Stephen Curry went through the normal motions of his warm-up routine before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
What was different was his footwear.
Curry had insisted to his team at Under Armour that he wanted to debut his Curry 4 shoe on Thursday night, and the timelines were pushed up to make it happen.
“We were excited to get it done for him,” said Ryan Drew, vice president and general manager of Under Armour’s global basketball business, adding that fewer than five pairs had been made at this point.
The shoe, which has a knit upper, as well as pieces of leather and suede, was generally well received on Twitter, surely a welcome change for Under Armour executives and Curry himself. Sources close to Curry said he took criticism of his Curry 3 shoe very personally, which led to his intense focus on the Curry 4.
“It’s really the first shoe that Steph was involved in every step in the process from the ideation all the way through to the finished product,” Drew said. “We met him everywhere he was to make sure he was part of everything we did.”
After Nike decided to pass on Curry and not match Under Armour’s offer in 2013, the Curry business enjoyed a steady rise. At the conclusion of last year’s NBA Finals, the business Curry generated for Under Armour over the preceding 12 months approached the $200 million range.
And then came the Curry 3, which was not well received and did not sell well in stores. In April, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank attributed the fall to a “warm consumer reception.” The shoe was challenged even more by its $140 price point, which was soon reduced by both retailers and Under Armour itself.
Drew wouldn’t disclose the exact date when the Curry 4s will hit this fall, nor would he say what the price would be.
“It’s going to be a lot more market-friendly,” Drew said. “It will be a better value at a more competitive price.”
Part of the challenge for Under Armour is to provide Curry with a shoe that will support his ankle, but also create something that consumers want.
“He wanted the knit part of the shoe at the top to have a seamless intersection between the foot and the ankle especially when he wears the braces,” Drew said.
Drew admitted he was nervous to see how Curry played in the new shoe Thursday night, but he was happy with how the shoe looked and the early reception on social media.
“We’ve been taking shots as a basketball team and as a company, so this is a nice breath of fresh air,” Drew said. “Kevin [Plank] has been saying that we’re reacting to the trend in marketing to moving to a more fashionable look while retaining performance. This shoe bridges the gap between both.”