OAKLAND, Calif. — For years, Stephen Curry watched his father, Dell, play a role in the community. Curry was often among the children in Charlotte, North Carolina treated to special appearances from star athletes and he still cherishes those sweet memories.
“That’s how I grew up,” Curry said. “I was blessed to see my dad and how he interacted with kids my age at the time. He was going to youth camps and different school events. I know how happy me and my friends were at that age to see somebody we looked up to come and spend some time [with us]. I don’t want to take those opportunities for granted, no matter what the schedule is or what’s going on outside of that event. That’s a time for them.”
That means those times occasionally arrive in the middle of the Golden State Warriors’ special season and quest for the NBA wins record, which Curry and the Warriors (72-9) will try to accomplish in the regular-season finale Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. They tied the mark set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 on Sunday, defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 92-86.
On a rainy Tuesday last month, when Curry had the day off, he spent several hours at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. He spoke to the kids about the importance of drinking water, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making the right choices and going to college.
This is normal for Curry, even a day after becoming the first player to make 300 3-pointers in a season and less than 24 hours after the Warriors set yet another record in a season full of them — this time for the best regular-season home winning streak, which reached 45 games. The visit took place in the middle of playing five games in seven days, no less.
Curry, honored for his charitable service in the past, is a regular participant for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For every 3-pointer he makes, Curry donates three bed nets to fight malaria through the Nothing But Nets campaign. He has made a record 392 3-pointers so far this season.
Hat on backward and wearing a big smile that afternoon, the reigning NBA MVP, likely headed for another such honor, pumped his right fist when someone gave a good answer to a trivia question. He waved and high-fived while making his entrance, and even chanted along when appropriate.
Sometimes, the Warriors worry just a bit about their do-everything point guard overextending himself.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He genuinely cares. Sometimes he does too much stuff, we try to pull him back, pull the reins back because everyone wants a piece of him and he has a hard time saying no.”
Among giggling, giddy children, Curry is clearly in his element. It’s an approach that translates from the court — and one that has drawn criticism from older players who don’t appreciate his abilities or the Warriors’ overall style of play.
The scrutiny is part of it, Curry insists. It means he’s doing something special.
“When it’s talking just about basketball, I know any time there’s a successful player or team, they’re going to have more of a spotlight, and people are going to ask questions about whoever it is,” Curry said. “This day and age, you say something controversial and it’s going to hit the airways pretty quick. When there are legends and people that I looked up to as a player — as a young kid, as a basketball player — Hall of Famers and guys that talk about our team, it means that obviously we’re doing something good, so we keep doing it. I take it with a grain of salt. Unless they’re in the room with me and we’re talking back and forth about what’s going on, then I don’t put too much weight into it.”
Former Philadelphia 76ers forward Julius Erving, a Hall of Famer, is among those who have been a fan of the way Curry plays.
“It’s so interesting when they talk about creating a simulator to duplicate what Steph Curry does on the court and the simulator can’t measure up because it just doesn’t look real,” Erving said. “That’s what he’s been doing on the court — things that really don’t look real to the normal eye, and you have to give him kudos for that.”
Curry sometimes gets tired from all of the fanfare and the NBA grind, not to mention the typical lack of sleep for a father with two young girls.
“The schedule’s crazy and obviously, we’re right in the middle of the season, so there are times where you might wake up and not want to get out of bed or whatever, but it is helpful to remember how I felt as a kid and the stuff my dad taught me, and be reminded the importance of the stage and the platform we have,” Curry said. “I want to use it.”
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