Dell Curry is a gracious man who was a graceful player for the Charlotte Hornets. Now Dell is a gifted television analyst on the Hornets’ TV crew. But his son Steph forced Dad into numerous awkward silences Wednesday night as Golden State torched Charlotte 126-111.
Steph Curry scored 39 points for the Warriors, making 11 3-pointers without playing a single second of the fourth quarter. It was an extraordinary performance in Oakland, Calif.
I watched all 11 of those 3-point swishes on DVR Thursday morning – 10:30 p.m. tipoffs being too late for me – and here’s what Dell said in the immediate aftermath following 10 of them:
Steph shut his father up.
‘Can we talk about his brother?’
Do you know how hard that must be? Has your child ever done something good on a sports court or field, or won a spelling bee or a science fair? Didn’t you scream in happiness?
Yet Dell said nothing directly about his son right after all but one of those 3s – not on the two guarded 30-footers and not the time when Curry’s crossover dribble made Marvin Williams fall to the ground. Not a word about Steph.
If it had been me, of course, I would have simply been nudging my broadcast partners and gasping things like “Did you see that? Oh my God! My son is the best shooter in the history of basketball!” But Dell has had a little more practice at this watching thing over the years. He loves Steph and is proud of him, but he has a humility that he passed down to all his children.
“It’s always cool to see my Dad on the sidelines,” Steph told reporters later Wednesday night. “I get a little juice from that.... We’re all in the family business.”
Steph also joked that because he could see his father at courtside but not hear him that “I’m getting the best of both worlds.”
It wasn’t like Steph was not getting his due on the Hornets telecast. Stephanie Ready, the Hornets’ other TV analyst, heaped effusive praise on Steph as the two-time NBA MVP who grew up in Charlotte showed all he could do. So did play-by-play man Eric Collins. This was obviously the plan, and the overall Fox Sports Southeast telecast was high quality as usual.
But when Steph did something else amazing, Dell would mostly just sit there. He occasionally offered a general comment like, “the Warriors sure are shooting well” or, in one case: “Can we talk about his brother Seth a little bit? He’s shooting a higher percentage from 3-point range than (Steph).”
Or, most hilariously after Curry dropped Williams while setting up for one 3 that made the home crowd levitate the building, Dell started his next sentence with: “Marvin did a good job. ...”
Dell’s 40-foot bank shot
It was comical, really, and also touching. Dell tries so hard to stay neutral on Steph that he sometimes overdoes it – he never uses Steph’s first name and rarely his last one either, usually just calling Steph “he” or “him.”
Dell has called games featuring Steph before, of course, but this was the first time this season. He didn’t broadcast the Hornets-Warriors game a week ago in Charlotte because it was an ESPN game, so Dell just sat in the stands with his family as Steph completed an extraordinary 48 hours in the Queen City.
If you remember, Dell was pretty stoic during Steph’s magical run at Davidson in 2008, too – it was Steph’s mom Sonya who was always jumping up and down as the TV cameras honed in.
Because Seth Curry now plays for the Dallas Mavericks (and had a 24-point, 10-rebound game recently), Dell Curry could have called four games featuring his sons this year for the Hornets’ TV broadcasts. But Dell avoided the first three – besides that ESPN game Jan. 25th, Seth was hurt for both Charlotte-Dallas games. But the father couldn’t avoid No. 4.
Now Dell was obviously animated about with one thing Wednesday night: The 40-foot bank shot he hit before the game while wearing a suit and tie.
Steph threw his father a bounce pass during warmups when Dell wasn’t looking. Dell fumbled the ball for a second, then grabbed it, hesitated to make sure Steph was watching and then banked it off the glass and directly into the hoop. It was awesome.
“I’m the originator!” Dell yelled to his broadcast partners after the highlight of that shot played for the first time. And Fox Sports Southeast ran it a lot, because the Hornets had few actual highlights on the court – they were down 29-9 to the Warriors in the first quarter and never close after that.
That one time
The one time Dell did comment immediately after a successful Steph Curry 3-pointer Wednesday he offered great insight. It came on the very first shot of the game, when Steph passed the ball away, got it back later in the possession and drilled a trey.
Said Dell after that first ball swished, perhaps sensing a big night coming up for his son: “That’s something that didn’t happen a lot earlier in the year with the Warriors – he’d give the basketball up and sometimes wouldn’t get it back. They made a conscious effort to move the basketball to try to get him going.”
Interesting, right? I didn’t know that. I would have liked to have known more things exactly like that during the game – how Steph and Kevin Durant are handling things and so on.
But Dell is studiously more neutral with Steph than several fathers in the same situation have been over the years: NASCAR’s Ned Jarrett talking about his son Dale or Darrell Waltrip talking about his brother Michael come to mind.
I guess that’s a good thing, but it sure did make for a quiet night for Father Curry.
First, Dell Curry showed who was the originator of the Curry family shooting touch with that banked 40-footer.
But then Dell quieted down, and Steph showed us all who the master is now.