Nike is synonymous with victory. So every time one of the most recognizable sportswear brands on the planet suffers a loss, it goes down in the history books. One of Nike’s biggest missteps happened in 2013 in a botched encounter with Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
At the time, the 25-year-old phenom was showing promise, but had yet to win any of his four NBA championships, two regular-season MVP awards, or even make a single All-Star appearance.
Curry had worn Nike for the first four years of his professional career, but his first sneaker deal was about to expire. So the Curry family held pitch meetings with all the major sneaker companies.
An upstart company known as Under Armor offered $4 million a year plus a signature shoe and the chance to become the face of the company. Nike, whose offer was worth $2.5 million a year, declined its right to match Under Armour’s money.
But the Nike meeting went horribly wrong when one of their reps mispronounced Curry’s name, calling him “Steph-on” instead of “Steph-en”. Worse still, a repurposed PowerPoint slide displayed Kevin Durant’s name.
The botched reunion has become folklore among hoopers and sneakerheads. But, like most stories that come to life, it often lacks facts. Besides Nike, no one’s reputation has been hit more than Nico Harrison.
Harrison was Nike’s vice president of North American basketball operations and was known for his reliability and deep personal connections to the NBA’s most popular players. Most notably, Kobe Bryant.
Harrison had his name attached to the infamous 2013 reunion for nine years. Now the 49-year-old is the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks. Thanks to Point forward podcast hosted by Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, fans finally received some clarity on Harrison’s role in the reunion.
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Turner, a former NBA player, coach and serious sneakerhead, had to ask Harrison what really happened that day. Harrison provided the following response:
“There’s an article. And the article says I mispronounced his name. It wasn’t me. It absolutely wasn’t me. But they didn’t know the other person, they knew me. So they say I mispronounced his name because that’s sexy. But I’m like, first of all, I’ve known this guy forever, like since he was in high school. I had used to portray his father. How am I going to mispronounce his name? I might have called him Seth, but I wasn’t going to mispronounce his name. So yeah, Nike made a mistake. In all honesty, if he had stayed with Nike, his company would be a monster right now. A monster.”
Thus, Curry’s first name was mispronounced, but not by Harrison. You can listen to the entire segment at 44:20 in the latest episode.
The rest is history. Curry signed Under Armor’s offer sheet in 2013 before signing a nine-year contract extension in 2015. Then, in November 2020, Under Armor announced the launch of the Curry brand.
Since partnering with Under Armour, Curry’s signature sneaker line has released nine styles. Just yesterday, the perennial All-NBA point guard released his 10th upcoming sneaker – the Curry 10.
Nike’s failure to retain Curry will go down in the history books and be taught in business schools for years to come. Thanks to Point forward podcast, we finally know both sides of the story and can clear Harrison’s name from the gaffe. Stay locked in FanNation Kicks for the latest news, updates, and interviews.
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