Family has been support, inspiration for Curry 

click to enlarge Stephen Curry, who participated in the Shooting Stars event at All Star weekend in February with his father Dell Curry, paid special tribute to his family in his MVP acceptance speech Monday. - FRANK FRANKLIN/AP
  • Frank Franklin/AP
  • Stephen Curry, who participated in the Shooting Stars event at All Star weekend in February with his father Dell Curry, paid special tribute to his family in his MVP acceptance speech Monday.
OAKLAND — The image was so delightfully hokey, such an utter Norman Rockwell moment, that Stephen Curry felt the need to mock it himself. There he was Sunday night, striding into the backyard of his house and being greeted by his entire family, all of them surprising him with T-shirts acknowledging that he had been named the Most Valuable Player in the NBA, all of them standing before him with what he recalled were “the cheesiest smiles you could imagine.”

​It almost feels too good to be true, the warmth with which Curry describes his relationship to his family, the way they always seem to be nearby, captured on camera at every crucial game he plays. But given all this, it makes sense they would be the ones to reveal the news about the MVP award to him. And of course they were lined up in the front row of a hotel ballroom Monday, his mother and father, his brother and sister, his grandmother, and his wife and daughter, all of them beaming and fighting back tears as Curry delivered an elegant nationally televised tribute to each of them.

​He recalled playing basketball on a Fisher-Price basket at the age of 2, his grandmother providing the play-by-play; he shared the story of first meeting his wife, Ayesha, as an awkward teenager (and the way she has stuck by him in the years since), and he remembered the way his mother once held him out of his first middle school basketball game because he didn’t do the dishes. And he nearly broke down while paying extensive tribute to his father, Dell, a 16-year NBA veteran, both thanking him for setting a precedent and thanking him for encouraging him to find his own way as a player in the NBA.

​“Pops,” Curry said, “you’re the example of what a true professional is, on and off the court. To be able to follow in your footsteps, it means a lot to me.”

​It’s not possible, at this point, to discuss Curry’s path to success without mentioning his family. Warriors general manager Bob Myers commended Dell and his wife, Sonya, for raising “one of the best people I’ve ever come across.”

​“If you win an MVP, it doesn’t just come from nowhere,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, and then he pointed at Curry’s family. “It comes from right here.”

​It would be easy to presume that Dell’s success made it easy for his son, but this was a central theme to the message Curry conveyed on Monday afternoon: That he needed to find his way on his own. That he had to create a separate narrative for himself. He remembered having to entirely reconstruct his jump shot because he wasn’t strong enough to shoot over his head as a kid. He remembered attending high school in Charlotte, N.C. — the town where his father, a star with the Hornets, is still seen as a local hero — as a gawky and still-developing guard, listening to opponents ask him how much his father had paid the referees to make calls in his favor, or murmuring in his ear. Your daddy can’t help you on the court. All through high school, Stephen Curry dealt with the fact that he wasn’t a top-tier recruit. He wound up at Davidson out of necessity, because no one else wanted him. Out of that, he says, he crafted his own story.

​“I tried to give [my kids] everything they needed, but not everything they wanted,” Dell Curry said. “As an NBA son, you can’t be like your dad. You have to be your own player. But I knew his skill set was a lot broader than mine, and that it wouldn’t be easy, and he’d have to commit to it.”

​Stephen did that early, playing fierce one-on-one games in the backyard with his little brother Seth so late into the night that the neighbors would call to complain about the noise of bouncing basketballs. Stephen and Seth (who played at Duke, and just finished an All-Star season in the NBA’s D-League) remain close. On Monday, Seth Curry listened to his brother talk about those games, and the way Seth would sometimes run away with the ball when he thought he had been fouled, and he admitted that the story was 100 percent accurate.

​“He was always bigger than me,” Seth said. “I had to get the calls.”

​Those games, too, are part of the story Stephen Curry created for himself, a measure of the way he leaned on his family at every turn. His is such a powerful narrative now that it’s long since overpowered that of his own father.

​Said Dell: “I think I became Steph’s dad [rather than Steph being Dell’s son] about three years ago.”

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Michael Weinreb

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