Everyone is still trying to figure out Steph Curry and, you know, What. It. All. Means.
In this case the word "All" refers to Curry's life off the court as well as his often transcendent powers on it.
Of course, there's the basketball player that journalists need to deal with. But then there's Curry the man, Curry the black man and Curry the maybe not-black-enough man. This leads to Curry the husband, Curry the father, Curry the family man and, in a few cases, Curry the son of disciplined Christian parents who taught him right and wrong, as well as that lightning flash jumper (care of an NBA sharpshooter faith).
This week I ran into two very different stories that set out to deal with the mystery of Steph Curry and company.
Here is your challenge. Look at the two excerpts. Which of the following is an ESPN essay and which is from the magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?
First, here are two samples from a piece called "The Revolution," that starts with a focus on Steph's parents, Dell and Sonya Curry.
... Watching their highlight-reel child lead a once-woebegone franchise to great heights can be exhausting. Dell, a TV analyst for the Charlotte Hornets and a longtime NBA veteran, and Sonya, the owner and headmaster of a Christian Montessori school, live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Both their sons play for West Coast NBA teams (25-year-old Seth just completed his first full season with the Sacramento Kings). So whenever at least one of the boys is playing a West Coast night game and Dell isn’t traveling with the Hornets, he and Sonya stay up late to watch the games live, often toggling between TVs in separate rooms. A late tip in the Pacific time zone can mean Dell and Sonya aren’t falling asleep until 1:30 or 2 a.m.
“It’s kind of messing up my whole work schedule,” Sonya says. “We just say that between November and June, we’re just tired.”
But for the Currys, it’s well worth it. In his seventh professional season, “Steph” -- he of single-moniker fame like “LeBron,” “Kobe” or “Magic” -- has become the face of the NBA. As he leads the Warriors in their pursuit of a second-straight NBA championship, the 6-foot-3 point guard is treating the league like his personal playground, making his MVP season of a year ago look comparatively pedestrian with outlandish shots and eye-popping statistics. His peerless 3-point prowess is shattering records and forcing panicked defenses to stretch like worn-out elastic to account for his ever-increasing range.
“I dreamed about being an NBA player and being successful,” Curry says, “but I never thought I’d get this far or understand the situation going on right now. It’s been a whirlwind.”
From the beginning, though, Curry had faith. He believed God could do exceedingly more than anyone expected -- even when he was an adolescent beanpole blipping faintly on the fringes of college basketball’s recruiting radars.
Later in the piece there is this from Steph Curry, himself.
When Curry entered the NBA, he had a strong biblical foundation and some idea, thanks to his father’s advice, of how to stay spiritually faithful in a worldly environment. ...
Curry, who trusted in Christ at a church youth group meeting, says he wants to “grow even more” in sharing his faith with “teammates that may not know Jesus and how He can impact their life.”
“I’m not a guy who’s going to be trying to bash people over the head with the Bible,” he says. “I want people to know when they see me play that something is different, that I play for something different, and whether I’m talking about it [or not], I just hope by the way I carry myself and by the way I play the game, they can see there’s something different about that guy. And they find out what it is and then they know. It’s part of who I am.”
OK, here are some samples from the other think piece about the mystery that is Curry. The title is, "What’s behind Steph Curry’s MVP life: Faith, fatherhood, Ayesha’s feminism and family."
This first chunk is right at the top of the piece:
If anything is certain about the reigning two-time NBA MVP -- besides the arc of the ball as it leaves his hands and finds the hoop with record-breaking accuracy -- it’s that Curry believes in himself because he believes in God. His faith is his pillar, a faith gleaned and nurtured at Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina, a Pentecostal mega-church with 6,000 members where he met his wife as a teen and whose services they continue to stream online.
Steph’s faith undoubtedly helped to keep his team, the Golden State Warriors, together when they were down 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder and left for dead before battling back to win their thrilling Western Conference Finals contest.
“It just keeps me grounded,” Steph said to me. “It keeps me focused, and with the hoopla that goes on around me, my faith doesn’t change, my family doesn’t change. And that allows me to be myself and enjoy what I do for sure.”
His faith has steadied him as he enjoys the perks of a superstar, and its challenges too, especially when his wife and oldest daughter share the spotlight. Even off the court, Steph and his family set tongues to wagging about fatherhood, feminism, and family values.
And here is the second sample from this think piece:
Steph’s wife Ayesha respects her husband because he isn’t the boastful sort despite repeating as the league’s MVP. “After his speech [accepting the MVP award], we had a dinner and he didn’t say much about it,” Ayesha Curry told me. “It was just like the basics of trying to win this championship. So even in our house that’s not much talked about unless there’s a game on. Everything’s very normal around here.”
Ayesha admires her husband’s quiet faith. Steph appears to me to possess less the showy evangelism of Tim Tebow and more the understated spirituality of President Jimmy Carter. Ayesha believes that trait makes Steph especially effective in proclaiming God to the world through his actions. “They see Stephen and they wonder why he’s so nice,” she said. “They wonder why he’s so humble. I think that’s the whole mission of this all – for him to shed light that way. It’s never projecting views onto people, it’s just living your life for the Lord.”
As an ordained Baptist minister for 35 years, I can testify that living for the Lord isn’t always smooth sailing. As the protagonist of the old gospel song reminds struggling Christians, “Nobody told me that the road would be easy.”
Steph has had his share of bumps, too: some have wondered if his game was too soft or too “white,” or if his ankles would hold up, while others questioned whether he deserved to be the first unanimous MVP selection. ...
But it’s off the court where Steph and wife Ayesha and their daughter Riley have made a powerful impression. It’s also where they’ve endured not a few flagrant fouls. Steph and his wife have brought a verve and wholesomeness to black coupledom that is rivaled only by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Steph takes as much pride in his marriage as in his transcendent basketball achievements – perhaps even more.
“I think everybody knows that nothing comes before his family,” Steph’s teammate Draymond Green told me. “It’s incredible to see, especially firsthand. But it’s not a façade.”
So was it hard to figure out which was which?
What were the big clues, as to which was which?
BONUS: Here is a recent Q&A with Steph Curry, care of the FCA.