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NBA Apparel: Curry, Kobe and Jordan

Will Kobe and Curry's signature sneakers ever live up to Jordan's?

Kobe Bryant (24) and Stephen Curry (30)
Kobe Bryant (24) and Stephen Curry (30)
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan, Kobe, and now Curry.  All three are considered GOATs of their generation.  While we will never get to see them actually play against each other in their prime, we can watch them compete in the sneaker scene.  After all, basketball players come and go, but sneakers (and banners) are forever.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Michael Jordan first signed with Nike in 1984.  His first signature sneaker, the Air Jordan, was initially banned by the NBA.  Two years later Nike's revenues surpassed $1 billion for the first time.  Since then, basketball culture has become hooked on the Jumpman logo.  According to Forbes Jordan's sales rose by 14% in the U.S. last year, with retail shoe sales hitting $3 billion.  This gives the Jordan brand a market share of 64% in basketball.  It's closest rivals are, it's mother brand, Nike at 29%, Under Armour at 3.6%, and Adidas with 2.3% market share.

kobe 2

Kobe Bryant (Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

Although Kobe Bryant's game could arguably be better than Jordan's, his impact in the apparel world is currently minimal.  This is largely due to two factors.  The first being that Kobe came after MJ, and the second factor being that they both signed with the same brand.  His sneaker and apparel sales are only a piece of Nike's 29% market share.  Other player lines that contribute to Nike's market share include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving.

However, this doesn't mean that Kobe's sneakers won't have a lasting impact.  After all, his last game was only last night and according to Sole Collector, despite his retirement, Kobe 12's and 13's are on the way.  Also, Kobe's player logo appeals to large audience.  Similar to the Jumpan (Jordan's logo) it doesn't contain Kobe's initials, but is symmetric and eye appealing.  I can't imagine the Jordan brand being quite as successful with a huge MJ written across all their gear, instead of the Jumpman.

sc

Stephen Curry (Photo Credit: Sooburn Im-USA TODAY Sports)

Unlike Jordan and Kobe, Stephen Curry is an Under Armour athlete.  Curry's success in the apparel world will ultimately depends on his success on the basketball court.  After breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bull's record last night, and with one championship under his belt, Curry is well on his way to becoming a major apparel player.

Interestingly enough, Under Armour is in a similar situation to that of Nike in the 1980's.  They are considered a relatively new brand, but are becoming popular at a fast pace.  According to Business Insider, Under Armour's basketball shoe sales rose by 350% over the last year.  His signature sneakers are already bigger than Kobe's and LeBron's, and are second only to Jordan.