Stephen Curry Finally Gets Some Rest (but Only From Basketball)


Stephen Curry woke up sore on Thursday.

He had good reason: It had been only a week since his Golden State Warriors lost a grueling N.B.A. finals series to the Toronto Raptors.

In the last five seasons, Curry has played in 93 playoff games, adding more than the equivalent of a full 82-game regular season to his workload. He said he had not picked up a basketball since his team’s Game 6 loss and did not plan to play competitively for another month or so. He has to recover from what he called “knickknack injuries” and sore legs, which can be masked by the adrenaline of a deep postseason run.

“Your mind is powerful because it keeps you feeling better than you really are,” Curry said.

And this was a season in need of that kind of self-deception.

Just one week removed from what can only be described as a crushing end to his 2018-19 season, Curry invited a New York Times reporter to ride with him for about an hour as he was driven from his home to San Francisco International Airport to fly to Asia for his fifth tour there with Under Armour. From the back of the vehicle — a cross between a stretch limousine and a party bus that resembled a rolling spaceship — Curry spoke at length about the uncertainty of the Warriors heading into next season, his off-court aspirations and his willingness to get involved in politics.


The next several months have much in store for Curry, a 31-year-old basketball savant who, after 10 seasons, is already thinking hard about life after basketball. No, he won’t be making a cameo in LeBron James’s production of “Space Jam 2” (he was asked but said no, citing scheduling issues), but he will probably field a call or two from former President Barack Obama (he said they are in contact about once a month).

He has ramped up projects for his production company, Unanimous Media, which he formed last year with his partners Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton. Its name nods to Curry’s unanimous selection as the league’s most valuable player in 2016.

That was a good year. But Curry will soon encounter one of the biggest challenges of his career on a basketball court, after devastating injuries to his teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the finals that will keep them out for much of next season, if not all of it. That is, of course, if they are re-signed by the Warriors to begin with, since both can be free agents. At this stage of Curry’s career, when he should be able to take a step back and manage his body, he may have to handle an even bigger offensive load.

“I run a lot more than the next guy,” Curry said. “There’s really just an understanding of my training and the things I do to get myself ready. I can withstand that type of output night after night. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to require another level of discipline.”

He will probably not have the option of “load management,” a term that has entered the N.B.A. vocabulary to describe players sitting out regular-season games so they can be fresher for the playoffs. After years of benefiting from a team with exceptional firepower, Curry, one of the greatest offensive players in history, could find himself as the firepower.


Curry said that he could not see himself playing until age 40, but that he wasn’t worried about extra weight in spite of his injury history. He said he was ready to dig deep — even though “I don’t know who our starting lineup is going to be next year.”

“This regular season was the hardest one we’ve ever had in terms of keeping everything together,” Curry said. “Not because of anything more than it’s just mentally challenging to perform at this level every single night. When we got to the playoffs, it was the most fun I think we’ve had, minus the injuries, obviously. That was tough all the way across the board.

“But it was as fun, if not more, than years past. Because one, we were challenged. Two, there was a constant communication in the locker room like, ‘Yo, this is what we live for.’”

They ended the season on their home floor, at Oracle Arena, but it was the Raptors who were celebrating a championship. Then the scene suddenly changed. As Toronto’s players and their family and friends flooded the court, Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ president, was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who would not let him on the court because he said he did not have the proper credential. (The police said Ujiri, who is black, struck a white officer in the face, though some bystanders have disputed this account; prosecutors are investigating the incident.)

“You know what’s crazy? I saw him after,” Curry said, referring to Ujiri. “I didn’t know anything about this situation. But looking back, I saw his face and I could tell something had happened.”


Curry said he had seen cellphone videos from bystanders and read the news reports about the incident.

“If he didn’t do anything wrong, obviously, you’d hope that it was handled in a better fashion,” he said. “Especially for a guy that was going out and trying to celebrate with his team that had done something historical. So I don’t know if that was a white G.M. or whatever, if that’s handled differently. You can always play the what-if game.”

The incident became part of long-running discussions about race and policing in the United States, a topic Curry said he is passionate about along with gun violence. He was an executive producer for “Emanuel,” a Brian Ivie-directed documentary released last week about the 2015 mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C.

In recent years, Curry has been more likely to be political, such as when he spoke out against President Trump in 2017 or when he invited Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, Calif., to be a guest on his YouTube show. He also appeared with Obama at an event in Oakland this year. One of Curry’s partners at Unanimous Media, Smith, worked in the White House’s office of digital strategy under Obama.

But don’t expect Curry to be involved in 2020 campaigning, as James and J.R. Smith, the Cleveland Cavaliers guard, were for Hillary Clinton in 2016.


CreditEric McCandless/ABC

“Let’s just say that I don’t have a relationship with anybody that’s running,” Curry said. “Maybe that will develop over time. But I haven’t gotten into that game yet.”

But he did say the stakes of the next presidential election were “extremely high,” “especially with how these last four years have been in terms of exposing a lot of nastiness that still exists in our country.”

Amid the tension in the United States, and even in the locker rooms of the N.B.A., Curry has been working to bring forth family friendly and personally meaningful entertainment through his production company. Curry is an executive producer of “Holey Moley,” a miniature golf reality show that had its television premiere on Thursday night after being promoted relentlessly by ABC during the N.B.A. finals, and was also one for “Breakthrough,” a faith-based drama that premiered around Easter. On YouTube, Curry has “5 Minutes From Home,” his version of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” in which he has hosted guests like the actor Daveed Diggs.

Curry said that he wanted to express the full breadth of his interests and that he could see himself writing scripts down the road. Some of his work has dealt with the lives of college athletes, who he said “definitely should get paid.”

But in the meantime, he is still in the prime of his basketball career. He doesn’t have many of those years left — and discussions about where Curry stands among N.B.A. greats are beginning to intensify. He attracts his fair share of criticism. His playoff failures — if you can call them that — are often cited as evidence that maybe he has always been more flash than substance. He hasn’t been voted the most valuable player in the finals, for example, something critics point at to diminish his accomplishments. Curry is aware of the noise, but he said he didn’t care much for the narratives.

“The only regret I do have is the behind-the-back pass I threw in 2016 in Game 7,” he said, referring to a crucial turnover with just about five minutes left in the game, which the Warriors lost. “That’s literally the only regret I have in terms of how I’ve played, and that comes with wins and losses, right? I’m cool.”

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