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Celebrating release of Marcus Thompson’s new book “Golden” with 10 fan stories about Stephen Curry

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Your stories were truly amazing. This giveaway competition was a blast.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we announced a competition. We asked a simple question: “Did you ever in a million years think Stephen Curry would be this good? And if so, when did you first start to suspect it could happen?”

The ten top vote getters (recommendations in the comment section) would win a copy of Marcus Thompson II’s new book, “Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry.” The responses were amazing. We had 97 comments on the post! It was a truly special experience, and I am very glad to announce our 10 winners!

[Click on each contestant’s name to read their entry!]

ender2148 - 18 votes

bradyk2 - 16 votes

xenotoca - 14 votes

Reuben Poling - 13 votes

dinohealth - 12 votes

OhCoolStoryBruh - 11 votes

Rmoriarty - 11 votes

Efrain Duarte - 11 votes

VallejoDubzFan - 11 votes

achiappanza - 10 votes

Voting was amazing. You guys really embraced this challenge and pushed each other to tell the best stories out there. To that end, I am reposting the top vote getting comment, from ender2148. All of the stories struck a chord, but this one obviously really got to people. Enjoy, and thanks again for such a successful competition!

We will be reaching out individually to all the winners to tell you how to claim your free copy of Marcus Thompson II’s new book.

Cheers!


The answer to the first question: hell yes. The second answer for me, I almost guarantee, goes further back than before anybody else on this site even knew who he was.

"Did you ever in a million years think Stephen Curry would be this good? And if so, when did you first start to suspect it could happen?"

I became a Warriors fan in 2009 the moment Steph was drafted. But I was a fan of his long before that, when he was my classmate and freshman hallmate at Davidson.

Of course, I had watched him at countless home games, and traveled to big time away games (UNC and Duke, our Bracketbusters matchup against Winthrop). I watched him run countless UCLA curls pindown screens and backdoor screens to utterly destroy the likes of Elon, Appalachian State, College of Charleston and the rest of the Southern Conference. No one knew for sure though if he was going to be able to do that against better competition though, so I can say I knew he had arrived in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

It’s hard, and yet it isn’t, to believe the same guy I knew in college is now the 2-time MVP of the NBA and one of the best athletes on the planet. I wasn’t close with Steph but I hung out with him a few times, watching the Rocky movies (I through IV on in one day), watching him and his best friend/teammate/roommate Bryant tear up Tiger Woods PGA Tour, studying Calc II together, or going to Birkdale Mall in Huntersville, not far away from Davidson’s campus. We loved going to basketball games at Belk Arena to cheer him and the rest of the freshman class on, and boy did we have plenty to cheer about. I’m pretty sure we only lost one home game in the SoCon that year, and the further we got in the season we knew there was something to this Steph Curry guy. Night after night, game after game he would put up ridiculous scoring totals and insane shots that would somehow go in. The scare we gave Maryland in the NCAA tournament back in 2007 made us feel good, albeit like every other mid-major school that came oh so close to upsetting one of the big dogs in college sports. But that’s how it’s supposed to end every year: the mid-majors have their feel good stories but ultimately the big dogs triumph.

The script was a little different for the 2008 season.

We were returning all of our scholarship players and had scheduled a murderer’s row of UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, and NC State to open the season. I can remember watching both the Duke and UNC game in person at the Charlotte Bobcats’ arena watching us go toe to toe with some of the legendary college programs – and we were hanging with the big boys! I had particular interest in the UCLA game because I had grown up a fan of both the football and basketball program. I pulled Steph aside the night before they left for Anaheim (where the Wooden Classic was) to beat UCLA for me because, even though I grew up a Bruin, I was a Wildcat first and had faith that he and the rest of the team could get it done. I sent an email to Davidson’s coach, imploring him the same way I implored Steph to get the job done. Unfortunately, we lost to that stacked UCLA squad and those other games early in the season and started conference play 4-6. We weren’t sure what was going to happen or how they would respond.

When we finally got to SoCon play, we went buckwild. Every home game was a party as we watched the boys carve up the mere mortals on the opposing teams. If we weren’t flattening opponents out, we were coming behind from ridiculous deficits! (Look up Davidson at UNC Greensboro 2008). We went undefeated in the regular season and the conference tournament that year, and we roasted the Winthrop Eagles on their court in a Bracketbusters matchup. (It got so bad, when one of our guards airballed it, Winthrop’s fans jeered him, then got real quiet when we shouted back "scoreboard!")

