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.
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.