Charlotte Hornets

How the Curry brothers’ scrappy rivalry will finally play out on national stage

Steph Curry says ‘win-win’ for parents as brother Seth awaits in Conference Finals

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry said the Western Conference Finals are a "win-win" for his parents, because either way he or his brother Seth will advance to the NBA Finals.
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Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry said the Western Conference Finals are a "win-win" for his parents, because either way he or his brother Seth will advance to the NBA Finals.

Years ago, Stephen and Seth Curry got into a scrap at a Charlotte Christian High School practice. The coaches turned to father Dell Curry with a “What now?” look.

Dell said not to sweat it, that they’d work it out. After all, brothers push each other.

Just not generally in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals. That’s where these two brothers raised in Charlotte — Stephen, the star of the Golden State Warriors and Seth, a reserve for the Portland Trail Blazers — will find themselves Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Oakland.

Stephen and Seth, 2 1/2 years apart in age, never played on opposing teams growing up. Other than a few random regular-season NBA games, this is the first time the two have really faced off with anything at stake. That’s an adjustment their parents, Dell and Sonya Curry.

“She gets nervous and anxious. I normally don’t,” said Dell, in a phone interview from Oakland on Monday. “But I got nervous when Portland won (Sunday afternoon in Denver). I thought, ‘This is about to get real!’ They’ve never really gone against each other.

“Somebody is going to lose, and somebody is going to the (NBA) Finals.”

When Dell said, “Never really gone against each other,” he meant with teammates and coaches and fans, and especially, referees. That’s the only part about this that is easier. When the two kids were growing up, mostly during Dell’s 16-season NBA career (primarily with the Hornets), there was constant competitive friction at the basket in the driveway.

“I’m glad I don’t have to be referee anymore,” Dell recalled. “They were both such tough-minded guys that we’d watch them for a while until they’d get into a shoving match. Then, Sonya or I would go ref them.”

Who's a better player Steph or Seth? Charlotte Christian head basketball coach talks about the Curry family and coaching the two basketball stars.

One easy, one hard

There is such a contrast to these brothers’ NBA journeys: Stephen was the seventh overall pick in 2009 out of Davidson. He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice and was central to three championship teams.

Seth originally went to Liberty before transferring to Duke. He went unselected in the 2013 draft, due in part to injury, and he had to work up through the G-League and 10-day NBA contracts before getting a multi-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

“He’s watched his brother at the pinnacle of the sport, and he had to do it a different way. I think that’s been good for him,” Dell said of Seth, mentioning the stress fracture that derailed his time with the Mavericks before he signed with the Trail Blazers.

Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and his brother, Seth Curry of the Portland Trail Blazers have a side wager to which will win or do best in the NBA's 3-point competition on Saturday, February 16, 2019. The stakes could be high for the loser.

“It was tough; he was penciled in as a starter (at guard) and then he missed a whole year in the NBA. Now he’s a pivotal role-player (in Portland): He doesn’t get a lot of shots, but he spaces the floor. I tell him he’s doing his job (by forcing defenders to stay with him along the 3-point line). He’s learned to be such a fighter; fighting through the injuries.”

Not that Stephen has had no challenges. He took over the second half in Houston last week to close out the playoff series against the Rockets, with fellow star Kevin Durant hurt. After dislocating a left finger, Steph had struggled with his shot, went scoreless in the first half, then scored 33 in the second half.

“The way he moves — the way he makes the defense work all the time — he was going to get his looks,” Dell said of the close-out game. “How he played that half, that’s what champions do. Those might have been the best 18 minutes of his career.”

Travel time

Dell is television color analyst with the Hornets. The local team missing the playoffs should have been time to get off the road. Quite the opposite. Because their sons were still playing, Dell and Sonya left Charlotte on April 11. Since then, Dell has been in Charlotte for eight hours (for a golf-tournament commitment) and Sonya has yet to return.

At least now they aren’t juggling two playoff series between the two sons. They flew to Oakland on Sunday night, then will head on to Portland, for games three and four.

They have Warriors and Blazers gear to wear, and have a system for who will wear gold-and-blue and who will wear red-and-black each game.

“It’ll be a coin flip; Steph heads, Seth tails. We want to show our support for both teams,” Dell said.

Just like these two brothers support each other.

“They constantly check in on each other; they root for each other, they watch each other’s games, they offer each other advice,” Dell said,

“Now they just have to block all that out, and play their best.”

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