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Why I admire and challenge Stephen Curry

How an interview on a radio show about poetry became a discussion of GSoM, the Golden State Warriors’ star player, and some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Joel Tesch

I’m a Stephen Curry fan.

But I won’t claim to be his #1 fan or even a diehard fan because to do so would be a slap in the face to the diehard Dubys who view this guy and the team in holy-figure light.

The things I like about Steph Curry on the court are the same things everyone likes and are amazed by: underdog-turned-basketball behemoth, otherworldly shooting abilities (as in, instead of shooting from the hallway during pre-game warmup, he might want to challenge himself by aiming for a ring on Saturn), and crafty, clever ball-handling abilities (I know, I know – those behind-the-back turnovers. Let’s just pretend those never happened).

The things I like about Curry off the court are the same things everyone likes and are amazed by: family man with beautiful wife and precocious and adorable daughters, outspoken Christian who does not hide his faith and values in a society that often shies away from discussions of religion, and not only a willingness but a desire to set an example for others.

Especially in sports, being visible means being hoisted into a role-model position. Many shirk this, perhaps feeling that it’s not their responsibility to be a role model for others, especially if it isn’t outlined in a league or endorsement contract. But Curry views being a role model as an opportunity … a duty, even … and accepts the position with gratitude.

Dub Nation

Curry and I come from similar backgrounds. We both were raised in good homes in the Carolinas by parents who are still married and we both lived abroad as children (him in Toronto and me in Vicenza, Italy). As adults, we each call California home – him in the Bay Area and me in SoCal. But the similarities pretty much end there. I have spent a lot of time contemplating the reasons for this – and they are many. But, in some ways, I wish I could be more like him than me because life certainly would be easier ...

So, when I wrote this, it was not because I dislike Stephen Curry. The fact is, I admire the guy and I am inspired by his work ethic and drive (values I take seriously in my own life and careers). But even of people we like and admire, there has to be room to ask questions and foster discussion – especially on difficult subjects.

We live in a world of extremes: black or white, either/or, good or bad, right or wrong – as if nothing exists in the middle. But the middle is usually where truth can be found and, oftentimes, there are multiple truths coexisting simultaneously. So when the NBA moved the All-Star Game from Charlotte – Curry’s hometown, the state where I was born, a city in which I’d lived in the past – I embraced the opportunity to explore the various layers of the issue in writing.

Last week, I walked into a radio interview with KKUP’s “Out of Our Minds” host, Rachelle Escamilla, to discuss literary things – my press, my writing, etc. – and ended up speaking at length about Golden State of Mind, my reasons for writing about Stephen Curry and Colin Kaepernick, the removal of the All-Star Game from Charlotte, and North Carolina’s HB2 law.

It was a rare honor to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time, and I am forever thankful to Ms. Escamilla for the opportunity.

The interview airs tonight and it can be streamed on the KKUP website:

A recording will be made available on podcast and SoundCloud later in the week.