant /

The Golden State Warriors’ MVPs Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are teammates on the court, but competitors off of it. Their brand rivalry won’t hurt the team.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant play for the Golden State Warriors. Additionally, Curry receives checks from Under Armour. Durant receives checks from Nike.

Both superstars have built pretty recognizable brands. KD is one of the sporting titan’s biggest athletes. Curry, on the other hand, has tried to carry Under Armour into the mainstream basketball world.

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The two MVP’s have different approaches when it comes to the narrative surrounding their shoes and their brands. For Durant, Nike will never be an underdog. They craft stories about a player’s upbringing, but they are always the absolute best.

Under Armour is different. It hasn’t generally been a player in the hoops world. Curry’s rise has been improbable and so has Under Armour’s because of it. He and his shoe company are underdogs that weren’t supposed to be so high-level.

Durant joined Curry’s Golden State team and some suspected that the companies behind the player had some role in it. Under Armour was becoming a threat and Durant was sent to neutralize it. While that wasn’t the sole purpose for Durant’s arrival in the Bay Area, Nike probably wasn’t complaining that Under Armour’s biggest asset would be taking a step back after two historic years.

While that may or may not have any truth to it, Durant did recently make some comments about Under Armour. He said that no one wants to play in those shoes. He told Bill Simmons on his podcast that young players–especially the top ones–want to play in Nikes.

Of course, when your superstar teammate is the face of that brand, comments like that are going to raise some eyebrows. The shade was felt throughout the basketball community. Word of the comments got back to Curry.

According to The Charlotte Observer, Curry had a conversation with Durant about those comments. He refuted Durant’s ideas about how a brand’s partnership with a school can have trickled down impacts on rising players. He also denied the idea that no one wants to wear Under Armour shoes.

Curry argued that he knows “for a fact” that kids want to wear them. It’s hard to deny that and the growth of the brand since Curry joined. No one was wearing them before and his star power has made them a surprising and legitimate force in the shoe game.

This will not have any lasting effects on the team. Curry and Durant are smart enough to understand how their competing businesses and brands relate to each other. They’re also mature enough to not let it get in the way of their pursuit of championships.

The two of them had to learn how to play together during their first season together. It seems like they figured it out much more quickly than most expected them to. By the NBA Finals, they had really put it together and dominated with some of the most incredible basketball we’ve ever seen.

Curry and Durant respect each other as competitors and as brands. They’re going to continue to try to outdo each other off the court. They both realize that their individual brands are closely related to what they accomplish together.

That’s why it won’t tear them apart. Durant’s comments might have been a little extreme, but it was something he’s basically contractually obligated to say. It wasn’t necessarily a slight aimed at Curry. He’s smarter than that.

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Moving forward, it might be best if Durant just focused on building up his own brand, instead of tearing down another. It doesn’t reflect well if he bashes Under Armour again in the future. It comes off as either being scared or being a bully.

These guys are going to sell more shoes if they continue to win. They can only win together. That’s why they won’t let this small rift break them apart.