Stephen Curry joins Under Armour
One of the biggest free agents in the basketball shoe game has a new team.
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who played in Nike shoes for the first four years of his NBA career, has signed with Under Armour. The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports last week, but the shoe and apparel brand didn't confirm the move until Tuesday.
"Our key attributes for players we want to have on our team are young, underdog and next -- and Steph checked all those boxes," Matt Mirchin, Under Armour's senior vice president of global marketing, told ESPN.com. "We couldn't talk to him until August given his contract, but when we did, both sides realized it was a great opportunity and the deal came together quickly."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Curry will be the biggest star who has stepped into basketball shoes made by Under Armour, which started to seriously play in the basketball shoe marketplace three years ago. He joins a group of endorsers who are primarily guards, including Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons, Raymond Felton of the New York Knicks, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats and Greivis Vasquez of the Sacramento Kings.
Curry will wear Under Armour's lightweight shoe, the Anatomix Spawn, this season, and the brand will sell shoes in Warriors colors for $120. Mirchin said he expects Curry will get a signature shoe as early as the end of next season.
Under Armour's market share currently sits at 0.35 percent of the U.S. basketball retail market, according to SportsOneSource, a sports market tracking firm. Nike, which includes the Jordan and Converse brands, owns 92.6 percent of the U.S. retail market, the firm reports.
Last season, Curry had two of the best performances in the NBA: a league season-high 54-point game at Madison Square Garden against Knicks, and a 47-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers in April.
Among the top 10 scorers last season, Curry will join Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez as the only players not to wear shoes made by Nike. Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Russell Westbrook wear shoes made by Nike's Jordan brand, while Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and LaMarcus Aldridge sport the familiar swoosh. Lopez wears adidas, and Wade last season jumped from Jordan to Li-Ning. The Chinese brand acknowledged that it had problems keeping up with demand and was unable to fully capitalize on Wade's Heat winning another title.
Under Armour announced in July that it is expecting to grow revenues by as much as 24 percent in 2013, which would result in $2.25 billion in annual sales. In the company's last quarterly report, which ended in June, shoe sales made up only 18.4 percent of the company's net revenues. (Apparel made up 70 percent.)
Under Armour has worked to increase sneaker market share by seeding the grassroots market. The company has signed 28 youth teams and more than 60 high-profile high school programs. It sponsors 13 college programs including Auburn, Boston College, St. John's, Maryland, Temple, Texas Tech and Northwestern.
"Having the best wear our product at the pro level is really the last step for us," Mirchin said.