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Things aren’t always what they seem (and neither are people)

The video of Stephen Curry busting a move at Harrison Barnes’s wedding is a prime example of the dangers of forming narratives without the benefit of context. Also, it’s a cautionary tale about the ways simple fun can go horribly wrong.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
“Who, me?”
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

So, apparently, two-time NBA champion Stephen Curry had a hell of a time at Harrison Barnes’s wedding — mocking rival hoops star LeBron James with dances, grimaces and funny faces — much to the delight of those gathered around him.

Or, he didn’t.

Retired Cavalier Brendan Haywood recorded a video (which appears to have been removed) and used a slew of hashtags and emoji to describe the scene.

As explained in Haywood’s post, the most noted culprit (?) onlooker to the spectacle was none other than Kyrie Irving.


Before James’s return to the Cavs from South Beach, Cleveland was Irving’s team. But he accepted James’s return and entertained the little-brother role because James had won championships and Irving had not. James was back to show them how to win, and he did. The Cavs faced off against the Warriors in the NBA Finals in each of the last three years, winning the championship in 2016 by campaigning the referees to suspend Draymond Green.

Apparently, winning wasn’t enough to overcome an arrangement that long ago must have turned sour. Irving — a grown-ass man likely sick of conceding and deferring to James — requested a trade this summer. And ... The Washington Post noted that Irving unfollowed James on Instagram in late July. Oooooh.

Court of public opinion

Curry denied his antics were a jab at his rival, stating:

  • he wasn’t mocking James;
  • explaining that “[LeBron James] made a song popular by making a video ... so now every time I hear that song, that’s all I think about;” and
  • declaring Irving’s presence a “a casualty of the moment.”

Clearly, Haywood didn’t see it this way, and Irving did wear an oh-that’s-cold expression for much of Curry’s performance.

Warriors fans, like the one who emailed to thank me recently for writing the piece on Curry being the “happy warrior,” will probably have some explaining to do to the Golden State haters in their lives. As it is, Curry is viewed by some as the cockiest player to step foot on a basketball court since Michael Jordan. (Perhaps these people were comatose during the 20-year Kobe Bryant era?)

It’s Curry’s shimmies. The flexing of the guns. The screaming his head off. The dancing. The hype-man moves towards the crowd. The sweep-the-leg/no-mercy mindset. The daggers which completely demoralize opponents. All of it rubs fans of losing teams the wrong way, resulting in cries against Curry’s “arrogance” and “disrespect” — which is a creatively-conjured exaggeration. When Curry isn’t running, shooting the ball or setting a play, he’s walking casually, gnawing on his mouth guard.

When he makes a shot, usually he salutes God by tapping his heart and pointing to the sky. The other stuff happens rarely and seems harmless. He is not getting in anybody’s face which, to Warriors fans, means he’s just lost in the moment and having a little fun.

Which is it — arrogant a-hole or happy-go-lucky, joy-filled dude?

According to Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, Curry is “humble” off the court but “cocky” on it.

Obviously, Curry was not on the court when he allegedly mocked James, so there is a bit of a hole in Kerr’s theory as it applies to this situation. Still, Curry has proved himself to be a decent, thoughtful person, so it is difficult to imagine him being motivated to attack someone maliciously. Instead, it is more likely that he was just having fun. After all, Curry has declared frequently that he strives to live life to its fullest.

Curry likely was mocking James, even if it was out of silliness rather than malice. But being that he and James are both the faces of the NBA, perhaps it would be a good idea for them cool it to prevent even the potential for things to spiral out of control.

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