We were back in the tournament and we were dangerous. We got seeded against Gonzaga for our first match on, ironically, NC State’s home floor, and we thought we had a great chance to upset them. Beyond that, we didn’t know what would happen. What a run it turned out to be.

The tournament that year was a coming out party for Steph. In the first game against Gonzaga, he was running around screens, burying crazy shots, and whipping laser passes to his teammates. The defining moment of that came with about a minute and a half left: One of our best defenders, Max Paulhaus Gosselin, had to throw up a prayer because the shot clock expired. It went shorter than most expected, and Zags and Wildcats went scrambling for the ball. One of our forwards, Andrew Lovedale, fought for it on the baseline, scanned for Steph, and quickly hit him on the wing. Steph rose, fired, swish. The crowd went nuts! We went on to win that game 81-74 if I remember right.

Next up was big bad Georgetown, who was one of the favorites to make a Final Four run that year. They had athletes at every position, were rugged and well-coached, and starred Roy Hibbert. I remember watching on my laptop in my mom’s office (we were on spring break) because it got so bad CBS switched to another game—at that point we were getting blown out by about 16 points. I kept watching for two reasons: one, the UNC Greensboro comeback was from an even larger deficit, so I knew anything was possible. Second, I was either delusional, stupid, or unwavering in my faith that our guys had that right stuff to something that would shock everybody watching.

They didn’t disappoint. Gritty defense got us stop after stop, and Steph was getting buckets. A 20 point deficit turned in to an 18 point deficit. Then 16. Then 13. 11. 8. 5. Suddenly we were 3 down. Steph gets a ridiculous bucket with a foul, then sinks a free throw! When we tied it up, we went on a 7-0 run with 2 minutes left. Steph’s dagger moment? Dribbles behind his back to shake two defenders and throws up a three. Now the UNC fans are going wild! After some scary moments, we pulled the win out – the number 10 seeded Davidson Wildcats upset the 2 Georgetown Hoyas!

By the time all was said and done Steph had scored 40 points – 30 of them coming in the second half. I kept thinking: Our best kept secret was finally out for the rest of the world to see. Campus was fricking electric when I got back to Davidson that week. And then, we got even better news.

Our alums are well connected and pretty loaded, but small in number compared to the bigger universities. Our Board of Trustees decided we needed some more fan support for a moment our school hadn’t seen in about 50 or so years, so they decided our students should get in on the fun. Several busloads of students got bus fare and hotels for the weekend to Detroit to watch our boys go to the Sweet Sixteen – and I was one of them. It took about 8 hours driving through 3 states, but we finally got to downtown Detroit and took over a Holiday Inn about 15 minutes from Ford Field.

That weekend was nuts. But what was even more amazing wasn’t just the fact our boys were playing with the chemistry and teamwork that was putting other more talented teams to shame – it was the fact that Steph was blowing up into a full- blown star. Bucket after bucket, acrobatic play after another. Steph did it all when we demolished Wisconsin by 15 points. LeBron, who showed up with his entourage just to watch Steph play about 20 rows below where I was, certainly got his money’s worth. (How ironic considering the Cavs-Warriors rivalry of the last two years).

Next thing we knew, we were in the Elite Eight against Kansas. We were the final game that determined who would be part of the Final Four that year. UCLA and North Carolina had already made it back, along with a Coach Cal and Derrick Rose-led Memphis squad. Now all we had to do to face UNC again was beat one of the top college basketball programs of all time.

The game was a battle all night long. Steph was our only reliable option and he was getting double-teamed and even triple-teamed at times by guys like Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, and Brandon Rush (I love BRush but I’m still mad as hell at him for being on that team!). Kansas would go on runs, we would go on runs, but it was mostly a gritty contested game. The final minute will be forever burned into my brain. Down five, on an out of bounds play, I remember watching Steph run through three screens and bury a three-pointer. The next series, Sharron Collins fires a three, misses, and gets redirected by Arthur out of bounds. 59-57 Kansas, our possession. We took a timeout. I remember stopping, silently, and praying to God not for a victory, but that whatever outcome he intended, that it be left in his hands. I didn’t realize how loud 800 or so students could be, but before the final play I realized that all the other fans that showed up for the Midwest Regional not affiliated with Kansas were screaming for us.

