Stephen Curry would be repping the swoosh today had Nike been a little more thorough when trying to sign him to a contract in 2013.
The Golden State Warriors guard ended up signing with Under Armour, joining New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and golfer Jordan Spieth among its most notable endorsers.
ESPN.com’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss details all of the ways that Nike turned off Steph Curry:
It certainly didn’t help Nike that the pitch meeting—one at which “famed Nike power broker” Lynn Merritt was not present—had some glaring errors, per Strauss:
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. ‘I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,’ says Dell. ‘I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.’
It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured [Oklahoma City Thunder forward] Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. ‘I stopped paying attention after that,’ Dell says. Though Dell resolved to ‘keep a poker face,’ throughout the entirety of the pitch, the decision to leave Nike was in the works.
Stuff like that may seem minor, but not paying attention to details can turn some people off. And not getting names right is tough to overcome. But according to Strauss, there were more factors that went into Curry’s move to Under Armour.
Nike was willing to give young players like the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving and New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis their own company-sponsored camps for promising young athletes. After going to Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul’s camps growing up, Curry wanted to be able to host camps of his own—but that wasn’t part of the deal offered to him.
It was also clear to the Currys that Nike didn’t consider Steph to be on the same level as the Cavs’ LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Durant. Again, not the type of respect he felt he deserved.
Under Armour was willing to give him what Nike was not, so Curry decided to move on. And the rest is history.
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