When the NBA playoffs begin this weekend, Stephen Curry will be a little lighter on his feet. Seriously, it's a proven technological fact.
The Under Armour Curry 3 shoes got minor surgery that could have a major impact on Curry. The Team Royal Curry 3ZER0, a specific Curry 3 playoff edition, will hit stores Saturday. The two-time reigning NBA MVP is set debut the model on the court during the Warriors' playoff opener against the Trail Blazers.
Curry 3 lead designer Kort Neumann, who has been in communication with Curry all season, pulled the trigger on the changes, based on the star's advice.
"The 3ZER0 is essentially the equivalent of comparing a marathon shoe to a racing spike," Neumann says. "It's not compromising any containment for him. We just basically took out as much weight as we could. We made it as breathable as possible. We kind of turned it into a racecar."
The Warriors move at a faster pace than most of the NBA, and Curry, as the point guard, has to set that pace. The Curry line has already gone through rapid adjustments in its three seasons, as Under Armour attempts to compete on the same level as competitors Nike/Jordan and Adidas.
Unlike a regular-season model, the 3ZER0 is specifically made to be used for a shorter run, with Curry, or any user, not worried about longevity of the sneaker.
"Usually, he's got a six-month shoe," Neumann says. "This is the postseason. This is two months, so this is something that's a little bit lighter, airier, more race-like, if you will."
Neumann hammers down the racecar analogy, which makes sense considering the desires Curry has for his shoe. Sports cars give drivers the opportunity to hear the horsepower. A loud engine is a healthy engine.
Meanwhile, Curry needs to hear his shoe at work, just as much as he needs to feel its impact.
"He likes comfort," Neumann says. "He likes to his lockdown and containment. He loves the squeak of traction on the court. He really likes that squeak. It's kind of an indicator for him that it sticks in the ground."
Players who cringe at the sound of gym floor squeaking should steer clear of the Curry 3ZER0, but those who love the sound should consider getting their hands on a pair.
In terms of Curry's involvement, Neumann says he "knows what he likes." Curry comes to Under Armour meetings with a notebook and is direct and "engaging."
"During the season, we're always getting feedback from Steph," Neumann says. "We're always asking him questions. We're analyzing and observing, trying to figure out how to make changes on the fly for the shoe for the postseason, so when he gets to the shoe, all those quirks and issues are resolved or improved on what he's looking for. If anything's changed during his season, we can address that for the postseason."
That is the reasoning for having a playoff shoe. There is limited fear of disrupting Curry's game with the introduction of a new model. The design is an improved model of the original shoe, and Curry has been testing the Curry 3ZER0 at Warriors' practices and even wore them in one NBA game.
Neumann says Curry wanted to "keep it a minimal shoe," but there is one particularly intriguing styling. The tongue of the sneaker, in Braille, spells out "4:13," which is an ode to Philippians 4:13, the Bible verse that inspires Curry's "I can do all things" slogan. The back of the sneaker features "ALL THINGS" in text.
Fans can buy (and test for themselves) the Team Royal colorway starting April 15. Under Armour released 30 pairs of a gold-and-white colorway during a scavenger hunt in New York City on March 4. The next day, Curry wore the 3ZER0 for the only time during the regular season, a win against the Knicks. (Curry scored 31 points and made five three-pointers that day in Madison Square Garden.) The Curry 3ZER0 will retail for $119.99.