The NBA Draft Combine is an invitation-only showcase that leads up the NBA Draft. The leading draft prospects participate in athletic testing, five-on-five games and team interviews. Under Armour will be the outfitter beginning in 2018.
The NBA draft last year with 3.4 million viewers was the most-watched draft in the NBA since 1995. The draft is presented by State Farm, but has become something akin to the Academy Awards for its style. The young men tend to make bold suit choices and the mothers dress in evening gowns. There are even fashion hits and misses following the event.
The Jr. NBA is a youth program that sponsors basketball clinics and regional tournaments. It is active in four continents and will be expanding to Canada this October. Under Armour is clearly hoping that if it endears itself to these younger players, that they will return the favor and stick with UA as they become older players.
It is also the latest move in a battle for young basketball players. Under Armour had been sponsoring the Under Armour Elite 24, an event to lure top high school prospects to New York. However, last week Nike created an event in the Bahamas, certified by the NBA, during the exact same time. Players have to choose between an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas by Nike or staying in New York with UA. Nike hastily arranged the event and the move looks as if Nike is beginning to worry about its dominance in basketball as it fights to keep players from other shoe companies.
Under Armour is trying to get more playing time with the NBA and has been a partner since 2011. Adidas had been the company outfitting the player uniforms, but Nike is taking over that role next year. Under Armour had some success with signing one of the hottest players, NBA MVP Stephen Curry. Also in the UA NBA roster are Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker, Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Jennings and Denver Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay.
Under Armour and the NBA will also launch the mobile application NBA FIT, which includes training tips and fitness-related content. Under Armour will have the global licensing rights around the brand’s Connected Fitness devices.