As he played host to an Under Armour product meeting at his home near Oakland, California, in 2017, Stephen Curry was asked to think two signature sneakers ahead.
What ideas would he like to see come to life for the Curry 6?
“We have to do something for Oakland,” he said, before correcting himself. “For The Town.”
Curry knew the 2018-19 season, when he’d be wearing his sixth signature sneaker, was set to be the Golden State Warriors‘ final one at Oracle Arena, before the team moved across the Bay to San Francisco.
To celebrate the team’s final season in Oakland, the new Curry 6 sneaker carries a deeper layer of storytelling, honoring the only region he has called home during his NBA career. The “10 In The Town” theme will play out over the remainder of the season, starting Wednesday night when the Warriors host the Toronto Raptors (10:30 ET on ESPN).
“The biggest thing that I’ve noticed that stands out about Oakland is just the pride in the city,” Curry said. “Honestly, if you’re from Oakland, you let people know you’re from Oakland and what that means to you. It just oozes out of your being.”
The debut colorway of the Curry 6 veers away from the classic Warriors hues, instead highlighting the vivid orange and neon tones of the illuminated marquee at the Fox Theater.
“It’s the centerpiece of downtown Oakland, and it’s something that’s very iconic here,” Curry said.
Once the league’s loosened footwear color restrictions were announced, Curry immediately shifted gears as he mapped out themes for his upcoming model.
“The timing was perfect with how the 6 came to life right around that rule change,” Curry said. “Even if they don’t match, I think it still looks great when you have a dope colorway out there, and it can clash and stand out. It’s a statement piece. With the 6, 7 and 8, you’ll see a lot of that.”
In addition to the storytelling and narrative framing the shoe, Under Armour also upgraded Curry’s model to a full-knit material upper along with adding full-length HOVR cushioning.
“Our goal is to make him a better shoe every year,” designer Leon Gu said. “This time, we were really trying to get inspired by true science.”
Just as the Curry 6 was being prototyped and developed, Under Armour opened a 70,000-square-foot design and innovation center in Portland, Oregon — just a 90-minute flight from Oakland. Curry was able to fly in on off days and during the offseason to have his movements tracked by the brand’s high-tech motion-capture system.
They found that Curry changes direction on the floor at least every two seconds and runs nearly 2½ miles per game, placing him in the 95th percentile in the league.
“We wanted to design a shoe that was more like a running shoe for him,” Gu said.
That all led to a lighter look, more multidirectional sculpting along the bottom, and the largest speed plate in his shoes yet — technology aimed to propel him forward throughout the course of a game.
“It actually encourages me to run more,” Curry said. “If I was doing that before we had addressed it from an innovation standpoint, now with the 6, I should be even more lethal, whether I have the ball in my hands or not.”
When he recently debuted the sneaker on the cover of SLAM Magazine, he insisted on not posing solo, and instead was flanked in front of the downtown Fox Theater by several pillars of the community. Local students joined in, along with Warriors 1975 championship head coach Al Attles, several of the city’s powerhouse high school basketball coaches, his local barber Yusef Wright, boxer Andre Ward and rapper E-40.
“The diversity of Oakland is crazy, and you get people from all walks of life,” Curry said. “It’s just like a vibe that you can’t really explain. They know how to have fun, they know how to support each other. The way that Oakland has a bad rap nationally, if you look at people from there, there’s nothing better than somebody from Oakland.”
Curry’s cover text simply read, “Heart of The Town.”
“He’s meant hope, happiness and pride for this town,” said Kris Stone, Under Armour’s senior director of sports marketing, who was born and raised in the Bay. “Growing up here, I can truly understand the impact he has made over the years. Knowing Stephen, his love for Oakland and commitment to The Town will be everlasting, regardless of where the team plays in the future.”
While Curry plans to release a batch of colorways that highlight stories from different chapters throughout his 10 years in The Town, the overall design of the shoe features a variety of subtle nods to Oakland. The lattice graphic of Oracle Arena’s ceiling architecture is mimicked both along the shoe’s arch support and the shoe box lid.
“The atmosphere at Oracle is so unique,” Curry said. “From my first season in the league, we didn’t sell out crazy, but there was a different energy. As we’ve gotten better, every single game that intensity is only amplified by how many people are in the building, every single night.”
As he spent the past two years thinking ahead to this moment, the exercise also allowed Curry to reminisce and reflect on some of his career highlights, including the first time he reached the postseason with the Warriors in 2013.
“It was just a shift in our expectation as a team,” Curry said. “We were playing the Phoenix Suns, and we knew what our magic number was to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since the ‘We Believe’ team.”
As then-coach Mark Jackson entered the locker room to address the team after the win, his calm speech caught the players by surprise, only for Jackson to quickly break character and get on with the celebration.
“Congratulations, fellas — we made the playoffs!”
“He took a bottle of water and poured it on his head,” Curry said. “There was a table of bottled water next to him, and everyone ran to go get one and we were spraying it around like it was champagne. That was the sign of many great moments to come.”
The memory is one of many that might find its way onto Curry’s footwear this season. For the Warriors, it was a sign of things to come, as real champagne was flowing just two seasons later.
“Our first parade was a symbol of what Oakland is all about. There was a lot of talk about where we were going to have the parade — was it going to be San Francisco or Oakland, or a little bit of both?” Curry said. “To have it in Oakland, and a community that supported us through some dog years forever, to show out like that, bring that excitement, bring that passion and bring a love — that was so amazing to see.”
With the Warriors yet again expected to be near the top of the league heading into the playoffs, Curry is hoping to pull off one last Oakland-era championship, fittingly for The Town.
“When it comes to our legacy in league history … it cements the Bay as a basketball city,” Curry said. “Why not consider us one of the all-time great basketball cities that hosted one of the greatest teams of all time, for however long this run lasts?”