A little 2 on 1 with Steph Curry
Emily Palmer '08 has nine points so far this season. Sports Information
On Thursday afternoon, we interviewed one of Davidson's most cherished sons, Stephen Curry. Steph, as he is known, is back on campus due to the work stoppage that has put the NBA season on hold. We sat down with him and went inside the mind of Stephen Curry.
It's the lockout now and you're back here trying to wrap up your undergrad degree. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into that decision?
The opportunity to come back and having an unsure situation with the lockout, not really knowing when we're going to start and having four credits left to finish my degree -- the opportunity to get that done was a blessing in disguise. I live in Charlotte during the summer, so it makes sense since I am so close to campus and to take classes. It's a whole different schedule, getting back into it, but it's definitely an opportunity to finish what I started and promised myself to do since I left early.
What was it like walking back into your first class after two years of being away?
It was cool, knowing where Chambers was, going back to the old classrooms. It was definitely surreal. I knew I had to come back eventually, going back knowing that the senior class now was the last class that was with me.
During this question, Steph, who had been acting very disinterested in the interview, whipped out his cell phone to take a call. We were shocked to say the least. Before we even started, he strolled in late, with his iPod in his ear, and asked us what The Davidsonian was. Not a good start. We both thought to ourselves, "How can you not know The Davidsonian? It's just the paper you've been featured on countless times."
He didn't look like he wanted to be there at all. His attitude conflicted with what we had heard about him, which was that he was a really nice guy and down-to-earth. He seemed like he was "big-leaguing" us and acting like a jerk. But when he answered the call from his cell phone, he burst into laughter, saying "I can't do this anymore." Apparently, he and Ms. Lauren Biggers in the Sports Information Department had planned to "punk" us all along. His whole "big league" attitude was all a ruse, and it worked. The fact that he could not keep the act going for more than three minutes tells you more about what kind of person he is than this interview. When all the laughter had died down, we resumed the interview by asking the question again.
The only class I was here with was the senior class now, and they were freshman. I vaguely know a couple people and recognize some people walking up through the hallways of Chambers and going to class. It was real weird sitting back in the desk and taking notes for a lecture. Got the first one out of the way and it's not normal, but it's as normal as it's going to get now. I've got my routine down and figured out when and where to study.
So has anyone come up to you and had any funny encounters with you or said anything funny?
I don't know the freshman's name, but her mom came up to me in the Union and told me this huge story about how her daughter used to watch the games when we were playing in the tournament. I guess the daughter's younger brother who is back at home said that if her mom saw me to get my autograph. So she pulled off a flyer from one of the bulletin boards in the Union and asked me to sign it. That was the third day of school - pretty funny. Other than that, just a bunch of awkward stares every once in a while from people not really expecting me to be back, just shocked to see me with a book bag on, but nothing too crazy.
Do you still love Commons?
I do. I haven't been back there yet with no meal plan now, so I just gotta wing it. That was a fun video we did. Don't know if everybody who was a part of that: Austin Bell, who did The Davidson Show, Steve Rossiter, Charlie Reiter, just name dropping a bunch of guys who were in there. I don't know if they're gonna come back and help us do part two. But we'll see what happens.
What's a typical day like?
I guess it would be easiest to just spit it off. So, today, Tuesday/ Thursday class, I'll wake up about 6:30. It's about an hour commute from South Charlotte with morning traffic for my 8:15 class. I have class and have a little break between classes at 12:15, so I work out here at Baker and get some shots up. Then, I go to my second class and find time to lift and work out afterwards. I'm actually doing extensive ankle rehab right now. I had surgery back in May so, to get my ankle back to 100%, that's my early afternoon project. I just got married a month and a half ago, so I have a good time with the wife at home. So, it's structured with a lot of commuting and trying to find some time for me and my wife.
What did you miss most about Davidson?
For me, the basketball program. Some of the same coaches who coached me in my three years here are still here. Coach McKillop, Jim Fox, the camaraderie the guys have on campus and that bond that I remember so well from being here and the atmosphere at Davidson as a whole. There's nothing like it; it's hard to explain it to other people. But when you come back, you feel comfortable. Like I said, I don't know the student body as well as I did when I left, but in my classes I have now, and meeting people who are down to earth and treating me like a normal person- it's a very unique place. When I left, I found out just how unique it was. Coming back, it reassures and reaffirms that Davidson is why it's Davidson. It's nice to come back here everyday and see some familiar faces and to relive all the feelings I had two years ago.
