How Under Armour Is Gaining Young Basketball Fans Through Its NBA Deals

With the second half of the NBA regular season underway, Footwear News spoke with Trey Evans, Under Armour’s director of basketball partnerships and operations, who dished on the benefits of working with the NBA.

Under Armour is a partner in the Jr. NBA and Draft Combine. How important are those affiliations?
“This gives us our lane and visibility with the NBA. Being able to have any partnership with the league shows we’re committed to the sport and the category. And it’s extremely important for us to become a true global brand.”

How does the company benefit from these deals?
“If you’re a young kid and aspire to be a Stephen Curry, a Josh Jackson or a Dennis Smith Jr., it’s absolutely critical to see a connection with our brand and the NBA. Our partnership allows us to have footwear on-court, and the NBA will tell the story around our athletes who made it to the highest level. That authenticates us and [shows] we’re serious about the category of basketball.”

Dennis Smith Jr. Under Armour Dallas Mavericks
Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks in Under Armour.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Do NBA partnerships help cultivate relationships with athletes?
“We’re able to engage them on multiple platforms, from when they first start playing basketball to when they’re looking at the next level — the college ranks and, hopefully, professional. It builds a journey for us to engage the kid. Partnering with Jr. NBA with the first step, then going into our Combine Series, which allows us to get the next elite kid — that’s seventh- and eighth-graders. And we have our Grassroots platform that we run through the summer months. Then, hopefully, we get them through high school and our UAA basketball scene. We want to engage these kids and have them grow up with our brand.”

Which basketball events are the best for marketing activations?
“All-Star [Weekend] is the most visible and special part of the NBA calendar. But we look at all the impactful points on the calendar, whether it’s tipoff or around the holidays. And as we get into the postseason, we want to be visible and active. For March Madness, we focus around our college [basketball] partnerships, but college [programs] have a connected red thread to the NBA.”

How could the NBA deals evolve?
“We want to always be in partnership with them. We’re currently in a deal that brings us through 2025, and there are other opportunities that the NBA involves us in, whether it’s through their digital or social community, or how we can expand the Jr. NBA platform. This August, for the first time, the NBA is launching the Jr. NBA championship series that will culminate in Orlando, Fla. Ultimately, we want to be involved and in the forefront; we want to be the face in partnership with the NBA with that platform. I could see us becoming more visible and involved at the Jr. NBA level.”

Under Armour Dennis Smith Jr. 2018 Jr. NBA Day Los Angeles
Dennis Smith Jr. surrounded by kids at 2018 Jr. NBA Day.
CREDIT: Under Armour

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