Guess it wasn’t enough that Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, decided through their “Eat. Learn. Play.” foundation to assist in providing 1 million meals to Oakland students for at least the next three weeks, while schools are closed due to the coronavirus crisis.
It wasn’t enough that Curry was a strong voice in the Warriors’ decision to create a $1 million fund to lend a financial hand to more than 1,000 Chase Center hourly employees whose jobs are on pause as the building sits empty.
OK, Steph. You’ve done your part. Your efforts are appreciated. You can stop now. Enjoy the weekend at home with your family.
Oh, but he didn’t stop. He did not rest on Sunday.
Curry joined more than 400 American CEOs in signing an open letter challenging all business executives of similar authority and influence to take dramatic measures to combat COVID-19.
The letter is a pledge to alter how we work, such as allowing all employees to work from home “whenever possible,” do more to support first responders and healthcare workers, request employees to avoid voluntary public events of any size and commit time to supporting state and local communities. Furthermore, employees, friends and family are “encouraged” to practice social distancing by refraining from visiting bars, restaurants and gyms while simultaneously urging employees, if able, to buy gift cards from local businesses.
As of early Monday morning, with the signature count approaching 500, Curry was the only athlete on the list.
Golden State Warriors
Curry’s response to this crisis is keeping with the vow he made nearly three years ago upon signing a max contract worth $201 million over five seasons. After winning consecutive MVP awards while on a four-year contract with $44 million, he was sitting in a humid Walnut Creek gym speaking of making major contributions to sports and society in general.
“I don't want to get too deep into it but for the last couple years (I’ve been) trying to figure out how I can make the most impact off the court on a consistent and impactful basis,” he said.
“Going forward and keying in on the Bay Area specifically to hopefully leave a lasting impact for all the good that has happened in my life and my family here since I've been here the last eight years. Obviously, over the next five to really impact the community for the better and use my platform, not only just dollars but my platform and connections and ideas to make that happen.
“The contract puts more of a responsibility (on me) to make that happen and I'm obviously aware of that. And I have a great team around me that's going to help me do that."
There never was a question of whether Curry meant what he said. He has a history of speaking lofty goals into existence, most notably in 2009, seven games into his NBA career. The Warriors were 2-5, with four of the five losses by double digits, when he took to Twitter promising fans that “We will figure this thing out . . . If it’s the last thing we do, we will figure it out.”
I’ve attended nearly a dozen events in the past few years where Curry lent himself to the community in a variety of ways. Learning centers. Basketball-court refurbishments. Hydration promotions. Food and toiletry giveaways. Shoe giveaways.
And, no, we didn’t forget Steph’s trick last summer, when he resurrected the long-dormant golf program at historically black Howard University by funding it – in an amount reluctantly described as “seven figures” – for six seasons, beginning with the 2020-21 academic year.
Didn’t have to.
Did it anyway.
Most athletes donate to worthy causes, but Curry finds a way to maintain elite status in this category – while still signing autographs before games, home and away.
Though some Warriors executives still worry Steph stretches himself a bit too thin, he still manages to take to the court and remind observers that he conceivably has done more to revolutionize the game of basketball than any player, ever.
And yet, some keyboard gangsters still can’t resist throwing shade at Curry. To suggest he didn’t deserve back-to-back MVP awards. To point out that he doesn’t have a Finals MVP award. To imply that he doesn’t defend; OK, there are times when he, um, preserves himself.
No doubt some of the silly salt is sprinkled upon Curry because he didn’t grow up in the struggle, as conventionally defined. Never worried about going hungry or having decent shoes. Never had to dodge gangs on the way to and from school. Never had to deal with the post-traumatic stress that comes with hearing gunshots and sirens on the regular.
Except Curry did struggle. He fought for acceptance and respect. He wasn’t a blue-chip, can’t-miss, five-star, oh-my-god-wait-until-he-gets-to-the-league kid. The struggle is, at bottom, about proving one’s worth.
Curry still, somewhere in his psyche, fights that fight.
So, it seems anyone, no matter their favorite team or their favorite player, willing peep Curry’s full résumé – basketball and beyond – can only come away impressed.