There's been some talk about you helping out with the basketball team. Can you shed some light on that? Can you recruit?
Basically, I'm a full-time student, so my NBA status I don't think conflicts with that because we're in the lockout. All of our bylaws and contracts and stipulations are put on hold. I'm a full-time student that can be a student- assistant for the basketball team. I'm gonna help out where I can and shed some light to some guys who want to know about getting through the SoCon season and preparing for the NCAA tournament and all the things that I experienced. But, my goal is not to be a shadow over them, because this is their time to make history and make a story for themselves. I want to help out when I can, but not to bring much more to the light to what's going inside the locker room. It's their time, so Coach McKillop is giving me a little flexibility to help out where I can. It is still kind of unclear how I'll make that happen.
You talked about the SoCon, and that's an animal in the college realm. Going to the NBA, that's a completely different animal. Can you tell us about that transition?
It was fun to hear all the criticism coming out of college about how I was under recruited in high school and had success at the college level. I heard the same story again as I went to the NBA- that I was too small and not quick enough to play point guard. It was fun to put that in the back of my mind and work hard, and getting drafted 7th was a dream come true for me. Coming out of high school I had no idea that would actually happen- it was a fun ride and has been ever since then. I've been playing against the best point guards in the world. Every night you have a different animal on your hands. There's Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, it's a back to back to back kind of a thing. It's definitely a whole new world, but I'm a student of the game and have kept my same mentality that I had here at Davidson. Attacking it head on when I get there, and using what I've learned my last two years and helping my team get to new heights has been a lot of fun.
Who would you say is the toughest player to defend?
On any given night take a pick. I haven't been to the playoffs yet, but I'm sure you get the best of everybody every single night so, that's something I want to see. I guess right now in my experience, I'd say Deron Williams is the toughest because he's the most physically demanding point guard in the league and he's smart to top it off. You have to guard him totally different than every other point guard in the league, which makes it tough.
Being on an NBA team, are the guys cool or is it more like a "business?"
It's a little bit of both. It's a little more of a business because you're going to work, going to practice, rehab, lifting weights. You have a big block of time from 9 in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon where you're at the gym with each other. You're working out and you're trying to get to that goal that you set at the beginning of the season. You build your camaraderie that way. But after that time's over, you're going home. Everybody has their own families, their own interests outside of basketball. You find the guys who share common interests with you outside of the gym, and that's how teams build as they go. It's not always the case with every team, but out in Golden State we have, I wouldn't say we have cliques, but we have three or four guys that you kind of hang out with more than the rest outside of the gym. When we're in the gym, everybody is about business and you're not going back to the dorms afterwards to find stuff to do. You're at the gym, getting your work in, so you use your time wisely when you're in there.
What was it like playing in the FIBA World Championships?
It was an amazing experience. Starting from the first tryout to standing on the platform in Istanbul was a learning experience for me and playing under Coach K. We were underdogs in the world's eyes because we didn't have the top guys in the NBA like LeBron, Kobe, and Carmelo Anthony. Those guys weren't on the team, so we had a bunch of young guys just trying to make a name for themselves on the international stage. The unity we had on the team and the identity we took as we went through that whole process was a lot of fun to be a part of. Getting that gold medal, we join maybe 30 other guys who have a world championship gold medal representing the USA, which is a pretty elite group to be a part of. I can always rest my hat on that - that I'm one of those guys that has reached that top with my team. Everybody is pretty much the man on their team, so they had to leave something home and take on that team identity which is a pretty difficult task. It's harder to do than say, but we got it done.
Tell me a little bit about your upbringing and the relationship with your family.
We have a very tight-knit family and have been in Charlotte forever. It was a lot of fun to grow up with an NBA dad who was always in the gym. He wasn't around with the NBA travel schedule so my mom took the disciplinary role, molding me and my siblings into the people we are today. It was a nice balance since I got my dad all the time in the summer. My brother is now taking that next step in his pursuit to be a successful basketball player at Duke. This is going to be a big year for him, to see how he steps up into that leadership role on the biggest stage in college basketball. It's debatable, but Duke's up there, if it's not the top. It will be fun to see him play and watch him develops into a quality ballplayer. My parents will support him like they support me. We even have a little sister who is playing volleyball at Charlotte Christian who is a junior. We're a big sports family but we try to do it the right way.
Are you going to try to catch any of Seth's games this year?
