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.

Every NBA Team As A Drake Song -- Slideshow

Drake And Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors: "0 to 100 / The Catch Up"

The Warriors went from being a good team to the NBA's best team in 2014-15 (coincidentally, this song was released in July 2014). In 2015-16, they are potentially the best team of all-time. The Warriors play a 0 to 100 pace, or as Dell Curry calls it, offensive intimidation. This track is the origin of "I been Steph Curry with the shot, been cookin' with the sauce, Chef Curry with the pot." Also, Drake and Curry went to In-N-Out Burger together last month.

Vivek Ranadivé And Drake

Sacramento Kings: "The Motto"

Wikipedia credits this 2011 song with popularizing the phrase, "YOLO." Well, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé converts the term to NBA decisions. How else can one explain hiring Vlade Divac as general manager, tapping George Karl as head coach and putting together a roster of DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay? Vivek has obviously been hanging out with Drake (no, but seriously, they have) and learning his YOLO ways.

Kobe Bryant And Drake

Los Angeles Lakers: "Best I Ever Had"

Sorry to make Lakers fans teary-eyed, but this seems like a logical tribute to Kobe Bryant. The lines, "You the f***ing best," and "I want this forever," are nostalgic, even if Drake directs them toward a love interest in the song. Drake and all other NBA fans will miss Kobe, the best Drake's generation (post-Jordan) ever had.

Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Clippers: "Energy"

"The Clippers irritate," writes Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "They infuriate. They inflame. They chafe." In other words, they've got a lot of enemies. From Chris Paul complaining to Blake Griffin flopping to DeAndre Jordan spurring the Mavericks to Doc Rivers getting himself traded to L.A., the Clippers have a lot of enemies. They are a good team, but a lot of people are tryna drain them of this energy.

Steve Nash And Drake

Phoenix Suns: "Come Thru"

This team seems like it just rents players. Since the back end of the Nash-Stoudemire-Marion Era, the Suns have brought in Hedo Türkoğlu, Josh Childress, Vince Carter, Mickaël Piétrus, Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic (for a second stint), Jermaine O'Neal, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and Tyson Chandler. What better place than sunny Phoenix for a player to come thru while not in his prime?

Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers: "HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right)"

Literally the first line of "HYFR" is, "All my exes live in Texas like I'm George Strait." Well, it so happens that former Blazers LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews play in San Antonio and Dallas, respectively. Meanwhile, the Blazers also lost Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and Aaron Afflalo this offseason. It is time for Damian Lillard to "work with the negatives" and take control of his franchise.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook And Wanda Pratt

Oklahoma City Thunder: "You & the 6"

Wanda Pratt (Kevin Durant's mom), you the real MVP. "You & the 6" is Drake's ode to his mother, Sandi Graham. "At least I'm always being true to what you taught me," Drake says. Durant has never shied away from being a momma's boy. Wanda is even a mentor to Russell Westbrook.

Karl-Anthony Towns And Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota Timberwolves: "Over"

Like Drake in 2010, the Timberwolves are a young team growing up fast. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns know way too many people now who they didn't know last year. "Man, they treat me like a legend, am I really this cold? I'm really too young to be feeling this old." The T'Wolves youngsters are performing and progressing, and Minnesota has a lot to look forward to, as Drake has proven he did five years ago.

Jameer Nelson And Will Barton

Denver Nuggets: "Furthest Thing"

The opening verse is, "Somewhere between psychotic and iconic, somewhere between I want it and I got it, somewhere between I'm sober and I'm lifted, somewhere between a mistress and commitment." Drake is trying to find balance. That fits the Nuggets, an incredibly average franchise: Winning percentages of .439 in 2013-14, .366 in 2014-15 and .368 at the time this post. Other teams are flashy, but they are just "drinkin' on the low."

Alec Burks, Trey Burke And Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz: "6 Man"

This song is sort of Drake's attempt at a blue collar-Bruce Springsteen track. Drake constantly says he is "working the night shift," referring to his work ethic. Gordon Hayward and the Jazz are a hard-working Western Conference team much of the country does not get to see. Alec Burks was a Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner, similar to Lou Williams a year ago, before a fractured fibula put him on the sidelines.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dallas Mavericks: "Legend"

"Legend" is Drake explaining that he is the most influential rap celebrity from Toronto, and even as he gets older, no one is competing with him. "It's too late for my city, I'm the youngest n**** reppin," he says. Dirk Nowitzki has long been the NBA's best European player and no one has really come close. He is a sure-fire NBA legend who is still the youngest European reppin (although a certain Latvian in New York may be the guy to finally take over Nowitzki's crown).

