Nike Really Dropped the Ball in Their Pitch to Stephen Curry

Bradley Whitaker
(Photo: Getty)

There was a time when Nike seemed to scoop up every top-notch professional athlete from Michael Jordan and LeBron James, to Tiger Woods, all the way to Cristiano Ronaldo. But lately, Nike seems to be losing out to Under Armour.

Perhaps the two biggest rising stars in professional sports today are Stephen Curry and Jordan Spieth. Both athletes have Under Armour endorsements, despite Nike’s reputation as the most popular athletic footwear and apparel brand in the world.

Nike had a chance to persuade Curry to join their brand, but they blew it big time, according to ESPN.

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 Curry. “I wasn't surprised. I was surprised that I didn't get a correction.”

It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured 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.

Wow! When I first read they called him “Steph-on,” I thought of this guy.

So Nike had the opportunity to lock down the greatest shooter of our generation and they couldn’t even change the text in their PowerPoint to say “Stephen Curry.” Instead he got Kevin Durant’s sloppy seconds. I see exactly why Steph chose Under Armour.

But apparently little Riley Curry had something to do with the decision.

“My favorite story is Riley,” Steph says. It's a few weeks before a final decision on the shoe contract must be made. At his agent Jeff Austin's house in Hermosa Beach, California, Curry surveys the array of shoes before him. He asks his baby daughter, “Riley, which one do you like?”

At this point, Riley is little over 1 year old. She is presented with a Nike sneaker, an Adidas sneaker and an Under Armour sneaker. She picks up “shoe one,” a Nike. “Threw it over her shoulder,” Curry says. “She picked up shoe two, threw it over her shoulder. She picked up the third shoe, walked over and handed it to me.” It was the Under Armour Anatomix Spawn. “So I knew right then,” Curry says, smiling.

A one-year-old gave a better pitch than Nike. Why listen to a multi-billion dollar corporation that can’t even change their PowerPoint when you can just have Riley randomly make a choice among a pile of shoes?

It probably would have been wise for Nike to bring out Jordan and LeBron to make the pitch (more money would have helped too). Instead, it was likely some hungover intern making a presentation on a thumb drive containing mostly p*rn.

If you want to get the best, you have to bring out the best.

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