Steph and Ayesha Curry serving minds, bodies in North Oakland


Steph and Ayesha Curry serving minds, bodies in North Oakland

OAKLAND -- When Stephen Curry strolled into the cozy gym in North Oakland early Monday evening, eyes widened, jaws dropped and fingers pointed. This is not an uncommon reaction to the entrance of American sports royalty, except Curry conveyed no such thing.

“He doesn’t live here. He could have gone through the (Caldecott) tunnel,” George Henderson said, gesturing toward the suburbs where Curry resides. “But he came here. He picked us. And he has consistently blessed us. This is not the first or second time. He’s come by, on a whim, and spent one-on-one time with just our after-school kids.”

There were two specific reasons for this particular visit. In the gym, Curry floated through drills with neighborhood boys and girls, as well as high school players from his SC30 Select Camp. On the other side of the center, he presented a gift that ultimately may prove considerably more valuable to folks of all ages.

Curry was the ceremonial ribbon-cutter for the Stephen and Ayesha Curry Family Foundation Education Lab, a room within the rec center that features laptops, printers and headsets. Oakland city council member Dan Kalb also attended the unveiling.

“To be able to go in and become smarter, become confident and more intelligent as human beings, is important,” Curry said. “We really want you to enjoy that space.”

The lab is not nearly on the incredible scale of the LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, but it’s still indicative of Curry’s continual commitment to lend a hand to folks in need.

“The educational lab was a natural progression,” Henderson said. “It’s supporting everything that we’re taking as our new focus for Oakland Parks and Recreation youth development. This is what Park and Recs is good at. We can do some sports, we can do some arts and we can support their educational structure.”

Henderson has been on site at Bushrod for a couple years now. His quick smile, framed by a well-trimmed salt-and-pepper beard, along with an easy manner and firm handshake surely serve him well in his capacity. At one point during our nine-minute conversation, the aroma of marijuana smoke wafted it, causing him to pause for a moment, step outside and gently redirect the tokers.

As much as Henderson appreciates the athletic upgrades, including the inspiration slogans lining the walls of the gym, it is clear the lab warms his heart.

“All my kids of color -- whatever color -- are going to have the kind of access that can help them get that much further ahead,” he said. “Now that’s real talk.”

The lab, created in conjunction with partners Under Armour and Chase, comes less than 10 months after the Curry Foundation surprised local kids with a gorgeously refurbished gym, basketball court and other elements of center.

Bushrod, more than 100 years old, may be the closest thing to a landmark athletic center in Oakland. Often cited as the scene of some of baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson’s grandest childhood achievements, Bushrod also helped launched the major-league careers of Frank Robinson, Curt Flood, Billy Martin, Vada Pinson and many others.

It’s hallowed ground that has a chance to stay not only relevant but also serve a higher purpose, thanks to the Currys and their partners, well as the commitment of people like George Henderson.

“I love the energy the entire family provides, as an example to others,” Henderson said. “It’s just . . . hope.”


Kyrie Irving details why the Celtics can beat the Warriors in a seven-game series


Kyrie Irving details why the Celtics can beat the Warriors in a seven-game series

The Warriors have the best odds of winning the 2019 title.

The Celtics have the second best odds.

Kyrie Irving is confident that his squad will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in June.

"Can we beat Golden State in a seven-game series? Yes," Irving told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "Because of who we have, and what we're establishing here, not just for this season, but for hopefully for the next few years, something that's pretty special.

"I've played against Golden State in three straight Finals -- two that I was able to participate in -- and seeing them evolve, with the talent they have, and then adding DeMarcus Cousins, it's like 'OK, the whole league is on notice.'

"But there's one factor that they're aware of, and I'm aware of, and that's that I've seen them up close. I've played them so many times. We've gone in a seven-game series so I know what it takes."

Yes he does.

Over Games 3 through 7 in the 2016 Finals, Kyrie averaged 30.8 points and 4.4 assists while shooting just under 51 percent from the field (he also made a kind of important shot late in Game 7).

The five-time All-Star averaged 29.4 points and 4.4 assists on 47 percent shooting in the 2017 Finals.

Over the past couple of years, the Warriors' star players have consistently praised Kyrie and they genuinely respect his game.

The feeling is mutual as Kyrie understands the immense challenge that lies ahead.

"How do I communicate to our guys that this is the top-tier team, and we have to grow immensely in the next six months to beat them consistently? Not just one game, not just two, but in a seven-game series, because they're so dang great," Kyrie said. "They're a powerhouse."

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

Report: Tyler Ulis signing with Warriors instead of Kings, Rockets


Report: Tyler Ulis signing with Warriors instead of Kings, Rockets

The Warriors still are waiting on Patrick McCaw to sign his qualifying offer, but they reportedly brought in some backcourt depth in the meantime.

The two-time defending champions are set to sign ex-Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ulis to an Exhibit 10 contract, according to The Athletic and ESPN. Ulis chose to sign with the Warriors over the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, ESPN's Marc Spears reported Friday.

Ulis averaged 7.8 points and 23.4 minutes per game in 71 appearances with the Suns last season. He started 43 games, two of which came in April against the Warriors. 

The 22-year-old, whom the Suns drafted in the second round in 2016, figures to have a tough time cracking the Warriors' rotation. Point guards Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook all will be ahead of him on the depth chart, and Ulis' lack of size (5-foot-10, 150 pounds) makes time at the other guard spot unlikely. 

That explains his contract, then. An Exhibit 10 deal means that Ulis will receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if he signs with the G-League Santa Cruz after the Warriors waive him, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks' explainer of the deal. Ulis' deal also can become a two-way contract, minus the bonus.