This post might be a bit premature...
After all, Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors still have a road ahead of them - against the Cleveland Cavaliers - to the NBA Championship. And if it goes anything like their last run, Curry and his cohorts will be fighting until the very end.
And yet, I thought I'd share today. But first - a few words from Sports Illustrated after Monday night's game:
"[Curry had] just scored 36 points. He'd finished off an unlikely 3-1 series comeback. And he'd reminded those who doubted him -- whether in the media or chuckling at a podium -- that he remains the most illogical, impossible basketball player on the planet, a two-time MVP whose toughness continues to be second-guessed, as Steve Kerr said, only, 'because he looks like he's 12 years old.'" **Steph Curry has captured the hearts of NBA enthusiasts and people like me -- people who watch a game here or there. And when we do watch, don't get fired up until the fourth quarter. Okay so... I admitted it, and got that out of the way.
So although I wouldn't include myself in the NBA enthusiast camp, I am very much a people enthusiast. I love interesting people that rise above the fray. People that make the world different -- and just a bit better.
Steph is one of those people, and from my vantage point, here's why...
1. He's open about his faith, but not preachy
Steph doesn't shy away from speaking about his faith in Jesus Christ, but his delivery is seamless, it seems. In his MVP speech he shared, "People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that's because of my Lord and Savior." This brother makes his faith known, but he does so in a way that's natural, refreshing and appealing. In a way that others might actually find attractive.
When I think of all the up-and-coming athletes, like my 15-year-old son Christian, I'm grateful for ballers like Steph - unashamedly Christian and a beast on the court.
2. He brings so much authenticity onto the court and into the world
Steph's popularity reminds me of another young African American man who became a game-changer for his particular sport. Tiger Woods drew us regular folks into golf like never before. His relationship with his father-trainer, his diverse background, his youth... He was so -- REAL.
Steph has a similar appeal. He's the boy-next-door or the cousin you can't wait to hang out with during the holidays. He's so -- REAL. His funny facial expressions, gestures and boyish grin throw so much humanity into the game.
And if he wasn't authentic enough on his own, what about that interview he did with his cute-as-pie daughter in his lap, telling her Daddy to "Shhhh..." Oh my word... Isn't she just the cutest? That little precious, sassy baby girl reminded us that these "larger-than-life" athletes (or musicians or movie stars) might be wealthy and famous, but at the core, they're all regular folk like us.
3. His athletic ability defies logic
Now if you're an NBA enthusiast, it's probably killing you that I made this my third point. But an-ty-way... When I started following Steph's career, I loved hearing about the countless naysayers he'd defied over the years. The college coaches and program directors that overlooked him for recruitments and scholarships. The critics that said he would never play professional ball. The haters that claimed that at 6' 3", he was way too short to be taken seriously.
And who, I ask, is laughing now?
Steph's rise to fame reminds me of a popular Bible story we've all heard a bunch of times. It's the story of a young Hebrew boy who brought down a 9-foot giant named Goliath. A boy who's father had sent him to deliver lunch to his older brothers while they fought the Philistine army. A boy who's victory against that giant -- via a rock and slingshot -- defied all logic.
Yep... Steph reminds me of David -- long before he was a Hebrew King. When he was just a boy and the most unlikely of heroes.
And don't we all love unlikely heroes?
I sure do.
** This quote is an excerpt from writer Chris Ballard's "The Improbable Magic of Steph Curry Leaves Us Speechless Again".