Stephen Curry already had been named an NBA All-Star starter when the Western Conference reserves were announced two weeks ago, but he received a text message that day that put it all in perspective.
“It was from my Mom and one of the guys who I (train) with in Charlotte,” the Golden State Warriors point guard recalled to USA TODAY Sports recently. “He was saying, ‘Just take a step back and think — two years ago, you were on this (All-Star) snubs list, and now we’re having this conversation about leading the All-Star voting.'”
So how does a player who two years ago wasn’t even an All-Star, who three years ago had chronic ankle problems that made a formidable talent seem fragile, find himself rivaling the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the league’s most popular player?
Curry, who received 1,513,324 votes from the fans to James’ second-most 1,470,483to capture his first All-Star starting spot and second All-Star nod, is second in jersey sales among all NBA players (behind James). He’s neck-and-neck with the Houston Rockets’ James Harden for MVP front-runner consideration and a magnet for marketing deals of every kind — Degree, State Farm, Under Armour, Kaiser Permanente, Express, Muscle Milk and more. All-Star Weekend in New York is as good a sign as any that his star continues to shine: His schedule includes everything from appearances on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning America to a YouTube cooking segment with his wife, Ayesha.
So what is it about Curry’s play, about his personality and panache, that people and all these companies seem so drawn to?
As Curry sees it, his game is relatable — duplicable, even — because of both his skill set and stature. Whereas stars such as James (6-8, 250 pounds) and Durant (6-9, 240) have the kinds of measurements and athleticism that most people can never dream of, Curry dazzles in the kind of wonderful way that fools one into thinking this is just an extreme case of practice making perfect.
“I’m 6-3 and 185 pounds on a good day, so I probably relate more to the casual fan who watches the game and is not super athletic, not this crazy monster of physical stature,” says Curry, who is averaging 23.6 points, 7.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals and whose Warriors have the NBA’s best record (41-9). “I just do it a different way, I guess, and a lot of people love the way the game has kind of shifted — the shooting and the talent at (the) guard (position).
“Obviously we make certain plays that try to be as creative as possible and give the fans some entertainment when they watch us play. I think all those factors go into it, (and) maybe a lot of people are out there thinking, ‘Look at how he’s out there playing. I can do the same thing.’ ”
SOURCE: Sam Amick