Calling out Trump, Curry makes his strongest statement of NBA career

Calling out Trump, Curry makes his strongest statement of NBA career

After personally handing out meals and more to folks in need, Stephen Curry sat in the conference room of an Oakland church and opened a window into his sociopolitical thinking.

Asked about the risks of speaking out on such sensitive matters, Curry explained that he realized his status had given him the privilege of a platform that he feels obligated to use. Any decisions about speaking out, he said, would be guided by his principles.

“Sometimes,” he said, “it’s worse when you don’t say something.”

That was more than three years ago, and Curry’s star was just beginning to rise. He has since won two MVP awards, led the Warriors to their first NBA Championship in 40 years and become an international celebrity.

He also happens to be the most effective star in the marketing stable of the growing athletic footwear and apparel company Under Armour.

Which brings us to Wednesday, when Curry waded into the waters related to President Donald Trump.

Commenting on a statement made  by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who in an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner, referred to Trump as pro-business and, therefore, “a real asset for the country.”

Curry, in an interview with Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson II, had a reaction that could not have pleased Plank.

“I agree with that description,” Curry said, “if you remove the ‘et’ “ from the word asset.

This is the strongest statement Curry has made on any matter, at any time during a career now in its eighth season. He is under contract to Under Armour until 2024. Moreover, he has an ownership stake.

Yet he spoke out, and in very unambiguous terms that clashed with the CEO of the company he represents. And Curry is smart enough to know his explicit critique of the president may alienate potential buyers of shoes and clothing attached to his name.

This is big.

This is Curry taking his clout to the highest level yet -- even if it jeopardizes his relationship with Under Armour.

“If there is a situation where I can look at myself in the mirror and say they don’t have my best intentions, they don’t have the right attitude about taking care of people,” Curry said. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.

“So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”

Curry said he spent much of Tuesday in dialogue with representatives of Under Armour, as well as his own representatives. He was seeking more information, in hopes of gaining clarification.

Though he obviously feels uneasy about the company, he has not decided to sever the business relationship. Not yet.

But it’s on his mind. Does he want to be associated with a company in which the CEO openly expressed a fondness for the polarizing new president?

“It’s a fine line but it’s about how we’re operating,” Curry said, “how inclusive we are, what we stand for. He’s the President. There are going to be people that are tied to them. But are we promoting change? Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it’s only about making money, selling shoes, doing this and that. That’s not the priority. It’s about changing lives. I think we can continue to do that.”

In other words, if Under Armour mimics Trump’s isolationist policies and open disrespect of others, Curry is ready to walk.

Curry, 28, has never used a megaphone to express himself, and don’t expect that to happen now. He’s a Christian who rarely directly talks religion. He routinely donates to charities and community groups, and not always publicly. He’s not one to talk his way into the spotlight.

But he’s not going to shrink. Not now. Not on the dawn of what clearly is becoming a new age of activism for athletes.

Warriors' Klay Thompson will return 'late next season,' father Mychal says

Warriors' Klay Thompson will return 'late next season,' father Mychal says

There is not yet an official timeline for Klay Thompson’s return to the Warriors lineup, but his father provided a pretty good update the other day.

Mychal Thompson, who accompanied Klay out of Oracle Arena after the shooting guard sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of The Finals, indicated his son may be able to resume moderate basketball activities by the end of the calendar year.

“He’s walking normally and he’s very optimistic and enthusiastic about getting back late next season,” Thompson said on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider podcast.

“Once he gets back up to the bay and is around the team and he’s working out . . . he probably won’t be on the court doing fullcourt drills until late December or January. So, he’s got quite a ways to go. The main thing is to stay dedicated and diligent in your rehab and just continue to work hard and keep that motivation to get back on the court with his teammates.”

Thompson sustained the injury on June 13 and underwent surgery on July 2. With a typical recovery period falling anytime between six months and nine months, his father’s projection is within range.

Mychal even offered a comparison: Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who had surgery in February 2017. LaVine five months later (in July) announced himself ahead of schedule. Four months later, he was throwing down windmill dunks in full-contact practices.

When LaVine did not return until January, it was speculated that he could have come back sooner if the Bulls weren’t committed to tanking.

There is no questioning that LaVine aced his recovery.

“Modern medicine has advanced so much since 10, 15, 20 years ago,” Mychal Thompson said. “Guys come back from this injury and are normal. You can look at a bunch of players in the league now who have suffered that injury and have come back because they’ve dedicated themselves to their rehab. And they come back as if nothing ever happened.

“Doctors are so good now. Modern medicine is so good at repairing these athletes. That’s the way I talked to Klay. You’re going to be fine. Look at Zach LaVine. He had the same injury and is as bouncy as ever because guys like that work hard to come back. (Klay) will come back stronger than ever.”

Thompson’s injury led some to wonder if the Warriors might reduce the proposed max contract offer once he became a free agent. They didn’t. Thompson last month signed a five-year pact worth $190 million.

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“We never worried about that, because (Warriors CEO) Joe Lacob and management have been so loyal to their core players and what they have meant to that franchise,” Mychal Thompson said. “And with this injury, every doctor assured Klay and the Warriors that he was going to come back as good as ever.”

The Warriors would happily accept that and remain hopeful that Thompson will be able to return to game action sometime in February or March.

Why Bob Myers believes Warriors' title run felt like 'running five marathons'

Why Bob Myers believes Warriors' title run felt like 'running five marathons'

It's hard to blame the man.

After five consecutive runs to the NBA Finals, just about every member of the Golden State Warriors organization was drained. General manager Bob Myers recently joined The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on his podcast, and went in-depth on the toll these marathon seasons have taken.

“Thinking back to my state of mind, there's things I know. I was tired, I know that. Just the five years, I don't know how that plays with the audience and listeners and how to convey that appropriately, but internally, for those that work here, that was, we felt that.”

“And not having time each offseason, leading right into the draft, leading right into free agency, I look at it as running five marathons back to back to back. And the fifth one, you're just like 'Can we cross the line?'”

Myers also constantly dealt with questions regarding the 2019 free agency period throughout the tail end of the season.

“I didn't have that kind of certainty that you intimated as far as did I know if Kevin was gonna go or stay. It was more of 'There's a lot of work to do and a lot of unknowns’.”

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KD’s departure put a bow on what was one of the most dominant three-year runs by a team in NBA history. Although the team salvaged All-Star D’Angelo Russell in the Durant sign-and-trade, the team still enters 2020 with a litany of unknowns.

“I don't think it was a fear of what was upcoming, it was just more of, there's a lot of uncertainty.”