When you go pro, there is more to it than simply playing on a different level on the court. Aside from this, you also get the chance to represent an athletic brand. Nike is one of the leading sports brands in the United States, so you can become a star by signing with them. They have formerly signed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. However, it looks like something went wrong when they tried to sign Stephen Curry, who ended up turning them down. How could Nike have let a chance like this one slip through their fingers? Let us find out how they lost millions of dollars.
Signing Him Was A No-Brainer
It should not have been a difficult decision for them to sign this big star for a shoe deal. By then, he already had ties with this brand like his godfather Greg Brink who worked at Nike. Aside from this, he also used Nike shoes when he played ball in college. He was the 7th to get drafted, so it made sense for the brand to lock him up and offer him a good deal. There was no doubt that Curry would wear swooshes to launch his career in the NBA!
They Only Got Him For Four Years
Nike is not the leading sports apparel brand for no good reason. Generally, they know talent when they see it. The brand signed Stephen Curry to a four-year deal that would go on until 2013. Incidentally, that was the same year that he took the court by storm! He scored his career-high 54 points at Madison Square Garden that year. He also held the single-season record for 3-point shots that year. It was his breakthrough year, and he wore Nike’s the entire time. It made a lot of sense for them to resign him.
Getting Offers From Other Athletic Lines
After his contract with Nike finished, he was free to listen to the pitches of other brands. However, Nike could still match the offer that its competitors made. They scheduled a meeting with Curry and his father and retired NBA baller, Dell Curry. They met at the Oakland Marriott, which was the building where the Warriors practice. Curry admitted that it felt rather awkward to listen to a pitch from someone he was signed to. Let us find out what happened when Nike made its presentation.
Nike Ranks Its Athletes Into Tiers
Nike has a unique structuring. They classify their athletes into tiers, and the top tier players all got special treatment from them. The athletes on this list included Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. From the very beginning of the presentation, Dell Curry could see that they did not put his son in this tier. It looked like he was not even close to that! He already took it as weird since his son had been working with the brand for a couple of years already. What happened after this was “appalling”.
The Pitching Person Mispronounced His Name
The presentation had been given poorly, unfortunately. It came off as if Steph Curry was nothing more than an afterthought in the plans they had since there were already three huge stars. However, Steph and his father could not forget what happened next. According to Dell, the first sign of disrespect was “accidentally” mispronouncing Steph’s first name. They did not call him Steph-En but called him Steph-On. What made things even worse was that no one in there corrected him when it happened. This was pretty bad, but something else made Curry turn down the offer.
They Made The Mistake Of Undervaluing Him
The meeting went on, but it was crystal clear that Nike did not value him as much as it did other ballers. Nike gave younger and unproven ballers like Kyrie Irving and Anthony youth development camps instead of him. This must have been hurtful for him. It would have meant a lot to him if he got the chance to help young players develop since he saw himself in the kids who went to them. When he was younger, he also went to those camps. It was his chance to pay it forward, but they did not let him do that.
Not More Room At Nike
Could it be that Nike simply did not have any room for him? Kyrie Irving was one up-and-coming player who had the same position and carried himself with a different kind of swag that might have appealed to the brand more. Perhaps with was nothing than an “out with the old, in with the new” situation. No matter what their reasoning was, nothing excused the brand from making yet another blunder during the pitch. It might even be the largest mistake in all of sports marketing history. Are you ready for this?
They Felt Completely Disrespected
When you have to give a pitch, it is always a good idea to doublecheck to and see if the information you have is correct. Nike clearly did not do this when they spoke to Curry. On one of the slides in the PowerPoint presentation, it said Kevin Durant instead! Obviously, they simply used the same slide they offered the older athlete and did not even bother to change it. By then, the Curry duo stopped listening to them completely. To make matters worse, Nike only offered him a $2.5 million contract. We are glad to hear that Steph knew that he was worth way more than this.
