27 years ago today, an NBA sharpshooter and his wife gave birth to a machine. The Golden Child. Chosen One. The true “Born Ready” – all of these titles can describe Wardell Stephen Curry II, the best shooter (and arguably best player) in the NBA, and maybe ever. His dad, Dell Curry, was known as a sniper. Long distance needs? Who ya gonna call? A career with the Cavs, Jazz, and Bucks, but forever thought of as a Charlotte Hornet. Steph was born two years into his dad’s career and grew up before our eyes, a true gym rat if ever there was one. All-Star games and three-point shootouts? He was there. Practices and drills with pros? Almost before he could walk. As a child he was exposed to more basketball knowledge and lessons than we get in an entire lifetime. And like Downy, he picked it up quick.
Look at that bench? How could you NOT love basketball growing up around that lifestyle? As he grew, but not much, college offers were scarce to nil. Choosing to stay close to home, and because Coach McKillop was a generous man, Steph went to Davidson. Soon after, legendary feats of scoring were grumbled about, sometimes even getting a liner note on SportsCenter. Second in the nation amongst freshman scoring behind some cat in Texas named Durant. Then came the March – Madness, that is. Davidson had not won a game when it counted since 1969. This year was no different, but Steph scored 30 in the loss to Maryland.
Sophomore year was more of the same – setting records and breaking ankles, even playing one of the greatest individual tourney games ever, scoring 40 points against Gonzaga in the school’s first win since 1969. Then the Hoyas came up and he destroyed them with 30. Then Wisconsin and the Elite 8 as the prize. Steph dotted a 33 spot. But the Jayhawks decided enough was enough in the 8 and Steph went home.
By his Junior year, Steph was entrenched in the top ten in draft boards. An early season game against the Sooners and Blake Griffin resulted in 44 points in the Garden during a loss. The team lost in the conference tournament and were left home on Selection Sunday, eventually losing in the NIT to St. Mary’s.
Long known for run and gun, shooters are beloved basketball, the Warriors picked Steph seventh in the draft in 2009. And it was ON. From the start, as a point guard, he was a leader. Finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting (RECOUNT) behind Tyreke Evans, he averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals for the season.
He has only gotten better. Three-pointers from outer space, contest winnings, playoffs, Splash Brothers, and this year, one of three favorites for the MVP (and my personal pick). He has made “little ball” exciting again. Not everyone has the athleticism of Lebron, Dirk’s height, Brow’s alien-ism, or Westbrook’s westbrook-ness. Everyone knows that guy at the gym who hits EVERY shot from thirty feet, handles like no other, and makes the opposite team look stoooopid every game. This is Steph. Only he does it to our other heroes.
This year he also celebrates another first – his own signature shoe. The Under Armour Curry 1 debuted during All-Star weekend to sell-outs and lines outside the stores in NYC (I was there, trust me). Wanting a shoe that was affordable but performance-driven, Under Armour pulled no punches, giving him two new technologies with AnaFoam and Charged Foam cushioning, for keeping him steady on those 25 foot pullups.
So here is to you, Mr. Curry. We have watched you grow up and grow into a class human being, an otherworldly ball player, and someone who will lead the way for the League for years to come. Congratulations – you are THE man.