USA Today Sports Stephen Curry

If you're a sports brand -- hell, even if you Spanx -- you'd kill to have Stephen Curry on your list of star endorsements. Right?

Stephen Curry Under Armour Sneakers

Certainly, you would. But three years ago, not everyone agreed. Back then, when Curry's Nike contract was set to expire, negotiations for a new deal fizzled. When Curry sat down with Nike executives, he found an unpalatable presentation that paved the way for his exit to Under Armour.

As ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss details in an extensive feature, Nike's pitch team performed maybe the worst sales presentation ever heard of in the history of sports.

Things started badly: One executive greeted Curry as "Steph-On," as in the alter-ego of Steve Urkel, and never corrected himself.

And then they got worse. A slide in a PowerPoint presentation featured Kevin Durant's name, which suggested Nike had repurposed materials from a previous pitch.

Stephen Curry Under Armour Motivation

"I stopped paying attention after that," Curry's father, Dell, told ESPN.

As he described it, he and his son were already prepping to jump ship.

Even ignoring those fatal missteps, it was clear from the presentation that Curry would be relegated to a second tier of stars. Instead of wallow in the shadow of LeBron James and Durant, he went over to Under Armour, which welcomed him with open arms.

And what's happened since? According to ESPN, one analyst for Morgan Stanley pegged Curry's value to the company at a stunning $14 billion. UA basketball shoe sales are up 350 percent. And Curry's signature shoe is already bigger than LeBron and Kobe Bryant's lines. Only Michael Jordan is doing better.

Nobody knew back then that Curry would become a league MVP, an NBA champ and perhaps the greatest shooter of all time. But that doesn't make Nike look like any less of a fool.

Check out the full story on ESPN, which provides a vivid and thorough accounting of multiple factors, including Under Armour's innovative recruiting approach, that led Curry to switch brands.

Related: Why Adidas Passed On Signing Michael Jordan To Endorsement Deal In 1984

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