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Under Armour's Elite 24 Game Highlights Battle With Nike For Basketball Supremacy

Under Armour's Elite 24 Game Highlights Battle With Nike For Basketball Supremacy - Under Armour, Inc. NYSE:UA, Nike, Inc. NYSE:NKE

Over the years, the Elite 24 has risen to be a premiere grassroots basketball event featuring the top 24 high school seniors in the nation. The event is played in a one-of-a-kind venue, an outdoor court at Brooklyn Bridge Park with New York City's dramatic skyline in the backdrop.

The Elite 24 showcases some of the top upcoming stars in the country, many of whom enter the NBA in no time, but is also a way for Under Armour to showcase new gear on TV. Under Armour is releasing player-exclusive shoes specifically for the game called the Clutchfit Drive 3 Elite 24 "PE."

Not only is the Elite 24 a way for Under Armour to highlight new gear, but also a way to build a relationship and familiarity with the top players in the nation. The event takes players from adidas AG (ADR) ADDYY 0.15% and Nike Inc NKE 3.08%'s respective grassroots leagues; with the game gaining notoriety, it has become a threat to Nike.

Last year, Nike made headlines after quickly announcing a game to be played in the Bahamas on the same date as the Elite 24 against the Bahamian National team in an attempt to steal some thunder — and players — away from the event. This year, the company is taking it a step further and pulling out all the stops to prevent the future NBA stars from wearing an Under Armour logo on TV.

"Under Armour had been striking hard and fast in the grassroots market. They have shown they are serious at being sponsors at major colleges, a tactic that helped elevate Nike quickly in basketball back in the day," said Indihoops.com, an authority on AAU basketball rankings.

Nike will continue to run its Bahamas event, but has now announced it will bring a 12-man team to the White House before the event kicks off in the Caribbean. Nike's drastic response to Under Armour's Elite 24 game exemplifies the heated battle the two brands are engaged in, specifically regarding the future of basketball.

It's no secret that basketball is a key segment for the top athletic apparel brands, with Foot Locker, Inc. FL 11.43%'s Q2 highlighting the strength of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant's shoe line responsible for Friday's earnings beat and 12 percent rise.

Next year will likely reveal even more additions from both brands' events in August 2017.

"Nike knows they need to play some defense which they are not used to, but nonetheless the plot thickens in the shoe wars," added Indihoops.com.

The Elite 24 Game will be on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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