From the ground up

Last month, Kevin Durant made headlines when he threw some heavy shade at Under Armour. Speaking on Bill Simmons’ The Ringer podcast, the NBA superstar, who rejected a proposed contract worth $245 million with the brand before signing a new deal with Nike in 2014, said:

“I think a lot of kids, to be honest, they don’t choose Maryland unless they play in like an Under Armour system coming up. Shoe companies have a real big influence on where these kids go. Nobody wants to play in Under Armours, I’m sorry. The top kids don’t because they all play Nike.”

Unsurprisingly, Durant’s comments did not go down well in some quarters, particularly with his Golden State teammate Stephen Curry, the biggest NBA star on the Under Armour roster currently. Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Curry defended his brand, while admitting he had met with Durant to iron the situation out:

“I told [Durant] he has a certain opinion based on his experience growing up in the Nike business. What that means when it comes to the competition among shoe brands and universities and the whole grassroots system and whatnot—he’s entitled to that opinion obviously… But when it comes to what I’m trying to do with Under Armour, and what the Curry brand means and what Under Armour basketball means, that statement does not ring true at all.”

He then spoke of the brand’s growth, further dismissing the comment that “nobody wants to play in Under Armours”:

“Where we were four years ago, and where we are now—you can’t tell me nobody wants to wear our shoes. I know for a fact that they do.”

Golden State fans needn’t worry, however, as Curry confirmed the pair’s relationship hasn’t been affected:

“I understand how what we do and the team that we are and the success we’ve had, no matter what anybody says it’s going to be blowing up. Especially when it’s the opportunity to make it look (controversial)… Like I said, it’s nothing that’s going to break up the locker room.”

Despite a good run in 2015-2016, Under Armour’s revenues were lacklustre last year, mainly owed to the lack of success with the Curry 3 signature shoe. Following Durant’s diss, stocks took a further tumble last month.

Listen to big KD’s podcast appearance below. His controversial comments take place around the 36-minute mark.

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