Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry’s impact on the Warriors, the NBA, and especially San Francisco is deeper than just his game. As several NBA analysts have mentioned, Curry has a special bond with the fans in Golden State’s Oracle Arena. The atmosphere in the arena is one of the best in the NBA to begin with, and they love all their Warriors – but there is something palpable and magical between the Steph and the Bay Area fans. All it takes is one little run at a home game to demonstrate it.
And as was the case when Davidson charged into the Elite Eight a few years ago – getting within a single bad bounce of beating eventual champion Kansas – the baby-faced Curry simply looks too young and too nice to be the hoops assassin he is. He is an elite player to be sure, but his game is somehow more mesmerizing than it is effective. Yes, Curry broke the NBA’s all-time record for made 3-pointers in a single season. And yes, his combination of scoring, assists and shooting percentage has set one of those obscure ESPN-only combo statistics. And yes, the Warriors rolled the favored Denver Nuggets out of the playoffs 4 games to 2 behind his shooting.
“When he’s shooting the ball that way” says ESPN’s Kenny Smith, “it’s the top arena in the country. I was like … I gotta go see this … that electricity … there’s no (other) arena that does that … it’s like everybody in unison is saying the same oohs and ahhs. It’s an unbelievable feeling.” Smith is right, and it comes across on TV as well.
To be fair, Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes and David Lee are also great shooters having great seasons. And coach Mark Jackson is having one of those years where every move he makes is the right one, and his relationship with the fans is also something special. All of that is important too.
But this is Curry’s team and Curry’s story, something that can be observed by visiting #dubnation, a hash tag that is certainly trending. What else is observable is that this is also a San Francisco story. And that’s the irony.
Curry grew up near Charlotte, nearly three thousand miles and a million light years away from the Bay Area culturally. The son of an NBA player of 16 years, he and his brother Seth, and one sister, were raised in what is nothing short of a storybook family by parents Dell and Sonya. He accepted Christ as a youth, and his faith has continued to guide his life ever since. In prep school he had to be forced not to pass too much. At home he spent time shooting with his dad and playing one on one with Seth, who recently finished his career at Duke. At Davidson, Steph hung out with non-athletes in the student union after games. To this day, he still marks his sneakers with Bible scriptures – and is spending this off-season in sub-Saharan Africa with his wife on mission work. You almost feel like you have to pinch him to make sure he’s real.
Curry certainly looks the part of an all American kid, and like he would be a nice person, and apparently he genuinely is. And his game, a combination of a saccharine sweet shooting stroke and a series of mind-boggling and peerless dribble reversals that are his own is must see TV. There is just something about it that is different than any other player’s game. He is the boy next door, in his driveway practicing fantasy shots -except that it’s taking place in the real NBA and in the real playoffs. And yes, they are all going in!
And in the region where the phrase “bitter clingers” was first uttered – where public employees may get their gender-altering surgeries paid for by the taxpayers – a product of Mayberry-type values is now the unquestioned favorite son.
As astonishing as it is, the love for Curry in San Francisco is pure; as pure as a jumper from any of the three Curry men hanging out at home after church on Sunday. Nothing but net.