By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
CHARLOTTE — Over a hundred microphones and cameras crowded around Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry Saturday morning, before he and his brother, Seth, readied to participate in the 3-Point Contest in the city that raised them.
It’s rare that the unofficial host of an All-Star weekend in any sport doesn’t represent the hometown team. In a way, though, both Curry brothers do, even though they play for the Warriors and the Portland Trailblazers.
The Curry brothers grew up in Charlotte, while father Dell played for the Hornets from 1988 to 1998. They spent their formative years here. Now, the first two brothers to participate in the NBA 3-Point Shootout have made a wager for Saturday night.
“Family is obviously big us and our support, so we kind of wanted to weave that into the bet,” said Curry. “So whoever loses has to pick up the tab for all the tickets for anytime we play against each other for the rest of our careers. The stakes are high, considering how many people show up for our games. I got to get the best of him tonight. I know he’s (Seth) very confident though.”
Seth Curry, representing the Portland Trailblazers, currently ranks third in the NBA in 3-point percentage (46 percent) edging out Steph (44 percent) and is not backing down in the slightest to his older brother.
“It’s a big bet, it’s going to be a lot of fun, there’s a lot on the line,” said Seth Curry. “I got to lock in, I got to focus, I got to make some shots, I got to beat Steph … I got to beat all nine (participants) to win, but to win that bet all I got to do is beat Steph. It’s that simple.”
Steph Curry has been on nonstop Charlotte tour the past few days as the unofficial host of the weekend’s festivities.
He’s made an appearance at his alma mater Davidson, where he celebrated an 80-72 win by the Wildcats over Saint Joseph’s on Friday by surfing up the student section for the very first time. As a consensus first-team All-American and NCAA scoring leader in 2009, Curry had never gotten to feel what the student section was like.
What made the win even more special was that Davidson was dressed in specially-designed black Under Armour uniforms and shoes from the SC30 line, while Curry himself wore one of the black jerseys over a hoodie.
Then, the entire Curry clan celebrated the refurbishing of the uptown community center. His mother, Sonya, stole the show, though, as the family fired shots up from half court. Her understated underhanded lob splashed in, drawing an explosive reaction from the crowd.
“I was surprised, because the first four she shot didn’t make the rim,” Stephen Curry said. “Then the last one looked good from the time it left her hand, and I was like ‘wam bam can of ham, that’s going in.’ I got to be like the Energizer Bunny, fight this fatigue and just have as many experiences as I can… see some familiar faces and familiar sites… a lot has happened, a lot of great things.”
Dell Curry was one of the original Charlotte Hornets, and when he left in 1998, was the last of the originals still with the franchise. He still holds records for total games (701), field goals (3,951), 2-point field goals (3,022) and 2-point field goal attempts (6,265), though Kemba Walker has since surpassed his records for field goal attempts, 3-point field goals and 3-point attempts.
Like his father, Stephen Curry wore No. 30, and discovered that he, too, had superb touch from beyond the 3-point arc. He discovered his uncanny ability in the very same gym he stood on Saturday morning, or at Charlotte Christian, just 14 minutes up the road.
“I played countless games in this building (Bojangles’ Coliseum) growing up, high school, AAU type stuff,” the Warriors’ All-Star said. “It’s pretty awesome to be back here representing Charlotte the way I know how … That’s kind of what this weekend is about, a reminder of the journey, a celebration of where I’m at now, for my entire family and everybody that’s had a part in helping me get here.”
Since being drafted by Golden State seventh overall in 2009, the skinny kid with the fragile ankles but an unbeatable 3-point stroke has won three NBA titles, two MVPs (including the first unanimous selection), made six All-Star teams, taken home an NBA scoring title, won the 3-point contest in 2015, won two FIBA gold medals Just 10 years into his career, has surpassed all but two of the greatest 3-point shooters of all time in terms of made shots, with only Reggie Miller and Ray Allen remaining in front of him.
On Saturday night, he’ll get to put on a show in his hometown, with his brother by his side.
“Charlotte means everything to me,” said Curry. “Me and my brother always dreamed of being part of All-Star Weekend, doing 3-point shootouts … and for it to come back full-circle and to be here playing where my dad played for ten years, this will be a weekend we’ll remember for a very long time.