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Steph Curry, Basketball Revolutionary, Is Starting to Chase Change Off the Court

Stephen Curry is a revolutionary figure in the land of basketball. While LeBron James remains the king of the realm, a consensus is building that Curry, and the Golden State Warriors team built around him, have fundamentally changed the game. Along the way, they’ve overwhelmed James’ Cavaliers in two of the last three NBA Finals.

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Simply put, no one ever played like Curry and the Warriors. The question may now be whether, barring any rule changes from the NBA, successful teams will play any other way in the future.

The Warriors play fast and fluid with the ball, and on the defensive end they’re all long arms and versatility. But more than anything, they can shoot. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are elite three-point shooters, and Golden State often fields lineups that are a threat from distance at all five positions. That stretches out the defense and opens up driving lanes, too. Curry is at the center of all of this, in part because he’s a threat off the dribble. More than that, at age 30, Curry has already built a solid case he will go down as the greatest deep-range shotmaker to ever play the game.

Oh, and he’s also a two-time MVP and, as mentioned, a two-time NBA champion.

But even beyond all that, Curry is in the vanguard of this generation’s professional athletes willing to speak out publicly on the social and political issues of the moment. Appalled at the president’s behavior, particularly following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Curry suggested this preseason that he would prefer to skip the customary visit to the White House reserved for major-sport champions.

This got him a namecheck on Trump’s Twitter feed as the president rescinded the Warriors’ invitation, but he and the team took it in stride. When it came time to visit Washington, they crewed up with a group of students from Kevin Durant’s nearby hometown of Suitland, Maryland, and visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture—a telling choice.

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Not all Curry’s work is happening on the court, though, as he’s also partnered with Brita to bring clean water to an Oakland school system struggling with a contaminated supply on a systemic level. That’s a national problem, and when we caught up with Curry, we assessed the implications of that and a whole lot more.

Some say you and the Warriors have ushered in a basketball revolution. Is that true?

I think there’s a certain skill set that we have as a team. How much we rely on each other, sharing the ball, shooting threes, playing at a fast pace, spreading the floor. And winning championships while doing it. That’s kind of reshaped how teams put together rosters over the summer, and try to close the gap. So it’s a different era, a different time in basketball, and I think we’ve had a lot to do with it for sure.

At the 2016 NBA Finals.

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Was there a player you wanted to be growing up, or did you always just want to be Steph Curry?

I always wanted to stay true to who I am, and who I was as a player. But I was always trying to model my game after Steve Nash and Reggie Miller. Those were my two favorite players, and guys—I always thought I wanted to morph those two guys together, like a super-player, almost. Be creative with the ball, as a playmaker, as a PG. Able to distribute like Steve Nash did, with his creativity. But also be able to shoot and play off the ball like Reggie did as combo guard-type vibe. I used to want to take the best of both those guys.

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Who’s the most challenging matchup in the league at your position?

“I always thought I wanted to morph those two guys together, like a super-player, almost.”

You could look at all 30 of the starting point guards across the league and it’s hard to pick. Obviously you have your guys who separated themselves a little bit. You’ve got your Russ [Westbrook], CP [Chris Paul], Kyrie [Irving], John Wall, Kyle Lowry—guys that play at a superstar level every single year. The hardest thing about playing the point guard position is you’ve got to be on every night for that reason.

When Under Armour released the Curry 2 it got memed on social media. Was that on your radar?

I definitely heard about it. I embraced it at the time, because it was early in the signature shoe game. You obviously want to put out the best product every single time. Sometimes you do, sometimes you have some misses. For me, I think we’ve taken that moment and really elevated and evolved the product to where it’s turning heads in a positive way. You always want to give that heat every single time, but sometimes you miss a little bit—just like on the court. You just got to keep it moving. What comes next?

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Your work with Brita is centered around getting clean water to kids in Oakland public schools. How did that issue come to your attention?

When you talk about communities and schools, contaminated water has been a nationwide conversation at this point. There are so many school districts that are dealing with similar issues, trying to figure out a solution to the contamination in the water supply for their students. They often rely on bottled water as a solution.

So we partnered with Brita on the Filter for the Future campaign. We’re pledging one dollar from the sales of Brita’s long-last filter to provide schools around the country with Brita hydration stations. It’s a solution for clean, safe drinking water. And we’re trying to obviously continue to bring awareness around the issue, but also find a solution that will help the students, the schools, and the environment—to cut down on waste and protect our kids’ health.

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Curry hands out filters to Oakland students.

Brita

As a team, the Warriors ultimately chose to visit the Museum of African-American History instead of the White House when you were in Washington. Why did you feel that was important?

We wanted to be able to control the narrative around the celebration and conversation of us winning a championship. And not let somebody else who wasn’t spreading positivity and love do that for us. So it was a great opportunity to reach out to the community, to have that interaction with some kids from Seat Pleasant, Maryland. And give them an experience at the National African-American History and Culture Museum that they might not have had contextualized—our history as a country, where we are and where we’re going. Our championship was an opportunity to create that experience and that interaction, and I think we did an amazing job of controlling the narrative and the positivity around us winning a championship.


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