Warriors

'Low-key father figure' McKillop played key to Curry's stardom

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'Low-key father figure' McKillop played key to Curry's stardom

Programming note: The "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards" -- featuring Bay Area stars Stephen Vogt, Stephen Curry, Hunter Pence, Derek Carr, Torrey Smith and Tara VanDerveer -- will air on Jan. 31 at 7:30pm on CSN Bay Area and at 11pm on CSN California.

Though he now sits atop the NBA world, the basketball journey of Warriors star Stephen Curry has gone through his own personal jungle, with his own self-belief often tangling with the skepticism and rejection of others.

Perhaps no one outside Curry’s family has witnessed this more than his former coach at Davidson College. Bob McKillop not only has been a witness, he has shared many of those experiences.

Which may be why even now, with Curry as the reigning NBA MVP and McKillop still coaching the Davidson Wildcats, the two rarely go more than a few days without talking or texting.

“I talk to him probably once a week now,” Curry says. “Sometimes, it’s about random stuff, keeping tabs on him and the team that’s representing the Wildcats right now. It’s the same old Bob, pushing guys, yelling at them, getting on their case.

“He can do that because he has so much love for each one of his players, and that never stops no matter how far we are away from the campus.”

[POOLE: Steph Curry: Better ambassador than Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, etc.]

McKillop’s influence on Curry resulted in the coach being honored at the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards this week. The show can be seen at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, on CSN Bay Area.

McKillop flew in from North Carolina – in the middle of his team’s season – to join Curry among the presenters and honorees at the Fairmont Hotel. He would not have missed it for all the chocolate in Switzerland.

“It’s one of the most extraordinary gifts that’s ever been given to me,” McKillop says of his relationship with Curry. “That’s the greatness of Steph Curry. He’s continually giving gifts to people He can make a devil look like an angel. He has the capacity to make people feel good.

McKillop has watched Curry transform from a rail-thin 10-year-old into a man who has fans around the globe eating out of his hand. Everywhere the Warriors go, folks are lining up to get a glimpse of the man who is taking the game into new and exciting territory.

“He somehow has the ability to get people to root for him,” McKillop says. “There are so many people out there that are jealous. They root against LeBron. They root against Cam Newton. They root against whomever. But Steph doesn’t get anybody to root against him.

“He is able to transcend that by the way he represents his family, himself, his club and his teammates. He makes people feel good. He gives joy. How many people give joy not just because of how they perform but also the way they are?”

[POOLE: Don't believe the stereotype: Steph Curry as tough as they come]

Curry, 27, points to lessons learned at Davidson. He appreciates that McKillop recruited him when others turned away – including Virginia Tech, the alma mater of Curry’s parents, which invited him as a walk-on. McKillop believed when few others outside the Curry family did.

“He just gave me so much confidence and opportunity,” Curry recalls. “He told me when he recruited me that he was going to push me, that I could do some special things, not only in college but also at the next level.

“The biggest influence he has on myself and any other player that play for him is that he develops total character. He puts as much value on that, if not more, than what you do on the court. He’s like a low-key father figure for everybody that comes through there because he pushes you so much.”

McKillop said two things about teen-age Steph stood out. One, he had uncanny vision and anticipation at both ends of the court. And, two, he had a short memory.

“He never dwelled in the past,” McKillop recalls. “If he made a mistake – or a few mistakes – he forgot. He absolutely forgot. And this was as a high school player.”

[POOLE: Warriors report cards: Steph Curry with room to improve]

Those same characteristics are visible today, as Curry is the leader of the defending champions, who have been even better this season. Yes, he’s the son of former NBA player Dell Curry. Yes, there were other coaches who helped along the way.

But Steph Curry will have a lifelong connection with his former coach, for reasons that go far beyond basketball. Catchphrases instilled from his time at Davidson, just outside Charlotte, remain embedded in his mind.

It’s a great day to be a Wildcat! TCC! (Trust, Commitment, Care). Keep sleeping in the streets!

The latter phrase, which McKillop concedes to lifting from former NBA player and coach Kevin Loughery, translates roughly to “always be prepared, ready to find a solution, no matter the challenge.” Or, as Curry says, “have that edge about you, even in uncomfortable situations, to be able to hold your own.”

Seven years into his NBA career, Curry is paving a road to the Hall of Fame. Should he get there, you can bet he’ll cite McKillop as one of the reasons.

“You want to do nothing more than to make him proud and be successful for him,” Curry says. “To do your best because of what he invests in you.”

Warriors vs. Clippers watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

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USATSI

Warriors vs. Clippers watch guide: Lineups, injuries and player usage

LOS ANGELES – Somewhere behind the tsunami of conversation and debate devoted to DeMarcus Cousins making his return to the NBA on Friday, the Warriors and Clippers will play a basketball game.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30 with Warriors Pregame, with tipoff at Staples Center scheduled for 7:30.