Steph brought up the ball that possession and got immediately double-teamed, with another defender coming on its way. He quickly dumped the ball off to our point guard, Jason Richards, who heaved up a three from way deep. It was…wide left. Final: Davidson 57, Kansas 59. We were in disbelief and just slumped. Our Cinderella fairytale didn’t have a storybook ending this time, even as the country was rooting for the plucky underdog. We returned home late that night passing through Ohio, Kentucky and finally getting back to North Carolina around 3 in the morning. I didn’t go to class that day, but true to form, all of the basketball players did, and got a standing ovation for each class they went to. We had a celebration later that Thursday commemorating the team’s great accomplishment, and we even got a special shout out from Neil Diamond who did his famous "Sweet Caroline" for us. An techno version of the song was basically our anthem during the under 4 minute timeout at games, so to get that kind of treatment showed us what kind of an impact our team had on the country.

Alas, all great things must come to an end. We graduated most of our starters for the 2009 season, and Steph got a bad ankle injury against Furman the next year (sorry guys, that’s where the ankle problems started), wrapping up an underwhelming season in which we missed the NCAA tournament and got beat by St. Mary’s in the NIT. Not taking any chances, he decided to declare for the draft because it was the right time. And as much as we wished he would come back for senior year—not just for the games, but to have his presence on campus—we already knew it was time for his next step.

I will be forever grateful to Stephen Curry for helping shape an amazing experience at Davidson and just being an amazing guy to know. My best friend got pissed at me once because I absolutely had to watch game 6 of the 2015 finals at a house where they didn’t really care for mainstream sports that much. He had the nerve to ask me whether I was just strangely obsessed or whether I actually knew the guy (which on a campus of 1,700 people, uh, duh?).

I did, and even if we didn’t hang out much after our freshman year, he was still a tremendous influence on my life. He came back to campus our senior year both before and after the season — he had recognized me right away when I caught him and Ayesha hanging out at one of the senior basketball apartments the week before school started. Had I not politely excused myself so he could enjoy spending time with his former teammates and his then-girlfriend, I probably would have stayed there for awhile to ask him about topics other than basketball, and he would have gladly obliged.

And when people say he’s a better man than he is a basketball player, it’s absolutely true. He was always a great dude, and knew how to be a practical joker but still treat everyone with respect. I remember after they got back from the tournament we had one last hurrah for parties down at Patterson Court (we called the festivities "Spring Frolics"). Steph poured a stream of water down my back that was ice cold, laughed his butt off and bolted down the stairs of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house. I leapt the wall leading from the stairs and bolted after him. As fast as I was, I think all those curls and screens he ran gave him an edge on me. By the time we were both out of breath he dapped me, we both had a good laugh and went back to hanging out on the back porch of the house.

He has pride but he doesn’t have an ego. He never forgot where he came from on his journey to the upper echelon of professional basketball. He continued to work his butt off, surviving poor coaching, crappy teammates, multiple ankle injuries, a bunch of doubters, and front office drama to lead a group of versatile, unselfish players to the Bay Area’s first NBA championship in over 40 years. The alien-like Steph you’ve been watching is the Steph I’ve seen since college. 2015, in my opinion, was finally the year he remembered how to be the amazing player he always was and own it. And he’s better than he ever was before.

Yet he’s never forgotten where he came from; even in his first MVP speech he gave a shout out to his (soon to be) Alma Mater, remarking, using a slogan any Davidson person knows well, "Everyday is a great day to be a Wildcat!" It’s why he went back earlier this year to spend time with his old teachers and the students at his high school, Charlotte Christian. It’s why he always goes back to Davidson to see Bob McKillop and his other coaches, or have a sit down Q-&-A with current students.He wears his faith proudly but not arrogantly. I’ve seen firsthand how he walks the walk. The campaign for his first signature shoe centered around him being the "patron saint of the underdog."

Even though he’s blessed with an ability like no one other – his shooting – his faith, his character, his work ethic, and willingness to lift up his teammates and others around him since before he got to the NBA are the reason I knew he would be as successful as he’s become. More importantly, and call this sappy or cheesy if you want, but his example has shown me again and again that not only the underdog can triumph, but that good can triumph.

And I’m proud to say not only did I know him, but I got to say I witnessed it with my own eyes somewhere around the time when it all started.

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I’m gonna leave this as well. Politico blogger Michael Kruse was then a writer for the Tampa Bay Times and was on our campus for most of the year we had "The Run." He wrote a book called "Taking the Shot" and, after Steph got his first All-Star nod, he eventually he wrote a piece for Bleacher Report in the run-up to the All-Star Game, soliciting feedback from those who witnessed the run, but more importantly what it meant to us at Davidson at the time. This response came from one of my friends and classmates, and I think does more justice about what he meant to all of us who walked side by side with him that year.

Stephen Curry means a lot to a lot of people, and this event only strengthened that notion.

Cheers y’all.