NBA rumors: Steph Curry persuaded by Under Armour to stay with company


About a year-and-a-half ago, Warriors superstar Steph Curry nearly ended his relationship with Under Armour.

Julie Creswell and Kevin Draper of The New York Times have the details:

In the summer of 2018, two top Under Armour executives traveled to the West Coast on a critical mission. Kevin Plank, the sports apparel company’s founder and chief executive, and Patrik Frisk, its president and chief operating officer, needed to persuade Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star and the company’s highest-profile endorser, not to leave the brand.

Mr. Plank was unhappy that Mr. Curry, whose endorsement deal pays him millions of dollars a year, would rarely wear Under Armour clothing to N.B.A. games. Mr. Curry was upset that sales of the signature Curry 3 shoe had been weak.

At the meeting, participants found a solution that would showcase just how much Mr. Curry meant to the company. Mr. Plank and Mr. Frisk agreed to build a separate business around him, one reminiscent of what Nike had done for Michael Jordan two decades before. The company brought on the former executive who had overseen the creation of the Jordan brand at Nike to run the Curry brand and promised Mr. Curry much more involvement in the development of his shoes. Mr. Curry decided to remain, and a crisis was averted.

Of course, what happened in early February 2017 didn't help matters.

After Plank praised Donald Trump by saying, "To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country -- people can really grab that opportunity," Curry told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson (who was at The Bay Area News Group at the time): "I agree with that description. If you remove the 'et' from 'asset.' "

Plank issued a clarifying statement the following day, and Curry let it be known: "I spent all day yesterday on the phone with countless people at Under Armour, countless people in Kevin Plank’s camp, my team, trying to understand what was going on and where everybody stood on the issue. Based off the release that KP sent out this morning, and what he told me last night, that’s the Under Armour that I know.

"That’s the brand I know he’s built and one that, as of Wednesday afternoon, is something that I’m standing on.”

The two-time NBA MVP let it be known that he would part ways with Under Armour if he felt like it was the right thing to do.

“If there is a situation where I can look at myself in the mirror and say they don’t have my best intentions, they don’t have the right attitude about taking care of people," he told Thompson. "If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.

"So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”

[RELATED: Dubs try to reconcile before first game in Kobe's hometown]

It appears the two-time NBA MVP is on good terms with the company, as he helped recruit Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid to the brand in August 2018, and recently helped in the effort to sign Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (who ended up with Nike/Jordan).

Curry's contract with Under Armour runs through 2024 at about $20 million annually.

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