Panthers top pick Christian McCaffrey 'can't wait to get to work'
They play different sports and stand at different stages of their career, with one man nine years older and much more accomplished.
But the more I think about it, the more I can’t shake the feeling that Christian McCaffrey and Stephen Curry are remarkably similar athletes with weirdly similar backgrounds. They are two peas in a pod in many respects. Here are 10 of them:
THE DAD WHO PLAYED IN THE LEAGUE: Dell Curry was a 16-year NBA veteran with one of the smoothest jump shots ever. Ed McCaffrey was a 13-year NFL veteran wide receiver. They later would both become broadcasters for the team they are primarily associated with – Curry for the Charlotte Hornets, McCaffrey for the Denver Broncos.
THE BROTHER WHO PLAYED AT DUKE: Steph Curry’s brother Seth played basketball as a shooting guard at Duke and, although he has certainly been overshadowed by his big brother’s accomplishments, is a member of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Christian McCaffrey’s brother Max played football as a wide receiver at Duke and, although he has certainly been overshadowed by his little brother’s accomplishments, is a member of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
THE MOTHER WHO WAS A COLLEGE ATHLETE: Sonya Curry was a volleyball player at Virginia Tech. Lisa McCaffrey was a soccer player at Stanford.
THE ‘POINT TO THE SKY’ GESTURE AFTER BIG PLAYS: After a 3-pointer, Steph Curry taps his chest and points to the sky – a gesture he says is meant to show his love for God. After a touchdown, Christian McCaffrey says this is his usual celebration: “I beat my chest five times and I point up to God.”
THE SIZE QUESTION: Both men are undersized compared to some of the giants that play their game. Curry is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, and McCaffrey is 5-11 and 202. In Curry’s case, he was much smaller when he was playing at Charlotte Christian and was deemed too frail by most coaches to play big-time Division I basketball. Even his parents’ alma mater, Virginia Tech, wanted him to walk on as a freshman.
In McCaffrey’s case, he was much more highly recruited and did attend his parents’ alma mater of Stanford on scholarship.
THE ‘SMART’ COLLEGE CHOICE: Curry and McCaffrey both ended up at schools with rigorous academics – Curry at Davidson and McCaffrey at Stanford.
THE BREAKOUT SOPHOMORE SEASON: In the case of both men, their best collegiate season came as a sophomore. McCaffrey set an NCAA record in 2015 with 3,864 all-purpose yards as he starred at Stanford as a running back, kick returner and occasional receiver. Curry led Davidson to an Elite Eight berth in the NCAA tournament in 2008, dominating March Madness for the better part of two weeks.
THE OVERALL PICK IN THE DRAFT: Both players would declare for their respective drafts one year early, skipping what would have been their senior collegiate season. Curry was picked No. 7 overall in 2009 by Golden State. McCaffrey was picked No. 8 overall in 2017 by Carolina.
THE TRIP CROSS-COUNTRY TO PLAY PRO BALL: Each man had to travel to the opposite coast because of the draft, with Curry going from North Carolina to California and McCaffrey from California to North Carolina.
THE TRIP TO SUPER BOWL 50: Both men attended Super Bowl 50 in February 2016. Curry, an enormous Panthers fan, banged the “Keep Pounding” drum before the game and loudly cheered for Carolina. McCaffrey kept a quieter public profile but was there cheering for his father’s old team, the Broncos.
AND… THE BIG DIFFERENCES: Of course, the 29-year-old Curry started his own NBA career in 2009, so he’s got quite a head start on McCaffrey. Curry has been a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, has won an NBA championship and nearly won another, has set practically every NBA 3-point record worth setting and is a shoo-in for basketball’s hall of fame one day.
McCaffrey, who is 20 , will join some of his new Panthers teammates for a rookie minicamp in Charlotte starting Friday.