Thinking Outside The Box
When the pitch presentation was done, it was clear that Nike did not plan to add Steph Curry to the top athlete tier. That was the moment that Dell Curry advised his son to try exploring his other options and stepping outside the box. Remember, he was not a stranger to getting overlooked. He did not get recruited, and analysts did not respect him very much when he stepped out of college. This has given him a penchant for proving everyone wrong! In the end, he decided to do this again.
Under Armour Made Him An Offer
This was how Under Armour made him an offer at the right time. The brand made the pitch that would turn Curry into one of the best-known athletes on the planet. They put down $4 million on the table, but do not forget that Nike could still match this offer. Under Armour was taking a pretty big risk when they did this. Until that moment, Curry had not reached the playoffs for three consecutive years and only played 26 games the previous year thanks to injury. A lot of people thought that he was much too injury-prone. Did this gamble pay off?
Goodbye Nike, Hello Under Armour
It was smart of Curry to turn down the $2.5 million deal Nike made him. The brand chose not to match the $4 million deal that Under Armour was offering him. In the end, it looks like he was right to think that Nike did not value him. It went on to become one of the worst marketing mistakes in all of sports history. Curry went on to become an NBA champion and has since become one of the most admired players in the entire league. Let us find out how much he helped increase the worth of Under Armour.
He Did It By Himself
After he signed the deal with Under Armour, the stocks of the brand went up by a significant amount. The brand went from $47 per share to an incredible $120! This baller single-handedly doubled the worth of the brand from $14 billion to $28 billion in only a few years. Under Armour knew and appreciated the value he brought to the table and decided that $4 million was not going to cut it any longer. They wanted to keep him around, so it was time for them to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
A Fresh Beginning
After he signed with the brand, it was like the flood gates opened. The brand became the second largest athletic sportswear in the sports apparel industry. Bigger athletes, like MLB’s Bryce Harper and Jordan Spieth, started to sign with the brand after this. What made it even better was that Under Armour signed a ten-year deal to be the exclusive supplier of the MLB on-field uniforms. This will start in 2020. As you can see, the brand knew that Curry made all of these things possible.
The Brand Was All In With Steph Curry
It only took two years for Under Armour to try and put their efforts into resigning this Golden State Warrior player. Their efforts had been good enough to keep him around until 2024 at the very least. This is not all, however. He got quite a lot of incentives as well. He went on to be a part-owner of this company, which is not something that Adidas or Nike ever offered athletes before. With the recent MLB contract, his contract might even go over a billion bucks if everything goes well.
The Big Man On Campus
After everything that he went through, his signature shoe has gone on to be the 2nd best-selling shoe with only Jordan topping it. Yup, it is even more popular than that of Lebron, Kobe, and Durant. While LeBron James recently entered a lifetime deal with Nike, we are sure that Nike regretted not taking Curry seriously when they made the pitch. They did not even consider adding him to the top tier list that they had. The $14 billion baller could have been theirs had they matched the initial offer by Under Armour. There are a couple of other reasons Steph did not go with Nike…
Riley Helped Him Decide
Not a lot of people know that Riley Curry played his part when it came to Steph and his decision to go with Under Armour instead. The story goes that he gave her three shoes from different brands: Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. She ended up choosing one and throwing it over her shoulder. She did the same thing for the other one as well. In the end, she picked up the last remaining shoe and took it to him. As you might have guessed, she chose Under Armour! Aside from this, his beliefs also played a part.
His Favorite Bible Verse
Did you know that Steph Curry is one religious man? One of the reasons he left Nike as that they did not agree to incorporate a bible verse into the design of the shoe. This was an error of judgment on their part. After signing with Under Armour, they did not hesitate to add his favorite verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If you own the shoe, check the inside of the tongue to see it!
Do Not Mess With His Beliefs
As you can see, Steph Curry is really religious. He and his wife Ayesha even met at the church where his family went back when they were teens. They were also part of the same youth group and later got married there. If you watch Steph on the court, you will notice that he taps his chest and points to the sky after every single shot that he makes. He explained that it means “have a heart for God.” His beliefs keep him grounded and remind him of where he got his strength in the first place!
