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Nike hero 2

2013 | Marriott Hotel | Oakland
In a conference room a short walk from the Golden State Warriors practice facility Nike executives are meeting with NBA up-and-comer Steph Curry. The Nike team don’t know it yet.. but they’re about to make a PowerPoint blunder so gigantic that is loses them the endorsement of one of this generation’s greatest basketball talents.

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Curry was at the time ranked the 40th best player in the league by ESPN, but was really starting to transform into a star. He was already on the Nike books, and in his breakout game just a few months earlier it was a pair of Nike Zoom Hyperfuses that were seen in all the photos. Now Curry was in contract negotiations about extending his shoe sponsorship deal with the far-and-away market leader.

In theory, he should have just been happy to be a Nike athlete at all, signing with the brand had become almost a rite of passage for top notch NBA players. All the greats have worn the swoosh on their shoes, Jordan did, Kobe did (eventually) and LeBron did.

So a simple contract extension was the assumed outcome.

But in the run up to the meeting Steph, and his father-come-advisor Dell (who played in the NBA in the 90’s) were starting to feel a bit uneasy about the deal. In short, they felt under-appreciated.