steph curry

The table is set for the Cavs & Warriors Final’s Rematch

 

Before I get into the Cavs Vs. Warriors let me touch on a few things on the teams that lost  to them. The Raptors took it to six which no one expected by playing inspired ball on their home court with the help of Lowry , DeRozan and the emergence of Bismack Biyombo who has made himself a lot money this offseason from his performance. The Raptors will have a nice core returning next season with a healthy Jonas coming back. But I wonder if they can attract any bigger free agents to come there since they have failed to do so in the past. Add that to DeRozan’s impending free agency when the Lakers (his hometown ) will be most likely calling and I would be willing to bet he would leave. Personally I wouldn’t DeRozan on my team just because his lack of a 3pt shot, and now he flat-out doesn’t take them. But I’m sure the Raptor fans out there would be bummed breaking up their best team ever including this super fan, who I’m sure you’ve seen if you have ever watched a Raptors game.  His name is Nav Bhatia and he has been a season ticket holder for 21 years and he is also a really good dude. By giving out the rest of his many season tickets to bring  hundreds of underprivileged children to the games every year.

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Now onto the Thunder who by all accounts looked to be firmly in control of their series versus the Thunder until a devastating loss at home in-game 6. I felt that after that loss the series would be over going back to Golden State at home. The Thunder’s late decision-making came back to bite them the final two games. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise since they led the league in 4th quarter collapses this year even beating the woeful Sixers in that category. But this postseason they looked like they had finally turned the corner and put those days behind them. Also in games 6 and 7 their second half scoring was abysmal including a 12 point third quarter in game 7, you just cannot expect to win with that kind of output. Going forward for the Thunder I think they are in a good position with Durant’s free agency looming. They have a young coach who is only going to get better. There isn’t a team that could he could go to that would give him a better chance to win like the Thunder unless you believe those Warriors rumblings are true. I say just sign the 2yr deal with an option to opt out after 1 which will also be Russ’ last season under contract too. They have great pieces with emerging pieces like Adams and Kanter. They do need to tweak their roster some because at this rate the Thunder now will be the new age version of those 90’s Jazz teams with Stockton/Malone, in that they continually get to the apex but just can not seem to conquer it. I do think they should deal Ibaka to get back some more shooting and draft picks to bolster their roster. Although I would like to see Durant next to a pass first point guard like a Chris Paul. I just can envision the dynamic pick and rolls those two could unleash on the league.

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 Getty Images

Now finally we get to the main course, and what a dish it is between the Cavaliers & Warriors. This will be the 14th time in NBA history that The Finals will be a rematch of the previous season. The runner-up has won the rematch in seven out of the 13 re-matches, but they’ve won six of the past seven so this bodes well for the Cavs.

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The Cavs will be entering the finals at full strength unlike last season and they will have the shooting to back it up. The finals features the top two 3pt shooting teams ever to go against each other in the finals. The individual matchups will be interesting as usual with Kyrie probably guarding Curry exclusively because they wouldn’t want him to guard Barnes or Iguadala because of the mismatch guarding them in the post. Tristan Thompson will need to make more of an impact in this series against the smaller Warriors team than he did against the Raptors and he must make them pay on the offensive glass. They won’t be able to defend the Warriors like the thunder did with their mobile 7ft’ers so they will try to outscore them, and they can be able to pull it off winning the  on the offeensive glass. LeBron can basically go 4 out and him driving in creating for himself or dishing it to an array of shooters. He is the best driver in the league as well as one of the best passers to an epic 3pt shooting team (No one team EVER has made more threes in the playoffs than them). Finally if the Cavs really want to win they have to capitalize when Golden State goes cold and step on the gas to get as much of a lead as possible. Because a 10-15 pt lead is only 5 or 6 shots from the Warriors and POOF its gone.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors on the other hand with just a couple of nights rest will not be rusty and looking to make a statement in-game 1 which is the opposite of what they did against the Thunder. Now they know just how quickly things can change after losing game 1 on your home court. Can we get more Klay Thompson pub?! The guy has been absolutely lights out this post season , especially when Curry went down with mcl sprain and in game 6 against the Thunder when he shot literal fireballs on his way to 11 threes.

Bogut will be very important this series because of Bron’s ability to dominate the paint and without Bogut playing at high level it will be a long series for dubs fans. I wonder if Draymond can keep himself from getting another technical since one more will mean an automatic suspension and that could be more than enough to swing the series. I’ve talked about how great Curry has been this whole year and he just keeps proving it by going for 36 in-game 7 just solidifying his  Boy Scout bad motherfucker badge even more.  Steve Kerr may also want to put out a BOLO on Harrison Barnes because that guy has disappeared from second halves of games this post season run.

NBA: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors

 Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot on the line for this finals legacy wise, on one side you have the Warriors attempting to do something that hasn’t been done before and if they accomplish it they can begin to compare themselves to the better dynasties the league has seen , and arguably on the path to being one of the greatest teams ever. Then on the other hand you have LeBron who has been to six consecutive finals which has never been done before in the history of the Association. Then there is the added pressure on Bron bringing a title to Cleveland which hasn’t been done since Jim Brown was truck sticking folks in the 60’s. There will be a lot of history on the line this time around and with each team at full strength it will be a pleasure to watch. I’m going to ride with the Cavaliers in 6 games because as my friend Darren pointed out earlier this week that

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Nike lost Steph Curry to Under Armor

(ESPN) In the 2013 offseason — coming off a year in which Curry had started 78 games and the Warriors had made the Western Conference semis — Nike owned the first opportunity to keep Curry. It was its privilege as the incumbent with an advantage that extended beyond vast resources. “I was with them for years,” Curry says. “It’s kind of a weird process being pitched by the company you’re already with. There was some familiar faces in there.”

