Sneaker theology? Or ego?

CurryIf you care at all about college hoops, then you are all over the Davidson story.

Which makes all the more interesting the opening of a recent Associated Press report by Nancy Armour about the omnipresent baby-faced gunner who is leading that team in its quest for the glass slipper. (Click here for one video sample of what Curry is up to.)

On the red trim at the bottom of his shoes, Stephen Curry has written in black marker, “I can do all things.”

Yes, yes he can.

And because of him, Davidson is marching on.

Curry has, of course, scored 103 points in Davidson’s three NCAA tournament games, so he has every reason to be feeling good about his abilities at the moment.

Which raises the question that the AP apparently didn’t think to ask: Is this “I can do all things” statement a sign of ego or humility?

You see, Curry comes from a very strong Christian home and graduated from Charlotte Christian School. In fact, his brother Seth — another star at Charlotte Christian — is headed to yet another small religious college in the Southeast. That would be Liberty University (often known as Jerry Falwell U).

So it is safe to say that this phrase on the bottom of Stephen Curry’s sneaker is a reference to a verse in the New Testament, Philippians 4:13, which states:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So the question that some readers are asking is this: Who edited out the second half of the quote? If Curry shortened the verse, which seems likely, it is safe to say that he knows the rest of the verse and had a reason for writing this phrase on his, well, sole. Or maybe he did find a way to write the whole verse. We don’t know.

We also do notknow if the reporter realized that this was a statement of faith, not ego. The question, of course, is whether the reporter bothered to ask: “Why did you write those words on the bottom of your shoe?”

It seems like a rather basic question, if you are going to make this the lede of the story.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Mike Hickerson

    According to an athletic friend of mine, this is a common verse posted in gyms. This was the one and only Bible verse known by this friend, who was a martial arts practitioner from an Indian Jain family, and who saw Phil 4:13 repeatedly at dojos and martial arts meets. If this verse was as common as my friend claimed, I would think that a sports reporter would at least have a passing acquaintance with it. (Admittedly, my friend, though not a Christian, grew up in the Bible Belt, where it’s common to see Bible verse quoted or posted in non-religious settings.)

  • Pastor K

    This AP report was even inadvertently framed to return to that lede in the end and wrap it up with an answer to your question:

    And a minute later, he scored on a sweet inside reverse, drawing a foul and the admiration of everybody in the arena, including James. The Cleveland Cavaliers star had praised Curry earlier this week and, on the eve of a game against the Detroit Pistons, decided to get a better look.

    Curry didn’t disappoint him. Or anybody else.

    That “anybody else” is a perfect setup for a Philippians 4:13 reference and explanation. And it wouldn’t even have interfered with the overall storyline of an amazing player doing amazing things for this year’s “Cinderalla” team.


  • FW Ken

    The puts me in mind of the University of Texas at Austin. Over the entrance of the Main Building/Tower, one reads: The Truth Will Set you Free. You have to wonder how many of the people reading that (if they even notice it anymore) know that the Person who said it claimed to BE the “Truth”. Context, context, context.

  • Alice C. Linsley

    Context, critical thinking and some knowledge of things religious are always in aid of journalism.

  • Chris Bolinger

    From a story on the ESPN Web site:

    But as for the writing on his shoes, it’s certainly not the product of a me-first mentality or an overblown ego lurking beneath a shell of false modesty. There just wasn’t enough room on the sole to finish the quote.

    “Oh, that,” Curry said. “It’s Philippians 4:13. ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’ It’s always been one of my favorite Bible verses. … I realize that what I do on the floor isn’t a measure of my own strength. Having that there keeps me focused on the game, a constant reminder of who I’m playing for.”

    Apparently, all that you have to do is ask, which seems too much for Armour.

  • Jimmy Mac

    Have we forgotten all of those double-time signs of the cross prior to basketball free throws? And what about “Hail Mary” football passes?

    And I won’t even get into burying St. Joseph statues to sell one’s house quickly.