Working On “Nothing But Nets”
A couple of years ago, the athlete worked for a campaign called Nothing But Nets under the United Nations. The aim of the project was to stop the malaria epidemic that affected thousands of families all over Africa. Good on you, Steph. Data reveals that a child dies of malaria every minute. Nothing But Nets hands out mosquito nets treated with insecticide to help prevent related deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa. We bet Steph was happy to help the families gain more awareness about such an important issue.
True To His Word
He made a vow to donate three special kids of nets to the foundation every single time that he makes a three-pointer. In a single year, he was able to make 272 pointers. On a different year, he broke that record with 286! In 2017, he managed to shoot an eye-popping 402 three-pointers. How awesome is that? In a span of four years, he managed to improve the lives of 3,663 families! The Golden State Warriors also jumped in and agreed to match the same amount that Curry contributed to the organization. Next, let us talk about Michael “His Airness” Jordan. While he had one of the most successful careers in the league, it is also one full of so much drama.
Getting To Know Michael “His Airness” Jordan
Do not start thinking that Michael Jordan had everything handed to him on a silver platter. Back in high school, the talented athlete wanted to do play ball like his father did. He fell in love with the sport! He was a sophomore when he tried out for the basketball team in his high school but got told he was just too short! Being who he was, he refused to give up. He started to practice obsessively to improve his skills. He also got an unexpected growth spurt that shot him up by four inches.
Making A Name For Himself
When he was a junior and senior, Michael Jordan had been averaging 25 points in a game. His final season took him to the McDonald’s All-American Team. As you can imagine, colleges queued up to recruit the talented young man. In the end, he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina. During the first year of college, the team won the National Championship! Michael Jordan had been the one to make the game-winning shot. He played for three seasons and entered the NBA in 1984. The Chicago Bulls drafted him as the third overall pick. The rest is history.
Adidas Refused To Sign With Him
Nowadays, it is rather unfathomable that any athletic clothing or lifestyle brand would say no to a person like Michael Jordan. We all know that his Jordan Brand under Nike is now a multi-billion dollar company. However, it is true that Adidas rejected a possible partnership with him in the early days of his career. When he was rejected, they claimed that they only wanted to sponsor NBA players who were more than seven feet tall. Jordan was an entire foot too short to make the cut. Adidas soon regretted it.
He Refuses To Speak To Sports Illustrated
Some sports publications did not support him when he decided that it was time to switch things up and began to play for the Chicago White Sox. In one piece, Sports Illustrated said, “Michael Jordan has no more business patrolling rightfield in Comiskey Park than Minnie Minoso has bringing the ball upcourt for the Chicago Bulls.” He did not like this piece at all and has stopped speaking to the publication since then. In all fairness, his transition to MLB was not great. He spent a season in the minor league system of the White Sox and never made it to the major league roster. Let us find out why he decided to do this.
Retiring But Coming Back Again
Michael Jordan quit the NBA for the very first time in 1993. He said that he lacked the desire to continue playing, although the truth was that he was having a tough time with the death of his father. He always wanted MJ to play ball, so the baller found it hard to make that dream come true after his passing. The Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also owned the White Sox, so he helped with the transition. During his minor league career, MJ hit .202, made three home runs, and batted in 51 runs. In 1995, he came back to the NBA ready to play ball once more.
The “Love Of The Game” Clause
Many athletes have clauses that prohibit them from playing sports outside the one they play in, but Michael Jordan was a special case. He had a “love of the game” that allowed him to play pick-up basketball whenever he wanted against anyone wanted. In comparison, Kansas City Chiefs told Patrick Mahomes that he could not play ball in the offseason since there was too much injury risk involved.
A Commercial Inspired Space Jam
Space Jam was released in 1996. It paired Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny as this unconventional duo competed against the Monstars on the basketball court to save the Earth. The movie was a huge hit, but it was not the first time he had been paired with a cartoon rabbit! Warner Brothers came up with Space Jam after his popular Nike commercial in 1993. The shoe brand placed this odd couple in a Super Bowl ad. Three years after that, they got together again, this time with comedy greats, and asked him to star in the top-grassing basketball film in history! Next, let us find out the lengths he will go for Nike…
He Gave Away His 2001 Salary To 9/11 Victims
In 2001, Michael Jordan had been playing for the Washington Wizards. On that year, tragedy happened on September 11. After these attacks, the baller pledged his whole year’s salary and gave it away to the victims of the disaster. The first $100,000 went to the kids who lost their parents, while the rest went to the relief efforts. He was not the first athlete to donate an entire year’s salary to such a cause, and he would not be the last. In 2017, the Eagles defensive player Chris Long did this for educational equality.
He Donates The Settlements From Lawsuits
Aside from that, he knows that it is important to protect his brand by suing companies when they profit off of his likeness. For each lawsuit that he wins, Michael Jordan took the settlement and donated the amount to 23 different charities. “The 23 charities I’ve chosen to make donations to all support the health, education and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much and I want to give back to its kids—the city’s future,” he explained. Let us now see what his rookie season was like.
This Rookie Impressed Everyone
His first year in the NBA had been awe-inspiring, full stop. He averaged 28 points per game and got named both the Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. In six games, he managed to score 40 or more points as well. A lot of players take one or two years to develop their skills, but he showed them that he was already prepared from the very beginning. He was not happy with only being a rookie sensation either. Two years into the league, he decided to go back to school to finish his degree in geography.
Second To Wilt Chamberlain
The biggest reason he is considered to be the best basketball player in history is the six NBA titles he has to his name. He was a perfect 6-0 during finals series appearances. From a series standpoint, he is second only to Wilt Chamberlain. However, this does not mean that he did not try. During the 1986 season, he became the second person in the league to score 3,000 points. Two decades before that, Chamberlain managed to score more than 4,000 points. There is a category that MJ has topped, however. His 30.12 career points per game average is better than Chamberlain’s by 0.5 points.
He Was A Slam Dunk Legend
Michael Jordan sure knew how to put on a show for everyone! He might not have been the tallest player in the NBA, but he was aware that fans loved a good slam dunk. In one game, he accepted a challenge to dunk on “somebody your own size” when he posterized 6’1” John Stockton. He chose to also do this to Melvin Turpin, who was 6’11”. It is no wonder the entire crowd goes wild when they see him!
Paying Tribute To Magic Johnson
When he was a young man, his idol was none other than Magic Johnson. He was such a huge fan that he once said he wanted to become known as “Magic” Jordan. It was a good thing that this moniker did not last… “His Airness” sounds much better to us. He managed to honor Magic Johnson by putting this name on a personalized license plate of the 1976 Grand Prix, his first car. MJ does not need to idolize him since they work together as owners anyway. Johnson co-owns the Dodgers, and Jordan owns the Hornets.
The Truth About The Jumpman Logo
In an effort to promote the Air Jordan line, Nike puts the very recognizable “Jumpman” logo on the products. It is a photo of Michael Jordan doing a slam dunk in the middle of the jump. At least that is what you probably assumed. In reality, this logo came about during a 1984 photo shoot for Life. They staged him performing ballet, specifically a ballet move known as “grande jete” to replicate the movement of going airborne. The logo does not look anything like Michael Jordan does when he dunks.
Third Time’s The Charm
Can you believe that it took him three retirements before he finally truly said goodbye to the NBA? We already talked about the first time it happened in 1994, right before he went into the MLB. That detour did not last, so he went back to the Bulls in 1995. After three more titles with the team, he once again retired. Two years after that, he broke his promise not to return and joined the Washington Wizards instead. He had two seasons full of injuries before he finally retired for the third and last time.
His Loyalty To Nike Is Incomparable
When someone signs a sponsorship deal, it often means that they cannot be shot wearing something from a different brand. During the 1992 Olympics, this was almost impossible to do. Team USA wore clothing by Rebook, but this made things difficult for Jordan and his Nike gear. He wanted to satisfy Nike and made sure to cover the Reebok logo on his shoulder by covering it with the American flag. He defended this by saying, “The American flag cannot deface anything.” Well, he is not wrong about that.
The Flu Shoes Were Worth $100,000
One of the most famous games he ever played was “The Flu Game.” He had been suffering from the flu when he played during the fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals. He still managed to score 38 points and lead the team to victory. After this, he gave those shoes to Preston Truman, a Utah Jazz ball boy. He later put the shoes up for sale and made $104,765 from them. This huge sum does not compare to the most expensive sports memorabilia in history. In 2012, a 1920 Babe Ruth Jersey went for $4.415 million.
The Numbers He Wore During His Pro Career
Even though he is known for wearing 23 on his jersey, this was not the only one he wore during his career. He also wore 45 to pay tribute to his brother Larry. There was also a time when he wore 12. Jordan had to wear a backup jersey in a 1990 game since an Orlando arena employee stole his gamer! He put on a nameless jersey with the number 12. It was not a problem since he still scored 49 points.
He Liked To Gamble
It is not a secret that Michael Jordan likes to gamble. In 1993, he was seen at an Atlantic City Casino the night before he played in the playoffs against the New York Knicks. He said that he lost about $60,000. However, we are sure that this was nothing more than pocket change to him. In 2005, he talked to 60 Minutes about this gambling habit of his: “I’ve gotten myself into situations where I would not walk away and I’ve pushed the envelope. Is that compulsive? Yeah, it depends on how you look at it. If you’re willing to jeopardize your livelihood and your family, then yeah.”
He Wore Two Shorts During Games
This is a rumor that we can tell you is actually true. In Space Jam, Michael Jordan Says that he never failed to wear his UNC shorts underneath the Chicago Bulls one. The line was not made up since he actually did this for good luck! This is the reason his Chicago Bulls shorts always looked so baggy. There was no other way to wear both. It later became a trend as players began to wear baggier shorts too.
Why He Sticks Out His Tongue
If you have ever seen Michael Jordan play ball, you would probably know that he sticks out his tongue if he has to focus. It is actually something that runs in the Jordan family. When he was growing up, he saw his dad and grandpa do the same thing. When they had to do something important, it always helped them focus whenever they stuck out their tongue. His father also served as his first basketball trainer!
He Has A Fear Of Water
You might be surprised to hear that he is scared of water. When he was a child, he and a friend had been playing in the ocean when there was an undertow. His friend did not manage to free himself in time and drowned there. This is a traumatic experience that stayed with him all his life and explains his fear of water. At the age of 11, he nearly drowned at a baseball camp as well. These days, he still finds it difficult to be in the water, even when he is on a boat.
He Tried A Replica Jersey In The Past
His name has become synonymous with the number 23. If you ever see an athlete in any major sport wear this number, it is likely that it was meant as a tribute to this legendary basketball player. Let us go back to the day that he wore the number 12 after his jersey got stolen. Before he wore an unassigned jersey, he tried a replica jersey of a fan. It did not fit, so he decided to take the other route instead.
The Incredible Year Span
It was in 1990 that Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls achieved what people thought was impossible. For eight years, the entire team did not ever lose more than three games in a row, even during playoffs. This span included 126 playoff games and 500 games in total. Harvard Sports Analysis Collective member Ben Blatt crunched out the numbers and found out the odds of this happening were one in 140!
An Untouchable Record
We now know that he holds a lot of records under this belt. On such record is untouchable since he did not achieve this until he got to his 40s. Jordan is still the only player over 40 who averaged 20 points per game and scored more than 40 in one. In 1996, MJ was added to a list of the top 50 NBA stars of all time. After he set the “old age” record, he is easily in the top five! If you ask us, he might even be in the top spot.