- Sneaker wars are commonplace in the NBA and have been known to divide locker rooms. Kevin Durant's shot at Under Armour is the latest example.
Sneaker wars run rampant in the NBA, and the Warriors are not exempt. The defending NBA champions had a rare case of internal drama recently when Kevin Durant inferred that kids don't buy sneakers from Under Armour, a brand intimately connected to his teammate Stephen Curry.
For Curry's part, the comment didn't become a bigger issue after he addressed it publicly and said he spoke with Durant privately. That couldn't stop Ben Golliver and Andrew Sharp from diving deeper into Durant's comments and the following fallout in this week's episode of Open Floor. Here's their read on the situation:
(This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ben Golliver: Under Armour vs. Nike. Can you just quickly summarize who popped shots at whom and what the framework of this battlefield is?
Andrew Sharp: KD came out and said kids don't want to play in Under Armour, or something like that, on the Bill Simmons Podcast. And people took note like, 'Look, that's Steph's company.' He's basically on the board at Under Armour.
Golliver: I think in the comment that KD made Steph was like brought up. The discussion was not just about Under Armour, the brand. It was sort of about Steph and Under Armour.
Sharp: Right, I think Bill came back and was like, 'That's Steph's company.' But fast-forward a week and Steph commented and said, 'That's KD's opinion, I talked to him, I reached out to him. We worked it out and it's not a thing. But that's not been my experience with Under Armour.' I mentioned this today and you said you had some takes.
Golliver: I do have a lot of hot takes on this. I relate to KD, because when he said that I nodded vigorously. He's basically saying that in no world would he ever or could he conceive of kids ever wearing Under Armour. I have never worn a pair of Under Armour shoes in my life and I probably never will. Granted, I was born in Beaverton, Oregon, and the shadow of Nike's world headquarters sort of hung over my high school.
But there are a lot of people like that. I'm not that much older than KD. There is a whole generation of people who only knew when Nike's and Jordan's were cool. Even back then, adidas was not cool. Remember the Kobe shoes, the slippers.
Sharp: The only pair of adidas I ever owned growing up were the TMac shoes, and those were cool for a few years.
Golliver: And The Question had one year. Reebok had one shoe. But we even looked sideways at people who wore The Questions, and those were dope shoes and Iverson was the biggest star, for a very short stretch their, in the world.
Sharp: Reebok also spent the next 20 years re-releasing The Questions.
Golliver: In every gradient. They went through the whole Crayola box. So I am kind of with KD, but this is where my mind went. Not too long ago you know I was kind of doing a road trip through America, and I got up to North Dakota and, man, they love cheese curds. They are just the thing up. You can just get a package out of the store, they have them everywhere. I had never eaten a cheese curd probably in the first 25 years of my life I didn't even know what they were. I understand why these people...
Sharp: Are you comparing Under Armour shoes to cheese curds?
Golliver: I understand why these people love cheese curds, I understand why they're all over the grocery store, I understand why they're on every single menu. These people have discovered something. Cheese curds are pretty dope.
Sharp: First of all, cheese curds are amazing, and one of the best things about going to the Midwest is an excuse to have cheese curds. If they had cheese curds in D.C., I would feel kind of guilty because they're really bad for you. But whenever I go to the Midwest it's like, 'When in Rome. Gotta get the cheese curds.' That said, cheese curds are great and Under Armour shoes are pretty awful. I think we should be upfront about that.
Golliver: I think for a certain segment of the population, it could be Chines fans, it could just be young fans who love Steph, who are all about Steph and they're treating his shoes like generations of people treated Jordan's shoes, even if they're not aesthetically on the same level. I think for a certain segment of people Under Armour shoes are dope like cheese curds are dope, and I think that's where Steph's coming from. I don't think that, unless you take KD to whatever is the equivalent of North Dakota is and say here's this whole other universe of people who love Under Armour and are totally about it, I'm not sure you can ever bridge that gap. I don't know how you bridge that divide, this seems like a pretty real thing.
Sharp: I cannot believe how sincere you are about the cheese curd analogy but I will just say this: I, too, am a child of Nike just like you and grew up thinking that every other sneaker brand was lame. So I understand what he's saying and, again, I'm still not really into Under Armour shoes. The designs have gotten better, but they're still not something I would ever buy.
Golliver: But people do buy them. The reality for me was I didn't even know cheese curds was a thing, it is a thing. And like KD, we don't really know Under Armour is a thing. But I think what Steph is saying is correct, it's a thing.
Sharp: Well, and Under Armour has been very smart about their grassroots growth. Their strategy is to take over high school level basketball and grow from there, and they've done a nice job thus far. And Steph's point was like, if you look at Under Armour shoes four years ago versus where they are now, the growth is crazy and that's true too.
But I think, again, it goes back to KD saying that basketball, first and last, will always be about buckets. I agree with the message, the messenger is still a little bit suspect to me, particularly in this case becuase everyone knows that Under Armour is Steph. They're inseparable at this point. You don't take shots at Under Armour. It's Steph's team. It's like a respect issue. Imagine someone on the Cavs taking shots at Nike, and they would never do it because it's LeBron's company.
Golliver: Kevin Love's in his shiny shoes that no one has ever heard of and is like, 'That Swoosh is old. That's late.'
Sharp: It wouldn't happen, and it doesn't have to be a bigger thing, but it is symptomatic of a larger disregard for Steph that has happened among superstars all over the NBA, even with KD. And it's just bulls--t. I'm just sick of it. None of this would happen in Golden State without Steph. It's getting old, and I hope at one point Steph just flips out. But he won't.
Golliver: I do kind of wonder through, because you're saying Under Armour is Steph, Steph is Under Armour, but I think there are also some other layers here. And I don't know if this is what KD was getting at, I don't think it was. But I don't only associate them, I associate it with the head of Under Armour, kind of the weird politics guy, also bring in lacrosse. There's some other things I associate with Under Armour.
Sharp: He's a DMV icon so tread lightly.
Golliver: Oh, you're still claiming him? You better not be still claiming him. I'll disown you just like KD disowned Steph. No, I think that there's other layers to the Under Armour universe besides just Steph, and I don't think those other layers are really that cool to basketball players. I think, for you and me, maybe we could wear an Under Armour shirt to the gym. And I think a lot of basketball players, you know those tech shirts Under Armour made a got famous for? I'm not sure everyone views that side of Under Armour's branding as cool, especially basketball players, who are sort of like Nike is a basketball brand, Under Armour is this performance, lacrosse, non-basketball brand.
Sharp: I think, if anything, this is just another reason to appreciate Steph. Seriously, if this did happen with LeBron, it would be a thing. Instead it's just a non-issue that we're blowing out of proportion in September.
Golliver: Steph handled it beautifully. Don't you think deep down, though, he's a lot more angry about that.
Sharp: That's the thing, I would like to see some backbone from him. That's my hope for Steph, for him to clap back at some of these people who take shots. It doesn't have to be KD, but every week someone around the league is taking a passive-aggressive shot at Steph Curry.