Stephen Curry represents a fresh face, a fresh image for the NBA. He’s worked his way up to star status, though playing for the Golden State Warriors keeps him from standing shoulder to shoulder with others in that rarefied air.
Still, to see a smallish point guard get his due puts basketball under a 1,000-watt light for thousands of Black and white ballers who harbor NBA aspirations. They will discover this weekend in the NBA All-Star Game, Curry’s first, that they don’t have to stand 6-foot-6 or taller to make a difference in the league.
For at 6'2", Curry makes a big difference in ways that might not show themselves on the arena floor. He displays an appreciation for the cheering that some of the game’s brightest stars seem to dismiss.
At Quicken Loans Arena last month, he led the Warriors to a 108-104 victory over the host Cleveland Cavaliers. After his 29-point game – or maybe it was during the game – Curry spotted a 13-year-old boy who was wearing his No. 30 jersey. As he walked off the arena floor, Curry took off one of his shoes, signed it and handed the shoe to the boy.
It was tiny gesture; it was not, however, a forgettable gesture. You doesn’t forget those moments of kindness, not when those moments come from somebody he roots for.
Yet kindness doesn’t turn a player into an All-Star. He has to bring more to the arena floor than that. He has to be tough as beef jerky, resilient and smart if he lacks size and looks, as the 25-year-old Curry does, as if he’s no more than boy himself.
“Curry the All-Star” – the term took years to make. He showed glimpses of being that good, but the Western Conference was stacked with guards whose play and whose teams got more TV time than Curry’s did.
At some point, even the TV cameras can’t ignore a player, though they seemed to have tried hard with Curry, who outpolled Kobe in the fan balloting. After the playoffs last spring, the cameras and media had to focus on him; they had to see the statistics he was putting up.
He was playing … well, Steph Curry was playing like the Steph Curry that went underappreciated when he led tiny Davidson to March Madness fame.
You remember him, right? He was the wiry and smallish long-range shooter with the good looks who could beat his defender off the dribble or throw up a rainbow jumper that touched nothing but the twine.
Now, he’s among the NBA’s elite. Curry has the credentials that match his high-end performances, and if network TV could end its obsession with the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, maybe those of us east of the Mississippi can see more of the player whose star is rising.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
BET Sports News -- Get the latest news and information about African-Americans in sports including weekly recaps, celebrity news and photos of your favorite Black athletes. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Follow Justice B. Hill on Twitter: @jbernardh
(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)