Under Armour will reveal its third-quarter earnings in a call this week. But as the NBA season gets closer to tipping off, one addition to its basketball roster could very well end up being the linchpin to an increased market share in the world’s fastest growing sport: On Oct. 1, the Baltimore-based brand signed rising star Stephen Curry.
For Under Armour, which posted net revenues of $455 million in the second quarter ending last June, a 23 percent increase (from $369 million in the 2Q of 2012), signing Curry was a big deal. Not only did Curry leave Nike, but he plays in the nation’s sixth-largest media market, exploded onto the national consciousness with a masterful 54-point performance at Madison Square Garden, and is acting as an ambassador for the NBA in China this week.
Curry chose Under Armour in something of a bidding war with adidas and Nike, in which groups from the brands made presentations to Curry and his team over the summer. The move took the sneaker world by surprise; it is one thing to become Under Armour’s newest endorser — it is another to leave the juggernaut that is Nike.
“I was really impressed with Under Armour’s presentation, and the shoe that they brought to the meeting,” Curry told Complex Magazine. “And they showed me the direction that they were headed, with the basketball brand. I didn’t have any background with them. But I met with them and felt pretty good about them. I went to my other meetings, with Nike and adidas, and some other companies. And at the end of the day you try to make a decision, of where you fit comfortably and where you can build your own brand but also be able to play in a comfortable shoe.”
The brand, whose guard-heavy basketball roster includes Brandon Jennings, Raymond Felton, Greivis Vasquez and Kemba Walker, has in Curry a 25-year-old star who has emerged as an elite scorer and one of the top five players at his position.
Curry led the Warriors to the Western Conference semifinals with averages of nearly 23 points and seven assists. His stunning performances in the playoffs were marked by lights-out shooting from the outside (He had an NBA-record 272 three-pointers last year), a complement to the developing pieces of forward Harrison Barnes and fellow backcourt mate Klay Thompson.
And about his prior endorsement. He left Nike, and it wasn’t an easy decision. He wore Nike during his career at Davidson.
“With Nike they were pretty much family—my godparents worked for the company—so ever since I was in high school, I’d look forward to when they’d come around,” he said, according to Complex. “They would bring me Nike shoes. In my high school we wore Nikes our last year and then since then I’ve been all Nike. So it was a huge jump, but it all made sense.”
For its part, Under Armour couldn’t be happier — and not because their star landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated recently. This year, he’ll wear UA’s Men’s UA Micro G “Anatomix Spawn” shoe.
“This partnership represents our continued commitment to grow Under Armour Basketball globally,” said Under Armour’s Matt Mirchin, senior vice president of global brand and sports marketing in statement . “Stephen and Under Armour share the same competitive underdog spirit and family-first attributes that make this new relationship so natural. Stephen and Under Armour will strategically work together to positively impact the next generation of young basketball players everywhere.”
Curry has said he’s still getting used to the attention — the attention he’s going to get on and off the court.
“I guess I’m used to being on those stages, but I still get a little nervous,” he wrote of being on the same stage with Kobe Bryant in China. “It’s starting to become more natural, but every time, I get little butterflies. For me, I know it’s real, but the fact that we’re overseas and getting to see how much people really love the game of basketball are still kind of sinking in. I’m enjoying all of these moments.”
As the centerpiece endorsement for one of the globe’s emerging brands, the spotlight is something Stephen Curry ought to get used to.