It was hard for us not to ask Stephen Curry to pose back-to-back and see if maybe we had a fraction of an inch on him. We’re 6-3, but Steph seemed slightly shorter, even though his ropey arms, made taut with coiled muscles, made our reluctance to work out more obvious as our morning with him wore on. Perhaps that’s also why he was so easy to talk with, even after he’d gone through the paces a few times before chatting with Dime during a DEGREE Men event earlier this week.
The 26-year-old son of former NBA sharpshooter, Dell Curry, is married and has a two-year-old daughter you can tell he adores just from the beaming smile that flits across his countenance any time he mentioned her to us. Despite being a family man, Steph consistently gets asked to show ID during the offseason (he doesn’t really drink during the season) even as he’s become one of the more popular players in the NBA and last year was voted in as a starter in his first — of many, likely to follow — all-star appearances.
Curry’s Warriors finished last season as a six seed in a brutally competitive Western Conference, and pushed Chris Paul‘s Los Angeles Clippers to the brink in the first round before losing a hotly contested Game 7 on the road at Staples Center. Despite all the success and Curry’s very public support for him, coach Mark Jackson was let go and a former player with no head coaching experience, Steve Kerr, was signed to a five-year, $25 million deal as their new coach in the offseason.
We talked with Steph about the coaching chance, his busy summer with USA Basketball, the affect of Paul George‘s injury on the mindset of the men’s national team and former Dubs assistant coach Brian Scalabrine‘s comments about his defense and his former coach.
[RELATED: Stephen Curry tries to teach us to shoot]
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Dime: When do you find time with your family and time to rest and recover for next season? With the playoffs, then Team USA, you don’t really get much time off before training camp opens in October.
Stephen Curry: I got a good chunk of time after the season’s over with and the playoffs. It was nice. We live in the Bay area full-time now. You know it hasn’t been that bad. Obviously we did travel a lot during the summer, there’s a lot going on. Family gets to travel with me. I got a two-year-old daughter and I get to spend time with her. Team USA stuff, that’s the biggest commitment, obviously, going overseas and being so close to training camp when we get back, but it’s all fun stuff.
Dime: So you did have a couple weeks when the season ended?
SC: Oh yeah, I took a little vacation, played a little golf, spent time with the family. I’ll get one more vacation in before training camp and then we’re ready to go.
Dime: Talking about this summer, there have been some changes, most notably at coach. Don’t want to get into the Mark Jackson-Steve Kerr stuff, but your former assistant coach, Brian Scalabrine, went on a radio show and talked about you and your defense. He said you wanted to match up against the best opposing guard, but Mark Jackson wanted to preserve your energy for the offensive end. Looking at film, you took on Tony Parker and obviously would switch onto the lead guard sometimes. Going into next season, is that something you’re going to go to Steve, and say, ‘I want that challenge. I want that lead guy’?
SC: One of the things, he [Mark Jackson] made the decision some games to put Klay [Thompson] on the main ball-handler because Klay is a great defender, obviously. He’s long and athletic and can hound quicker guys. I definitely want that challenge and I expect that challenge coming into next season.
Dime: Has that possible change in defensive assignment affected your workout regiment at all?
SC: No. I always prepare for that. And regardless this is the NBA, so they say you put me on the weakest guy and he’s still in the NBA for a reason, so it’s not like I can just take night’s off. I might not have to chase Chris Paul off a hundred pick-and-rolls, but you still gotta hold your own and play team defense and figure out where you can impact a game. But I go into every game expecting — there’s not a game where I don’t guard the opponent’s point guard or whoever their best guard is at some point during games, you always — you can’t take breaks is all, you know. I might not have that, last year I didn’t have that responsibility to start most games, but you have it at some point.
Dime: Have you been touch with Steve at all about how you’re going to play high pick-and-rolls and what the defensive schemes will be next year?
SC: No, but I don’t expect it [defense] to change significantly next year since we were a top-5 defensive team last year. He studied and watched our games and knows our strengths and weaknesses. I feel like obviously being as detailed as possible with our coverages, whatever they are — I don’t think they’ll change much we were pretty successful at it. Offensively it might be a different story, but defensively we were solid. When our lineup’s healthy, we’re pretty darn good.
Dime: How are you guys playing it for Coach K on Team USA. Are you switching stuff up?
SC: We switch a lot one-through-four—
Dime: —How are you guys handling, I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot, but has the Paul George injury affected the ways you go into games, like the mentality?
SC: Nah. That was the last day of training camp, and it was the scrimmage where it happened. We were going to take that week off anyway. And it kind of shook the guys after competing with the guy for the week.
Dime: Did you know, right away [that he broke it so severely]?
SC: I saw the play happen. I didn’t know right away he broke it, but I saw him land. It’s one of those things where you look, and ‘wait a minute, something’s not right.’ Immediately it registers like that, like ‘oh God.’ It shook most guys up, but I think Coach K handled it the best way he could. When we get back to Chicago tomorrow and get ready to play Brazil and get some exhibition games going, I think we’ll be fine, just — you know any time you play basketball there’s a risk you can get hurt. That was such freak deal that, you can’t — we gotta try our best not to have it in our minds when we play.
Dime: I talked with you before, and I thought it was hysterical you got ID’d all the time with that baby face. I also have that problem. Does it still happen to you a lot? Has it happened since the season ended, or — you’re pretty famous now, but has it happened recently?
SC: It happened at California Pizza Kitchen in the Bay Area like 15 minutes from my house. We went, I tried to get a drink after the season, that’s exactly what happened. Me and my wife went to dinner, and we didn’t have our daughter with us, and she was with the babysitter. So I ordered a beer, and I didn’t have my ID with me, ‘cause I left it in the car and I thought she’d recognize me. So the waitress asks, and I was like, ‘uh, is your manager here,’ and I took my chances with him knowing who I was, and…he knew. But she basically — yeah — she wouldn’t give me the benefit of the doubt, knowing that I didn’t look like I was over 21 and not knowing who I was.
Dime: Did she apologize at all after the manager came over?
SC: Not really. I don’t think she knew basketball at all, so I don’t think it registered.
Dime: Her manager was probably like, ‘good, so she’s not serving anyone under 21.’
SC: [Laughs] Exactly, ‘we’re doing our job.’
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