Hello all of you GetReligion readers who are totally into sports! I am sure, at this time of year, you are really getting into the NBA playoffs.
If you are, then that means you cannot believe what you are seeing whenever the mad gunner Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors takes the court. This young man is on fire.
Curry is also one of the most visible religious believers in basketball and that has in the past led to some interesting problems for mainstream sports reporters. For example, back in his March Madness days with tiny Davidson College, one Associated Press report noted:
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.
Now, the implication was that Curry — as a statement of confidence, if not outright ego — was saying that he could do whatever he wanted to do whenever he stepped onto a basketball court.
It was safe to say that the AP team did not recognize that this Christian kid was making a biblical reference that, as interpreted by most active Christians, could be seen as a statement of humility — precisely the opposite of the spin the AP put into that story. You see, there is every reason to think that Curry’s sneaker quotation referred to the New Testament, specifically to Philippians 4:13, which states:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Now, I bring this up once again because GetReligion has, in recent weeks, spotlighted a few — click here and then here, for starters — mainstream press references to scripture that, like that 2008 gaffe about Curry, missed the mark when it came to accuracy.
Thus, I wanted to note a recent ESPN essay by superstar scribe Rick Reilly in which he got the Curry-loves-scripture thing right. Just to set the tone, here is the opening of that piece during the earlier Warriors playoff series:
People say this human fishing pole, this Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, this waif who is torching the Denver Nuggets right now, is the most unstoppable, untoppable, unconscious shooter in the NBA since Pistol Pete Maravich.
Please, I say.
I saw Maravich in person. Nobody could shoot like Pistol. He could get his shot off in handcuffs. Scouts used to put his range down as “10 feet to hotel elevator.” He didn’t need space, teammates or a clean look. All he needed was the ball — and he only needed that for three seconds.
“Please,” yourself, they said. You need to see Curry in person.
So I went one better than that. I went to the Golden State Warriors’ practice gym and challenged him to a shooting contest.
The rules: Curry would shoot from half-court, while Reilly shot standard three-point shots. First guy to three buckets would win.
Read the article to find out what happened.
Near the end, Reilly gets into the whole matter of what makes this young man different. Thus, the story ends like this, including a quote from retired NBA great Dell Curry, the father of this particular rising superstar:
Speaking of selfless, how many 25-year-old NBA stars do you know would agree to come with you to sub-Saharan Africa this summer to hang anti-malaria nets? And bring his wife, Ayesha, a former TV actress? And not his agent?
“Refs and officials come up to me all the time,” says Dell, who’s now a TV analyst for the Charlotte Bobcats, “and they say, ‘Not only is your boy a great player, he’s a great person.’ I’m very proud of him.”
Stephen Curry has this habit of writing Bible verses on his shoes. With his upside, he should try 2 Corinthians: 13:11:
Aim for perfection.
This kid might just get it.
OK, that’s Reilly offering his own take on Curry, not the kid pinning a Bible verse on himself.
But that’s fair game.