Though Cousins’ Warriors debut will be the focal point of every fan around the globe, the team has a compelling bit of business at hand.

They’re trying to extend a six-game win streak against a team they no longer dominate.

The Warriors (31-14) had beaten the Clippers 12 consecutive times before taking a 19-point loss at Oracle Arena last January. The teams have split their last four games, including the first two this season: a Clippers 121-116 overtime win on Nov. 12 in LA and the Warriors taking a 129-127 victory on Dec. 23 in Oakland.

The Clippers (24-20) remade their roster over the last two summers and had been better than projected before losing their last four games. They own the seventh-best record in the Western Conference and 12th best in the league.

This is the Warriors’ first trip to Staples since the highly publicized squabble between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green on Nov. 12.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Warriors F – Kevin Durant F – Draymond Green C – DeMarcus Cousins G – Klay Thompson G – Stephen Curry

Clippers F – Danilo Gallinari F – Tobias Harris C – Marcin Gortat G – Avery Bradley G – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

 

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C Damian Jones (L pectoral surgery) is listed as out.

Clippers: F Luc Mbah a Moute (L knee soreness) is listed as out.

 

ROTATION OUTLOOK

Warriors: Though Cousins will start, he’s not likely to play more than five consecutive minutes, which leaves the possibility of limited action in each quarter. The remaining minutes are expected to go to Kevon Looney and Draymond Green. Jordan Bell, already on the fringe of the rotation, is the odd man out.. . . Curry (42) and Durant (35) combined for 77 points in the last meeting between the teams.. . . Backup PG Shaun Livingston has been effective since returning after a brief absence with knee soreness, shooting 10-of-15 from the field over his last four games. He had a season-high 13 points against the Pelicans on Wednesday.

Clippers: G Lou Williams is the most dangerous bench scorer in the league. He’s averaging 18.7 ppg, tops among all reserves. He’s averaging 22.5 ppg over his last 12 games.. . . Backup C/F Montrezl Harrell has been so effective he consistently plays more minutes than Gortat. His 11 double-doubles lead all reserves.. . . Williams and Harrell are the primary reasons the Clippers lead the NBA in bench scoring (52.6 ppg). The Warriors are 28th (30.2).. . . Yes, G Patrick Beverley remains a Clipper and will get minutes, if only to annoy Curry. It’s fair to say they have a longstanding adversarial relationship.

Officials: Eric Lewis (chief), Gediminas Petraitis, Brandon Adair

Draymond Green's agent reveals his one main wish for DeMarcus Cousins

Draymond Green's agent reveals his one main wish for DeMarcus Cousins

Programming note: Watch DeMarcus Cousins’ warm-up Friday before his Warriors debut live on the MyTeams app at 5:50 p.m. PT, with analysis from Greg Papa, Garry St. Jean and Kelenna Azubuike. Download MyTeams on Google Play and the App Store.

Draymond Green might be more excited for DeMarcus Cousins' return than DeMarcus Cousins is for DeMarcus Cousins' return (that makes sense, right?).

Draymond's agent, B.J. Armstrong, is also very happy that Boogie will be back in action tonight vs the Clippers. He loves Cousins' game and is a big fan.

But Armstrong is hoping Cousins' time with the Warriors isn't just defined by points, rebounds and assists.

"The one thing that I'm really wishing for him is not to be a good teammate, but to be a great teammate," Armstrong said recently on The Pure Hoops Podcast. "It's really important as a player, it's really important for your relationships that you have.

"When it's all said and done as a player, you'll remember these moments. This is a significant moment for him."

Yes, it is.

Cousins is hoping for a big payday this summer in free agency, and obviously a lot of that will depend on how he performs the next few months and how his Achilles responds.

But the rest of the league will be paying very close attention to how he impacts the Warriors chemistry, his standing in the locker room and how he handles somewhat of a lesser role on the court.

The good news for the four-time All-Star is that his teammates have his back 100 percent.

"We'll do everything in our power to make sure he succeeds," Andre Iguodala told reporters after Golden State's win on Wednesday night. "That's everybody in the locker room. That's really our focus."

That support is key and Cousins will rely on it at various points throughout his comeback. It's also important that the help is reciprocated. 

[RELATEDHow DeMarcus Cousins will help Warriors in these three specific areas]

"I just hope he understands the importance of being a great teammate -- not a good teammate -- a great teammate," Armstrong reiterated. "Because that is the most important thing. You walk away from the game -- every player -- hopefully you walk away with some friends you made over the years.

"I just hope Boogie experiences one of the joys of this league -- is to become a great teammate ... his teammates are so excited for him ... I just hope that Boogie appreciates that because he has some great teammates right now.

"This is a priceless moment for him and a very key moment in his career."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller