If you’re looking for something to break up the budding Golden State Warriors dynasty, I’m not quite sure this qualifies, but Kevin Durant did touch a nerve when he trashed Stephen Curry’s shoe brand.
The Nike-sponsored Durant told The Ringer’s Bill Simmons late last month, “Nobody wants to play in Under Armours,” and while the Under Armour-endorsed Curry told the Charlotte Observer, “This is nothing that is going to put a wrench in the locker room,” he added “that statement does not ring true at all” and took enough offense to his teammate’s comments that they “had a conversation about it.”
But still. The two Golden State MVPs had a little beef, and opposing teams need to incorporate this into their trash talk moving forward, so let’s give them all the background on this that they’ll need.
While discussing why he chose Texas over his home-state school of Maryland, Durant told Simmons, Shoe companies have a real, real big influence on where these kids go. Nobody wants to play in Under Armours. I’m sorry. Like, the top kids don’t, because they all play Nike” tournaments at the AAU level.
Asked by Simmons if this Nike-biased Under Armour theory ever came up in conversation with Curry, Durant added, “Nah, but he’s cool. Like, everybody knows that. They just don’t wanna say nothing.”
This was not the first time Durant had spurned Under Armour. In 2014, Durant used the company as leverage to get a $300 million shoe deal with Nike. Two years later, when still playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was asked by Simmons on HBO’s “Any Given Wednesday” about the much-mocked Curry Two Lows and responded, “They were bad,” before doubling down, “They were bad.”
The day after Durant’s latest anti-Under Armour comments, the company’s stock fell 3 percent, although shoe retailer Finish Line’s profit margins may have had more to do with that, since Nike’s stock also fell 2 percent on the same day. Still, Under Armour’s stock has dropped more than 40 percent this year, and the company has struggled to establish itself in the basketball shoe market.
There is no doubt that Curry has helped draw eyeballs to Under Armour’s basketball brand since he turned down an offer from Nike in 2013. His deal with Under Armour includes an ownership stake, and helping the company continue to grow is a big deal for the superstar. Durant’s arrival in Golden State was sure to take a little shine off Curry’s shoes, and his latest comments didn’t help matters much.
“I told him that he has a certain opinion based on his experience growing up in the Nike business,” Curry told the Charlotte Observer of Durant on Sunday. “What that means when it comes to the competition among shoe brands and universities and the whole grassroots system and whatnot — he’s entitled to that opinion obviously. … But when it comes to what I’m trying to do with Under Armour, and what the Curry brand means and what Under Armour basketball means, that statement does not ring true at all.”
A word of advice to the rest of the NBA: Next time you’re getting roasted by Golden State, whisper in Curry’s ear real sincere-like, “Hey, I heard what Durant said about your shoes, man. That’s messed up.” It’s a slow play that may never materialize into a real beef, but anything to hold over the Warriors is something in today’s NBA.
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