Dwight Howard And James Harden

Houston Rockets: "Worst Behavior"

James Harden and Dwight Howard direct a hardwood soap opera in Houston. Kevin McHale led the Rockets to the Western Conference Final a season ago and got ousted 11 games into 2015-16. Harden wants the ball and Howard still wants to believe he is a superstar. They're on their worst behavior. "Do it look like we stressin'?" So far this season, yes.

Tony Parker

San Antonio Spurs: "Big Rings"

Too easy. "I got a really big team, and they need some really big rings, they need some really nice things." Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich have five rings, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have four and Kawhi Leonard has an NBA Finals MVP. Overshadowed by the Warriors' success is the Spurs' 2015-16 dominance. San Antonio will be right in contention come spring. What a time to be alive.

Anthony Davis And Drake

New Orleans Pelicans: "Hold On, We're Going Home"

The Pelicans started an abysmal 2-11 after making the postseason last spring for the first time since 2011. Since Anthony Davis returned from a shoulder injury for a Nov. 20 win against the Spurs, the Pelicans have shown life. With a chunk of season left, New Orleans can still make a run at a playoff spot. The Pelicans are returning to 2014-15 form, although Davis knows, "It's hard to do these things alone."

Zach Randolph

Memphis Grizzlies: "Used To"

Honestly, this is just a tip of the hat to Zach Randolph. "When you get to where the f*** I'm at, you gotta remind 'em about where you been." Remember when Z-Bo toiled away with Eddy Curry in New York's heaviest backcourt outside the Carnegie Deli? It looked like all Randolph's potential was washed up. Randolph turned himself into an outstanding asset for an outstanding team, with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, for the past seven years in Memphis.

Drake In Bulls Jersey

Chicago Bulls: "Headlines"

No matter how much fans want the old Derrick Rose, he's not coming back. Don't tempt him. This team floods the headlines for good and bad reasons. Firing coach Tom Thibodeau woke this team up a little bit, as seen by recent locker room smoke. As Jimmy Butler's teammates may say right now, "I had someone tell me I fell off, ooh I needed that." Side note: "Charged Up" was a close second just for the line, "Must I remind you that Jimmy got 20 million on it."

Jason Kidd, Jerryd Bayless And O.J. Mayo

Milwaukee Bucks: "Take Care"

The Bucks are a motley crew of previously rejected players. Khris Middleton and Miles Plumlee spent time in the D-League within the past three years. Former prized prospects O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless appeared to fall short of their hype before finding roles in Milwaukee. Greg Monroe just signed a fat contract after five playoff-less seasons in Detroit. "I'll take care of you," the Bucks say. That is good, considering Jason Kidd "loved and lost" the Nets.

Drake, Paul George And Lance Stephenson

Indiana Pacers: "Miss Me"

"Gone for surgery but now I'm back again," seems written for Paul George. Drake raps about how he will be missed while on tour (and Lil Wayne focuses his verse on how he will be missed while in jail). After George's gruesome injury training for the 2014 World Cup, the Pacers missed the postseason in 2014-15 (George averaged 15.2 minutes in six games). This season, George in the non-Stephen Curry MVP conversation, and the Pacers are contenders again.

Reggie Jackson And Andre Drummond

Detroit Pistons: "Started from the Bottom"

Nearly every playoff-level team has an argument for this spot, but in 2015-16, the Pistons deserve it. Once a powerhouse franchise, Detroit has not reached a postseason since 2009. This year, behind Andre Drummond, who has never won more than 32 games, and Reggie Jackson, who spent three and a half years backing up Russell Westbrook, the Pistons are gaining legitimacy in the east. I wanted to place a song featuring Detroit native Big Sean here, but this fits better.

LeBron James And Drake

Cleveland Cavaliers: "Forever"

There are a lot of options here, but the choice comes back to the 2008 documentary, More than a Game, following LeBron James and his high school teammates. "If you ain't been a part of it, at least you to witness," Drake says on the track, recorded for the film. Seven years later, we are still all witnesses, even after Drake was a constant presence during LeBron's Miami stint. Also, check out the music video. It is so old LeBron is playing online poker.