Yeah, I'll have to see what the schedule is. Hopefully I get to a lot. I haven't been to see him play since he was at Liberty his freshman year, so it'll be nice to see him play in Cameron. I told Coach McKillop that if I'm helping coach when they play Duke, I'm calling in sick. I'll probably have to sit in the Duke section, but it will be an interesting game.
It's widely known that faith is a centerpiece in your life. Do you still write Bible verses on your shoes? How do you live that out during the NBA season?
On every game shoe, I write Philippians 4:13 and Romans 8:28 on either side of the shoe. Philippians 4:13 is my favorite verse and my go-to since my freshman year. I chose that one verse to shape how I was going to play the game and who I was playing for. My mom gave me Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose." That verse reminds me that I have had a lot of success as a basketball player, but to not to take it for granted. I'm on a huge stage, so I can reach a lot of people that I wouldn't normally be able to. It's a definite blessing, and I don't want to take it for granted at all. To be able to do what you love and touch a lot of people by the way you play the game is a blessing.
The NBA's a rollercoaster of a season, how do you stay grounded?
It's definitely tough. You get swallowed up in that NBA world, since it is all year-round, night in-night out. I keep my tight circle around me that I have. I met a lot of great people while I was here at Davidson and I keep in touch with them a lot. My roommate Bryant Barr, the White Lobster, we're best friends and still stay in touch. We try to talk every other day to keep each other sane and encourage each other to get through stuff. It's nice to have an outlet outside the NBA circle that I can reach out to if I need it. I have fun with it - traveling around the country to different cities that I haven't been to before to play the game of basketball. Our team's been getting a whole lot better, so that keeps me driven to get to that next level each season. It's a long road plating 82 games a season and I'm only in my second year. I feel like I've been doing it a whole lot longer. Guys play 15-16 years, so it's definitely something I'm looking forward to.
When you're not doing schoolwork, what do you do in your downtime?
I read a lot of Dan Brown books, Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I'm kind of late on the whole series. It's interesting stuff. I play golf all the time; it's one of my favorite sports. With school now I can't play very often, but all summer my dad and I played a lot. I try to sneak out every once and a while during the week. I played golf in high school and had a lot of fun doing that.
Tiger Woods, obviously. I play a lot of MLB The Show with my Red Sox legacy.
What do you have on your iPod right now?
Lupe Fiasco, a lot of Gym Class Heroes. Actually playing on my iPod right now is Paramore. I'm a big Paramore fan. Haley Williams gets me going.
By today's standards you married young, how has that changed your perspective?
I met her in high school, at youth group. It's the perfect story. I get made fun of all the time for it. I was 15 and she was 14. I've known her for a while and we dated for 3 ½ years before we got married. She's the one- the right one- and she definitely makes me better. Getting married definitely settled me down a little bit, helping me see things for the better. Knowing that I'm not living for myself anymore changed a lot of things. It's only a month and a half into it, so I know a lot of things are coming, but I'm in attack mode.
After a long 10-15 career and you have not 7, not 8, not 9 championships, what do you see yourself doing?
(Laughter) I don't really know. I think something in the game of basketball somehow, whether it's commentating, coaching, or being a part of the front office to see the business side of the game. The business side of the game intrigues me a lot. I've played at every level and seeing how the game changes into business intrigues me. I want to learn about that transformation, and hopefully after a long career I will have some expertise when it comes to that.
You're not planning on teaming up with Bob Ruth [Sociology Professor] and doing some criminal justice?
He's a volunteer with Homeland Security. He has vast knowledge of both terrorism and the front line. I don't know what kind of opportunities he has.
If the lockout ends, what are your duties?
Training camp starts in three weeks, so if we don't get the deal done they start to push that date back. The farther they push that back, the shorter the window when we have to report to when we start playing. So if November rolls around and they call us back to facilities for training camp, we'll have two weeks until we start playing real games. It's going to be a quick turnaround. Guys have to stay in shape and on top of their game. Being in school, I'm on the fence. I want to play, and I want to finish my degree. This semester is huge for me to be able to do that. I would have to wait longer to finish. I don't know which side to jump on right now. I'm waiting to see what happens. The next week and a half will be huge to see how long we're going to be out. The window for them to get a deal done is closing fast.
Here's the million-dollar question. Are you going to play 5 on 5 intramural basketball?
I'm going to have to consult with the SID Department about a campus-wide intramural draft that we can do. If January comes around and I'm still on campus, then we'll see.
Maybe we'll have a 1 on 1 tournament, and the winner plays you.
We'll have something. I'd love to play some intramural. I want to be Omar Pickett "The Ticket," just as long as I don't break something.
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