At four minutes left in the first half, the camera catches a blur moving in the corner of the screen. Enter Stephen Curry, who receives a pass from his teammate and drains a 3-point shot over a lunging defender on the biggest stage of the National Basketball Association (NBA), game one of the Finals.
After his shot, the camera also picks up Curry making a quick fist pump to his chest and then pointing a finger toward the rafters of Oakland’s Oracle Arena. It’s Curry’s way of thanking God for his success and eventual victory that night over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While Curry put on a dazzling display in the spotlight, the young star had an even more impressive regular season campaign. The number of 3-pointers made by Curry this season (286), was good enough to break the previous record of 272, which Curry notched just two years ago.
Combined with a 67-win season by his Golden State Warriors and the number one seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, Curry’s ability as a dynamic shooter garnered him the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
Photo by Noah Salzman
Lebron James and James Harden were just a couple of the superstars Curry edged out for his first MVP award in his six-year career. Unlike many superstars, Curry credits God – rather than mere hard work – and a passion for the game as the reasons for his emergence as a NBA star.
“First and foremost I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talents to play this game. I can’t say enough how important my faith is to how I play the game and who I am,” Curry said during his acceptance speech for the MVP award.
Curry came to know Christ in middle school, long before he hit the national spotlight. “Our youth pastor told us we needed to make a decision for ourselves, we couldn’t rely on our parents, it had to be a decision on our own and that’s when I made it,” Curry said in an interview with Active Faith.
Curry’s faith has led him to seek out ways to help others less fortunate.
In 2012, the first season he broke the 3-point record, Curry began to participate in the Nothing but Nets campaign. The initiative, spurred by sports columnist Rick Reilly, provides insecticide-treated bed nets to decrease the number of deaths from mosquito-borne malaria. Curry donated 816 bed nets in 2012, three nets for every 3-point shot he made. Curry will donate even more bed nets this year as a result of breaking his own record.
Family has also been a key element in Curry’s development as an athlete and as a Christian. Dell Curry, Stephen’s father, played in the NBA for 16 years and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1994. Sonya Curry, Stephen’s mother, played volleyball for Virginia Tech.
In his MVP acceptance speech, Curry recalled his parents making him sit out the first game of the season in middle school because he didn’t do his chores. “That’s a pretty embarrassing moment if you have to tell your teammate fellows I can’t play tonight, I didn’t do the dishes at home,” Curry recounted with a grin on his face.
Curry noted discipline and faith as two major elements in his upbringing. Discipline and faith would come in handy just a few years down the road as Curry led the 2008 Davidson College basketball program all the way into the Elite Eight before they lost to the University of Kansas, the eventual tournament champions. Davidson’s deep run in the tournament resulted in the nation’s wanting to know a little bit more about the quick guard with the smooth shot.
After his junior season at Davidson, Curry declared for the 2009 NBA draft. He was selected seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors, who went 26-56 in Curry’s rookie campaign. But the Warriors rapidly progressed after a woeful 2009 season due in large part to Curry’s scoring and passing abilities.
With their 67-15 record this season, the franchise increased their win total by 41 in a span of just five seasons.
Game three of the Finals tips off 9 p.m. ET on June 9.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Daniel Woodman, who will be a sophomore journalism major at the University of Missouri, is a summer intern with Baptist Press.)