This past weekend, Under Armour unveiled Stephen Curry’s third signature sneaker, the Curry 3, alongside Saturday’s #CurryOps event in conjunction with Champs Sports. The daylong extravaganza at San Francisco’s Pier 35 featured a 3-on-3 tournament with Oakland’s brightest young hoopers, a 360-video experience, muralists, food trucks, barbers, and a special performance by French “Haaaan” Montana. The afternoon of events and entertainment concluded in the evening with a Sway Calloway-hosted private conversation with Steph and the Under Armour design team, followed by an after-party with Curry-inspired drinks and performances by Anderson .Paak and Bay Area native Too $hort.
While the fan-packed spectacle was all-too-appropriate for an NBA superstar launching his latest namesake sneaker with a major sportswear brand, it felt as if Curry and Warrior fans came out to celebrate the return of Steph and the optimism surrounding a new season, rather than Under Armour’s new sneaker. Which may have been UA’s intention.
It’s been a tough summer for both Curry and Under Armour. The reigning MVP is coming off a historical Finals loss at the hand of the Bronvaliers, while the Baltimore-based brand fielded a social media debacle when it released the “Chef” Curry 2 Lows to much public ridicule and relentless meme-ing. They both just want to put June behind them and refocus on what’s ahead.
On Monday, Under Armour revealed its Harmony Korine-directed campaign spot, “Make That Old,” to support their hopeful, yet determined outlook on the future. “This year, it’s all about recalibrating to understand there’s still so much left to do and achieve on the court and with Under Armour. This film, and the work we’ve done on the Curry 3, jumpstarts that mindset — knowing that the next chapter in our story will be written only by perseverance and the will to succeed,” said Curry of the video’s release.
There’s no doubt that Stephen is ready for the new season. He spent the summer polishing his already impressive skills, while the Warriors added another superstar in Kevin Durant. Golden State is back to being favorites to take home 2017’s Larry O’Brien Trophy, and while it’ll be far from easy to reclaim the throne from King James, it’s Under Armour who faces the most uphill of battles in taking on Nike and adidas.
But it starts with the Curry 3.
Performance-wise, the Curry 3 plays surprisingly well. With the help of Stephen Curry’s trainer, Brandon Payne, we got a chance to test-drive these sneakers while attempting drills that don’t just enhance ball-handling or hand-eye-coordination skills, but neuromuscular efficiency. Built to the specifications of Stephen’s unprecedented game, the Curry 3 comfortably mixes speed, support, balance and durability, creating a sneaker that complements the NBA’s new run-and-gun style of play.
Aesthetics is another challenge altogether. Under Armour has faced heavy scrutiny for its boring designs that aren’t able to transition well into casualwear and lifestyle markets. The Curry 3 however comes to us in a simple and familiar silhouette without any unnecessary embellishments or the large and static “UA” logo at its side. It’s nothing radical, but it’s also not terrible.
All in all, it’s the best Curry sneaker yet. But will it be enough to chase down Under Armour’s competitors?
Curry and Under Armour also mentioned this past weekend that durability was paramount in designing the Curry 3, as they wanted something that could handle both the rigors of an NBA game as well as the unforgiving trails of urban exploration. Something the Curry 2 was unable to achieve. So for this model, the sportswear brand introduced its newest breakthrough in fabric technology, Threadborne™, which draws its inspiration from paracord materials.
All in all, it’s the best Curry sneaker yet. But will it be enough to chase down Under Armour’s competitors, especially with Nike’s second biggest signature athlete sharing the hardwood with Steph every night? That’s hard to say with so many variables in place at the start of a new season, but Under Armour isn’t looking for an immediate takeover. It’s in it for the long-play, as evident by the sea of young faces that came out this past weekend to support their idol. As more and more young hoopers call Curry their favorite player, Under Armour is banking those same kids will grow up to prefer UA over its rivals.
Under Armour has Curry, arguably the most exciting player in sports at the moment, and a sneaker that finally complements his game and personality. The ball is now in UA’s court to capitalize on this winning equation.