It’s summer basketball camp time at Davidson, and 240 youngsters are hearing about Stephen Curry from a coach who knows him well.
The latest chapter in Curry’s wondrous story was written Tuesday, when the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97, winning the NBA Finals in six games. It completed an epic season for Curry, a former Charlotte Christian and Davidson star who coupled the title with the league’s most valuable player award.
“The kids at camp are getting the same story about Steph, but now there’s a championship to go along with it,” Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said Wednesday. “About how when he was a skinny and scrawny 10-year-old, (father and former NBA player) Dell worked and worked with him to improve his jump shot. About how he came to Davidson with a chip on his shoulder after not being respected by high-major (college) programs. How he fought and fought to become a great college player.
“Then he gets to the NBA and the doubters are still around. And see how he responded to that.”
At the camp, McKillop tells the young basketball players to learn from Curry – not necessarily from his basketball skills, but from his “heart of a lion” and his ability to “get back up when he gets knocked down.” The campers film a brief video congratulating Curry and the Warriors that is quickly posted on the progam’s Twitter account.
McKillop said the connection between Curry and Davidson was palpable during the Finals.
“We felt like we were an intimate part of it,” McKillop said. “There were so many things that occurred during the series that were like a replay of what we experienced when he was here on campus. Whether it was a big shot, or a mannerism, or a facial expression. We saw him do all those things in a Davidson uniform, and that makes it special for us.”
Davidson athletics director Jim Murphy said it’s likely the school will do something to honor Curry but will wait to decide on when and what that might be.
McKillop watched the Finals from a variety of perches. He attended Game 2 in Oakland, Calif., on June 7, taking a 7:30 a.m. flight from Charlotte to the West Coast and returning on a red-eye that same night.
He watched Game 3 two days later at a USA Basketball meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., along with fellow coaches Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Archie Miller of Dayton, Matt Painter of Purdue, Sean Miller of Arizona and Ed Cooley of Providence.
“Being able to see those guys’ affection for Steph, from an unbiased viewpoint, was special,” said McKillop, who watched Tuesday’s deciding Game 6 with campers and his coaching staff.
McKillop didn’t have much contact with Curry during the Finals. But included in one text to Curry were the words: “Trust, commitment and care” – Davidson basketball’s code of honor.
“He has done so many things, in his life and his career, that you pinch yourself,” McKillop said.
▪ The digital network 120 Sports polled 1,400 18- to 34-year-olds, asking them who their favorite athlete was. Curry ranked No. 1 (for all sports, not just the NBA). He also was the leading vote-getter in February in fan balloting for All-Star Game starters, topping LeBron James by more than 40,000 votes.
▪ Curry eliminated every other member of this season’s All-NBA first team from the playoffs: New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Houston’s James Harden and Cleveland’s James.
▪ Sounds like Curry and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala have a round of golf to play. Curry tweeted: “We going to Augusta” - MVP @andre
▪ Three former Davidson teammates of Curry’s – Jason Richards, Thomas Sander and Bryant Barr – were at the championship-clinching game Tuesday.