Stephen Curry is just two wins away from tying LeBron James in career NBA championships. After two consecutive blowouts over James’ Cavaliers, Curry and the Warriors appear to be en route to a second ring in as many years. But consecutive MVP awards and repeat titles aren’t the only categories in which Curry is catching James. The league’s MVP has also made strides toward LeBron’s status as basketball’s preeminent icon in media and marketing.
How Steph & LeBron Stack Up
In the first quarter of 2016, Under Armour experienced a 64 percent boost in footwear sales and a 30 percent bump in total apparel sales. Much of the athletic apparel company’s success has been attributed to Steph Curry’s unprecedented run of success. According to Business Insider, Curry’s value to the brand is estimated at approximately $14.1 billion with the potential to reach $28.2 billion in the future. Curry’s reported $12 million in annual endorsement earnings is set to skyrocket as he continues to thrive on and off the court.
Of course, James is no slouch when it comes to media and marketing. Having recently signed a lifetime deal with Nike (which James’ business partner Maverick Carter recently alluded to being worth more than $1 billion), he is still on top when it comes to basketball’s top endorsement earners. James has also stretched his brand past conventional endorsements and sponsorship deals: In 2015, he played a prominent role as himself alongside Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in the movie Trainwreck. It appears that James could make another appearance an the big screen, as Basketball Twitter was recently set abuzz as rumors of his starring in a potential Space Jam sequel began to circulate.
Gotta Be The Shoes
Curry and James’ effect on signature sneaker sales has become a hot point of discussion in 2016. While Morgan Stanley claims that Curry is set to outsell James in 2016, the NPD Group’s Matt Powell disagrees. Powell recently told Quartz, “There’s no way Curry is going to outsell LeBron this year. That’s just not going to happen.”
One more time: Curry is a great property for UA and has a very bright future, but Curry will NOT outsell Lebron or KD this year
— Matt Powell (@NPDMattPowell) March 23, 2016
James also remains the undisputed king of social media followers among U.S. athletes. With more than 74 million followers on social media, James outpaces Curry nearly four times over. However, Steph has found an all important edge: engagement. Curry’s engagement rate on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is nearly five times that of James. While he earns fewer total impressions, Curry’s fans are engaging with his content at a much higher rate.
Regardless of social following, MVP awards, or endorsement numbers, Stephen Curry and LeBron James are indisputably the two brightest stars in today’s NBA. As Steph continues to take control on the court, James appears to have a slight edge in marketing and media. However, if Curry can continue his unbelievable run, James’ off-court success could be within reach.