Dwyane Wade And Drake

Miami Heat: "Preach"

This song, featuring PartyNextDoor, is pretty much Drake's Miami anthem. For Heat/LeBron haters, the line, "Doing is one thing, doing it right is a whole different story," should hit home. Let's see if Miami can win without a super team. Near the top of the Eastern Conference, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are on track to make a run at LeBron James and the Cavs.

Drake Jumpman

Charlotte Hornets: "Jumpman"

This is not as simple as it may seem. Yes, the Hornets' majority owner is Michael Jordan, the namesake for the Jordan Brand, but more importantly, the lyrics are perfect. "Them boys up to something. They just spent like two or three weeks out of the country." The Hornets traveled to China during the preseason. They subsequently got off to a hot start, peaking at 14-8. Honorable Mention: "10 Bands," for the line, "I get boxes of free Jordan like I play for North Carolina."

Jeff Teague, Al Horford And Paul Millsap

Atlanta Hawks: "Up All Night"

When this song came out on Drake's 2010 debut album, Thank Me Later, Nicki Minaj rapped, "We got the Hawks, I ain't talkin' about the Peach State," clarifying she was talking about knives and not the basketball team. Five years later, "Up All Night" fits Atlanta. The repeated chorus, "Man, I love my team," sums up a group that had four All-Stars last year. The Hawks are again in playoff position, despite not having a true superstar.

Nikola Vucevic

Orlando Magic: "Hotline Bling"

Dwight Howard's 2012 exit gives Orlando the coveted "Hotline Bling" title. "Ever since I left the city, you, you, you, you and me we just don't get along, you make me feel like I did you wrong, going places where you don't belong, ever since I left the city, you, you got exactly what you asked for." Howard left like he wanted, for L.A. and Houston, where he has had trouble fitting in. Meanwhile, the young Magic, led by Nikola Vucevic, may be better than the Rockets this year.

John Wall And Bradley Beal

Washington Wizards: "Marvin's Room"

It was a great run, Randy Wittman. But it has to end. "I know you still think about the times we had" and "I'm just saying you could do better." Wittman took the Wizards to two straight Eastern Conference semifinals, which preserved his job, although he constantly seems to underachieve with his John Wall-Bradley Beal core. The Wizards are struggling this year and it is time for change in D.C.

Carmelo Anthony And Drake

New York Knicks: "All Me"

This fits, but maybe not for long. Carmelo Anthony has a reputation as the most me-first player post-Allen Iverson, which made him a scoring champion with limited team success. However, Anthony is starting to give way to his teammates, as Kristaps Porzingis and Arron Afflalo present legitimate scoring counterparts. Can Melo maintain a level of unselfishness?

Brook Lopez

Brooklyn Nets: "Make Me Proud"

"Make Me Proud" is Drake's pump-up song to Nicki Minaj. "I know things get hard, but girl, you got it," he says. The Nets are in a dark place right now. Brooklyn is near the bottom of the standings and has no 2016 lottery pick thanks to the 2013 Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with the Celtics. "Don't take it too fast," Nets. It is going to be a long rebuilding effort.

Isaiah Thomas And Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics: "Trophies"

A common misconception of "Trophies" is that it is about winning. It is actually about unsung success. "I'm just tryna stay alive and take care of my people and they don't have no award for that. Trophies, trophies." The Celtics have always been a hard-nosed team, and guys like Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger are humbly getting the job done for the franchise that which actually has the most trophies. Also, Brad Stevens is brilliant, but he never plays that up.

Jahlil Okafor And Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers: "6 God"

Finding a track for the Sixers is incredibly difficult considering most of Drake's songs are about accomplishments. "6 God" has one particular line that defines the Sixers: "Here go another mo'f***er that don't understand the concept of puttin' money first, boy." The 76ers are throwing away their third straight season with a new level of embarrassment. With a new draft pick and cap relief coming (they are still paying Gerald Wallace and JaVale McGee!), help is on the way.


Toronto Raptors: "Know Yourself"

The Raptors deserve the most Toronto of his Toronto songs. In "Know Yourself," Drake, Raptors' global ambassador, is "runnin' through the 6 with [his] woes." He refers to long-time friend Ethan "pushin' a Subaru hatchback" "way before hashtags." "Know Yourself" is a timeline of Drake's rise from and return to Toronto, which is "too turnt up I'll take the fine for that," referring to his recruiting of Kevin Durant. There is a certain Toronto culture, and Raptors fans "know how that should go."

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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