There can be A LOT of ways to determine a “best of” anything. Reading everyone’s “Best Sneakers of 2015” is a perfect example. A lot of crossover but all different.
There has already been a lot of speculation as to what brand “won” 2015. Our own Juan Carrillo finds that Jordan Brand is still the reigning champ. Just last week Dan Freebairn of “Kick Posters” released his research of “most liked” brands on Instagram and as it turns out, adidas ran away with that title. Personally, from strictly an aesthetic perspective, adidas has won the last 2 years. It just so happens they also won our site’s official award for Brand of the Year.
But, like I said, there are a lot of ways to determine the “Brand of the Year”.
For this take, I am going to base it completely on performance. Who did the best wearing what.
The New England Patriots cap off a 12-4 season with a 6th consecutive AFC East title. Even with “PSI: New England”, “Deflategate” or whatever you called it, they entered University of Phoenix Stadium for a date with the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Tom Brady went 37-50, and won another Super Bowl… and another Super Bowl MVP.
The Golden State Warriors had their best season in franchise history with a 67-15 record, best in the NBA. They steamrolled their way through the playoffs taking care of New Orleans, Memphis and Houston en route to the NBA Finals where they took care of King James. Captain, team leader and leading scorer Stephen Curry garnered league MVP honors and became one of the league’s brightest stars. While Curry didn’t have the BEST numbers in the league, the way he got them and continues to get them has us all shaking our heads.
Arguably one of the most exciting players to watch in Major League Baseball (not named Mike Trout) is Bryce Harper. While the Washington Nationals fell way below their Spring Training expectations, Harper raked all year long with a .330 average, 99 RBI and 42 HRs. Numbers good enough to get him NL MVP.
Jordan Spieth put together arguably one of the greatest years in PGA History in 2015. Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open and was halfway to the Grand Slam. Spieth tied for 4th in The Open Championship and was 2nd in the PGA. Tack on a Tour Championship as well as FedEx Cup title and all of the PGA accolades and you have one for the ages.
The Carolina Panthers were the last undefeated team in the NFL until the Falcons had something to say about it. At 15-1 they easily have the best record in the NFL with captain Cam Newton as easy choice for offensive MVP. Newton continues to tear up opponents defenses.
By now you easily know what the common denominator is. Under Armour.
Kevin Plank and his team have looked like endorsement geniuses worthy of a Nobel Prize with the stable they’ve assembled. Stealing Brady and Curry away from Nike and jumping on the highly acclaimed Newton and Spieth out of college were brilliant moves by the Under Armour execs.
Plank’s “college project” has made the move from performance clothing into the big boy world of footwear look almost seamless with the play of these five men in 2015. With guys like Newton and Curry already with signatures, the play of newly minted superstars like Harper and Spieth should gain them signature status soon.
Indeed we’ve seen Nike and Adidas all over the college football and basketball landscape. Our pro leagues are also saturated with those brands, but in 2015, the biggest stars wore Under Armour on the biggest stages. And they won.
No other brand enjoyed that type of success from its group of endorsers. Everything fell into place and with no signs of stopping, it’s staying in that place. Having the most elite athletes in the three major sports as well as in Golf all at the same time is certainly rivalling some of the years Nike has had with its greats, but I can’t remember a year where it was this dominant… and it may happen again.
It was, and still is right in front of our eyes.