The August meeting took place on the second floor of the Oakland Marriott, three levels below Golden State’s practice facility. Famed Nike power broker and LeBron James adviser Lynn Merritt was not present, a possible indication of the priority — or lack thereof — that Nike was placing on the meeting. Instead, Nico Harrison, a sports marketing director at the time, ran the meeting (Harrison, who has since been named Nike’s vice president of North America basketball operations, did not respond to multiple interview requests).

The pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as “Steph-on,” the moniker, of course, of Steve Urkel’s alter ego in Family Matters. “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” says Dell Curry. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”

It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. “I stopped paying attention after that,” Dell says. Though Dell resolved to “keep a poker face,” throughout the entirety of the pitch, the decision to leave Nike was in the works.

Dell’s message for his son was succinct: “Don’t be afraid to try something new.” Steph Curry had thrived on proving people wrong for the entirety of his career. He had delighted in it, even. And Nike was giving him fuel.

If that’s so, that psychological damage was self inflicted. For all Under Armour did and for all Nike didn’t do, Nike still had an opportunity to salvage the situation when Curry indicated he wanted to sign elsewhere.

In 2013, Nike retained Curry’s matching rights, analogous to how NBA restricted free agency works. They still could have signed Curry, regardless of his preferences. According to a Sept. 16, 2015, report from ESPN’s Darren Rovell, “Nike failed to match a deal worth less than $4 million a year.”

 

In this way, Nike’s strength is indivisible from its weakness. As the top brand, it claims the most stars, by far. That’s a massive advantage, but basketball marketing is an act of minimalism. Promote too many athletes and the message becomes garbled.

It wasn’t a thankless effort for Bazemore, either. Now, three years later, he makes six figures annually with Under Armour

That has something to do with why Bazemore’s alma mater, Old Dominion, is now an Under Armour school. “We just signed Old Dominion, so that was kind of a giveback to Kent, so he’s happy about that,” Stone says. Under Armour paid nearly seven times what Nike was paying the school annually before

This was the condensed version of Ethan Strauss’ article so if you enjoy behind the scenes looks at the NBA and how shoe companies operate within the NBA I really encourage you to read the entire piece. So Nike being the juggernaut they are (accounted for 95% of sales in the basketball marker in 2014) thought they could half ass their presentation to Steph by first by sending in Nico Harrison instead of power broker Lynn Merrit who is involved in all major deals then reusing an old PowerPoint with Kevin Durant’s name still on it. Finally they certainly sealed their fate mispronouncing his name and never correcting it throughout the presentation. Well hot damn, I haven’t seen a pitch go that well since Tommy Callahan started slinging break pads in the midwest. It seems that Nike got complacent in thinking they are the end all be all in the shoe game , and that players would beg for there chance to be signed with Nike. Or that they decided to that they were going to push Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving as their feature younger guys.  That seems more plausible to me looking from the outside in.

But despite that bang up presentation from Nike they would need not worry because when Curry’s deal expired in 2013 because a caveat in his contract that gave them the ability to match any offer Curry would receive and keep him.   Over the course of his final year with Nike coincided with Kent Bazemore joining the team. This turned out to be a key moment for Under Armor and Curry because over that next year Under Armor would flood Bazemore’s locker with so much gear he couldn’t keep it all. Soon enough the asst coaches , team personnel and players were wearing it. During that season Curry became more aware of what Under Armour could do for him and what he could for Under Armor.

Fast forward to signing day when Curry signs with Under Armour and Nike decides not to match their roughly 4 million a year offer for him. That amount doesn’t even make the top 10 highest shoe endorsement list.

#10 – Blake Griffin, $6 million/year, Jordan Brand

#9 – Damian Lillard, $10 million/year, adidas

#8 – Dwyane Wade: $12 million/year, Li Ning

#7 – Derrick Rose: $14.2 million/year, adidas

#6 – Kobe Bryant: $15 million/year, Nike

#5 – James Harden: $15.4 million/year, adidas

#4 – LeBron James: $20 million/year, Nike

#3 – Kevin Durant: $30 million/year, Nike

#2 – Stephen Curry: Terms undisclosed, Under Armour

#1 – Michael Jordan: $90-100 million/year, Jordan Brand

At the end of 2013, Under Armour had a 0.35 percent market share of basketball shoe sales and now in 2015  they have almost 3% of the market. That can be directly related to Curry One and his Championship MVP season.

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Which has pushed Under Armour into 2nd place behind Nike but ahead of Adidas which wasn’t the case prior to 2015.  Here is growth graph to see just how much of an impact Curry had

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So far a little less than 4 million dollars a year Nike passed up hundreds of millions in sales  and the influence of the game’s superstars to hitch their wagons to Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving instead. But its not just him they are losing but future players and thats where it could really hurt Nike in the long run and really give them a challenger. Remember this past summer Nike almost lost Durant to Under Armor. So far a little less than 4 million dollars a year Nike passed up hundreds of millions in sales  and the influence of the few  superstars in the game. This is shaping up to be a colossal miss from Nike , the company which has had very few ever. So very similar to how Steph is transcending the game maybe he can do the same to the shoe market too.