The 2016 NBA finals are over and spoiler alert: King James triumphed over Chef Curry. Even if you’re not the basketball fan, LeBron James and Stephen Curry are both contenders in the footwear and sneaker game as well.
Being two of the NBA’s arguably biggest names in a post-Kobe era, it’s no surprise that these two stars are pushing some serious weight in the sneaker game. Massive success on the court leads to big sneaker sales, but that’s not without it's fair share of controversy and these two ballers are no strangers to the roast session.
Not only did Curry lose Game 7 at his hometown's own Oracle Arena, but he took an L on his tonal white signature shoe, the Under Armor Curry Low 2, which dropped two weeks ago. You don’t need to see these twice to know exactly what they remind you of—think angry dads, golfers, nurses, and the elderly (they need comfortable sneakers too, thanks Steph).
You’ve probably seen lesser versions of these sneakers on your grandparents, Pete Carroll, or as one of the fine folks on Twitter put it, the guy getting mad about bruised fruit at the grocery store.
The tonal white colorway might be a misstep in current Curry’s signature roster, but his other basketball shoes are selling out (in certain areas) at a faster rate than LeBron’s own signature Nike's. This is good news for Under Armour because they're a relatively new option in basketball sneakers and making a dent in Nike's stranglehold on the basketball shoe market is tough. By the end of this year, Under Armour is projected to sell about $160 million in signature Curry gear. Their massive growth may very well be attributed to the upswing in the Golden State Warriors' name recognition.
Even if the Curry Low 2’s go down as the MVP’s worst signature model colorway, or if they’re dubbed ‘dad sneakers,’ or fuel a couple more weeks of Twitter roast sessions, name recognition is great. When your name is in the conversation, whether good or bad, that equates to sales, sales are good for Under Armour, which will ultimately be good for Curry.
However, even with Curry models selling out ‘faster’ than LeBron’s, the Cavalier’s star is still outselling Curry's signatures (not the dad shoes), but just barely. This could be due to LeBron's own personal brand, his 13 year relationship with the sportswear giant, or simply for the fact that his signature sneakers have crossover appeal to the non-sports crowd, including sneakerheads and sneaker customizers.
Regardless, James’ win tonight spells out good news for his ‘lifetime contract’ with Nike. The ‘lifetime contract,’ valued at upwards of $500 million, came with a decent share of criticism toward Nike from basketball fans and sneakerheads alike (fashion’s loudest voice aired his grievance with the line “gave LeBron a billi’ not to run away”).
With Cleveland’s loss streak officially broken, it’s safe to say that the corporate heads at Nike are resting easy tonight. Over at Under Armour, it’s probably a different story—how many ways can you photoshop Crying Michael Jordan on a pair of sneakers anyway?
The real question is, can the Curry Low 2’s be saved? Maybe if you swapped the laces they might be passable. If anyone is up for a little experiment, send us a signal at #swapornot.