OAKLAND — For the first time in NBA history, the Finals will be played in Toronto after the Raptors won the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in their franchise’s history on Saturday.
But for Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, the largest city in Canada means more than just the latest stop on his way to a potential fourth NBA title.
After living in Toronto for a year and a half during his childhood, Curry will have a homecoming of sorts as the Warriors will touch down in Canada on Tuesday, two days ahead of Game 1, set to be played on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena.
“A lot of familiarity with the city,” Curry said after practice on Monday afternoon. “It’s always special going back up there and I don’t think it’s sunk that this is for the Finals.”
As the son of former NBA journeyman, Dell Curry, Stephen has gotten to know the transient lifestyle of professional basketball.
After being born in Akron, Ohio — in the same hospital as former Cleveland Cavalier and current Lakers forward LeBron James — the eldest Curry son lived in Charlotte, NC, for the majority of his childhood.
For the final three years of his father’s career, however, which were spent playing for the Raptors (1999-2002), Curry found himself making trips up north to watch his dad play.
“Spent sixth through eighth grade off and on up there,” Curry said. “Culture was amazing. It was cold, obviously. We spent most of the winter months up there. People were amazing — so diverse. Good energy.”
In fact, Curry says some of the ushers, concession stand workers and security guards that worked games while he and his younger brother Seth, “were running around causing trouble” are still there, making his return that much more unique.
But if none of those people will be rooting for Curry, there is one Canadian that will be — his middle school basketball coach.
“I’m still in touch with my middle school coach, James Lackey,” Curry said. “He still supports me to this day.”
For Curry, though, nothing that’s in Toronto compares to it’s candy. Maynards, which makes an array of gummy candies, is the pinnacle of sweet tooth satisfaction for Curry, who has been known to keep a family-sized bag of Sour Patch Kids above his locker.
“Shout out to them. I have no skin in the game, I just love their stuff,” Curry said. “Every time I go back, I stash up.”
According to the book “Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry,” Curry’s wife, Ayesha, who was born in Toronto, used to bring him back bags of Fuzzy Peach candies, which were coated in sour sugar.
Just three days away from tip off for his fifth-consecutive NBA Finals, Curry took the time to appreciate the magnitude of the moment, especially for Toronto — a city that holds a special place in his heart.
After watching Vince Carter play alongside his dad in what Shaun Livingston called one of the “greatest series” ever, to now watching the city erupt for their first NBA Finals bid, the moment is not lost on Curry.
“You can tell how much it meant to them. The city was going crazy,” Curry said. “It looked like they had won the championship already the way that they were celebrating. And obviously it’s their first time there so the fans really got into it. It looked like a crazy atmosphere.”
Despite all of the sentimental value, Curry knows that it’s time to flip the switch and shut off his emotions when the time comes to actually play basketball. Looking for his third straight title and fourth in five years, Curry understands what exactly is at stake.
“When it gets to the time on the floor, it’s obviously business as usual,” he said. “That’s the enemy.”