Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


His godfather works for Nike.

And still Nike blew it.

He'd worn Nike for years.

And still Nike blew it.

What might surprise you the most is all the different ways Nike managed to just blow it.

The story of how Warriors guard and now NBA darling Stephen Curry left Nike for Under Armour is quite stunning.

As ESPN reports, this was 2013. True, Curry wasn't yet a superstar. In 2013, you could still get Warriors tickets in the lower level for less than $100.

So when it came to a meeting with Curry about how the company intended to develop his name and brand, Nike didn't send its most important people.

Yes, Curry had enjoyed a 54-point game at Madison Square Garden that year. But it was against the Knicks. Even portly Charles Barkley could score against the Knicks.

But it wasn't just that Nike didn't send its biggest names. It made the smallest, most ludicrous errors.

One executive pronounced his name Steph-on, instead of "Steffen." This must have reeked of an extraordinary ignorance.

Then the company didn't offer him a camp in which he could teach kids, a longstanding Nike practice. Kyrie Irving got a camp. Kyrie Irving still hasn't won an NBA title.

And then there was the PowerPoint.

It seemed as if the presentation made by Nike had been repurposed from a presentation made to another star. 

Curry concluded this from the fact that one slide had the name Kevin Durant on it.

He's the Oklahoma City Thunder star who also doesn't have an NBA title.

Curry had spent his whole career being disrespected. No one in the first-tier colleges wanted to recruit him, even though his dad, Dell, had been an excellent NBA player.

He went to Davidson. Where, indeed.

He was drafted by the Warriors, a franchise that hadn't merely been marked by its incompetence, but actually often defined it. (Disclosure: Golden State Warriors fan.)

Being dissed was something Curry was used to. Being dissed like this was inexcusable.

His teammate at the time, Kent Bazemore, was one of Under Armour's first recruits.

He was a wonderful cheerleader, as he spent most of his time on the bench. He hailed from the same part of the U.S. as Curry, and they became friends.

Under Armour was a rebel brand. Curry is as rebellious as tofu, but Under Armour showed him why he mattered.

But it all came down to Riley Curry. The star's famous daughter, only a 1-year-old at the time, was asked to choose one shoe between a Nike, an Adidas, and an Under Armour.

Legend has it that she threw the Nike shoe over her shoulder. She liked the Under Armour. What was the under-over on that?

At heart, Curry may not have been Nike's kind of poster child. He's not mean. In 2013, he had a lesser physique even than now. He's frightfully nice and religious. He has only one wife.

However, the lesson here is a very simple one.

There's never any point in showing so openly that you really don't care about a client.

You never know who they might become and what hidden talents they have--or what talents you've overlooked.

Curry is a wonderful palliative for a world gone mad. He wins with nothing other than skill and commitment, nothing other than guile and style.

He doesn't talk tough. He doesn't even have huge tats, for goodness sake. I didn't think that was allowed in the NBA.

The way Nike treated Curry sounds like the way Vladimir Putin treats the Ukraine.

It sounded like a preening sports star who believes that everyone adores him.

It sounded like a company that thought Stephen Curry simply wasn't all that and never would be.

Sometimes, when you think you're that good, you believe that everyone should be only too grateful to be one of your clients. Even if you do, why show it? Why not merely act professionally?

Because you really never, ever know.

Stephen Curry has helped propel Under Armour to be worth, some say, $4 billion.

It's not as if Nike is doing badly. It's just doing it very well.

Somewhere along its corridors, though, someone will have occasionally muttered: "If only we'd shown him a little more respect."