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Signing Kevin Durant could have hurt Under Armour's shoe business

OAKLAND, CA -- Kevin Durant, #35, of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot over Andrew Bogut, #12, of the Golden State Warriors during game one of the NBA Western Conference Final at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California.
OAKLAND, CA -- Kevin Durant, #35, of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot over Andrew Bogut, #12, of the Golden State Warriors during game one of the NBA Western Conference Final at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

In 2014, Under Armour sought to land the NBA's Kevin Durant as a pitch man, a sponsorship deal that would have been one of the largest ever signed as the company sought to build its shoe business and boost its stature internationally.

The Oklahoma City Thunder forward opted to stick with Nike. And now the Western Conference playoffs – which continue tonight -- feature a matchup of Durant's team against the Golden State Warriors and superstar Stephen Curry, who has become Under Armour's most heralded basketball representative.

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The matchup presents an opportune time to consider the signing of Curry in 2013 (he extended the deal last year) and the unsuccessful courtship of Durant.

In the first quarter of 2016, Under Armour footwear sales rose more than 60 percent to $264 million, due to the continuing popularity of Curry's shoe line and more styles in running, the brand's biggest footwear category.

And what if Under Armour had landed Durant?

It would have meant that Curry, now a two-time league MVP, would have been sharing the marquee with Durant.

In an analysis on for Yahoo Sports, Nick DePaula of The Vertical argues that things could hardly have worked out better for the Baltimore-based company.

Since the courtship, Durant has had issues with his right foot. The problems not only dimmed his status but could have unfairly tainted Under Armour if the company had been his new shoe supplier.

"If Durant were suffering recurring foot issues in his very first year with Under Armour, few think the brand – which launched basketball shoes at retail in the fall of 2010 – could have recovered," DePaula argues.

Curry, clearly on the rise the past few years, has become a "next generation" player.

"That's not a knock on Durant, as he and Nike are continuing to enjoy their partnership and will be releasing the ninth KD signature shoe later this summer," DePaula writes. "The rise of Under Armour without Durant has simply been a credit to Curry's unprecedented play on the court."

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