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


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

Programming note: Warriors-Hornets coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Steph Curry returns to his hometown Wednesday with a perfect record and, moreover, an impeccable biography that twinkles brighter by the day.

He’s the reigning NBA MVP and great teammate who somehow has improved. He’s the leader of the defending champion Warriors, who on Wednesday night can lift their record to 20-0 with a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Curry also is, by all accounts, the fabulous husband, the wonderful father, the good soon, the splendid sibling and the exemplary role model.

His personal and professional stories keep getting better, though, as two events this week created even more distance between Curry and even the most impressive of his contemporaries.

The first occurred Sunday, when Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant announced his plan to retire at the end of the season. This represents another symbolic passing of a torch into the hands of Curry. Just as the retirement of Steve Nash last spring left Curry the official king of floor leaders, Kobe’s decision will create even more space for the expansion of Curry’s growing profile.

The second event occurred Monday, when star forward Kevin Durant ripped into the media for its depiction of Kobe’s decline. Some may be taking glee in Kobe’s fall, but those true to the game surely feel more melancholy than joy. Didn’t matter to KD. He sprayed everyone, dropping a couple unprintables in the process.

Once universally beloved, KD seems oddly intent on generating drama. It’s as if the Thunder forward decided sometime last season to shed his image of maturity and politeness for one that projects a man who goes gangsta.

Which brings us back to Curry, for he meets or exceeds the entertainment bar that was set so high by Michael Jordan and met in most ways by Kobe. Michael’s rise made us fantasize about dunking. Kobe’s rise made us all want to believe we’d make every shot, particularly in the clutch.

The comprehensive purity and grace of Steph’s game has surpassed that of KD and, in most ways, of LeBron James.

Steph’s rise has tilted planet basketball toward the 3-point shot and the joy it brings. He glamorizes the trey every bit as well as Michael did the dunk while also exhibiting Kobe’s capacity for embracing and succeeding in big moments.

But there is something else that sets Curry apart. He has become a better hoops ambassador than any of them. Better than Michael, better than Kobe, better than LeBron, better than KD. He does as they did but with a wink and a smile that belies his ultracompetitive ruthlessness.

It’s as if Steph Curry leaped off the pages of a storybook.

He signs dozens of autographs at every arena, home and away. He poses for selfies, home and away. He gives honest answers to postgame questions, reasonable or not. He won’t hesitate to pull up, with his wife sitting in the passenger’s seat, to the Chick-fil-A drive-thru and order a sandwich. The list of charities in which he participates is longer than the lines awaiting those autographs.

Steph is a “regular” guy who does amazing things on and off the court.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers this week penned an essay for Sports Illustrated in which he expresses his opinion that Curry, nominated for the magazine’s annual Sportsman of the Year award, should win it. I read it, nodding throughout.

“Combine all of his traits and you have a person that is elite in every way,” Myers wrote. “Everything he does is with the highest character. He’s a great husband, father, son, brother, friend and teammate. He’s a joy to be around.

“He has a daughter the same age as mine and I’ve gotten to see how he approaches fatherhood and how he treats his wife. It’s beyond imaginable. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s the guy you hope your daughter marries.”

The NBA – hell, the sports world – belongs to Steph Curry and he will feel the love Wednesday night when he enters Time Warner Cable Arena, in the city where he grew up, on the night his father, Dell, will be honored by the Charlotte Hornets.

Nash is gone. Kobe is leaving. LeBron is on the far side of his prime. KD’s easy charm is turning sour. Center stage belongs to Steph. He’s the guy having fun, the naturally complete package, ready for what lies ahead.

Warriors execs scout top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman up close


Warriors execs scout top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman up close

The Warriors likely will pick much higher than they've gotten used to in June's NBA draft. 

Golden State is a league-worst 2-9 this season, appearing like a lock to keep the top-20 protected 2020 first-round pick the Warriors sent to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade. The Warriors would have no shortage of options if they picked at -- or around -- the top of the draft, and their front office got an in-person glimpse at Memphis center James Wiseman on Tuesday night, according to The Athletic's John Hollinger. 

Wiseman, plagued by foul trouble early, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds as Memphis lost to Oregon on Tuesday night.

Wiseman will be one of, if not the best player available in the draft. The 7-foot freshman center averaged 22.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game entering Tuesday's game, and the 18-year-old has the upside to develop into something the Warriors have not had in the Steve Kerr era: A truly dominant big man.

[RELATED: Warriors' injury report still growing through trying season]

How much more Wiseman will play this season remains to be seen. The NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible for taking $11,500 from current Memphis coach Penny Hardaway in order to help Wiseman's family move when he transferred to play for Memphis East, the high school Hardaway was coaching at the time. A Shelby County, Tenn. judge placed an immediate temporary restraining order on the college athletics governing body shortly after the NCAA's ruling. Plus, as SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell noted, Memphis has not ruled Wiseman ineligible and the Tigers plan to continue playing him. 

Myers' presence at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, as well as that of Harris and Dunleavy, suggests the Warriors are taking their new reality very seriously. Golden State will need the lottery balls to bounce its way, too, in order to select Wiseman, but the Warriors should have done their due diligence by then, at least. 

Warriors continue to ache from most detrimental injury list in NBA

Warriors continue to ache from most detrimental injury list in NBA

SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors left for Los Angeles on Tuesday shortly after posting an injury report that is the longest and surely the most roster-altering in the NBA. It runs seven deep and includes three starters, two of them All-Stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Asked if he’d ever seen anything like it, coach Steve Kerr replied with a single word.

“No,” he said. “I’m not going to expound it either.”

Six weeks removed from training camp, only four players – Ky Bowman, Marquese Chriss, Jordan Poole and Glenn Robinson III – have escaped the trainer’s room.

With five games over an eight-day span beginning Wednesday against the Lakers in LA, here is an alphabetical status update on each player:

Steph Curry

The two-time MVP and franchise focal point for the past seven seasons sustained a broken left hand on Oct. 30 and underwent hand surgery on Nov. 1, after which the Warriors announced he will be re-evaluated in three months. When Curry addressed the media on Monday, he was wearing a heavy protective sleeve that runs from his left hand to his forearm. He also disclosed that he will undergo a second operation in December to remove pins inserted in the original procedure.

Curry also was firm in announcing his intention to return sometime this season.

Timeline for clearance: Undetermined. Obviously not before February.

Jacob Evans III 

The 6-foot-4 guard in his second season, who was expected to be in the team’s rotation, has missed the last eight games with a left adductor strain.

“Jacob, from what I heard (Monday) talking with him directly and our training staff, is still at least a couple weeks away,” Kerr said.

Timeline for clearance: Undetermined. It likely will be at least a month before he returns, so around mid-December.

Kevon Looney

The 6-foot-9 center-forward, scheduled to be at least a part-time starter, has not played since opening night, after which he was diagnosed with neuropathy, a condition related to the nervous system. It’s treatable but not necessarily curable. The effects of his condition might be permanent.

“He’s working out every day, getting some good work in,” Kerr said.

Timeline for clearance: Undetermined. The Warriors would be delighted if he returns next month. Looney might always have some level of restriction.

Damion Lee

The two-way guard, in his second season in that role with the Warriors, was diagnosed Tuesday with a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand. He is one of four players that played in each of the team's first 10 games.

“We’re hoping it’s just a few weeks,” Kerr said Tuesday.

Timeline for clearance: Undetermined. Barring complications, the second week of December is a reasonable expectation.

Alen Smailagic 

The 19-year-old forward, drafted in the second round, sustained a right ankle sprain on the first day of training camp. He wore a boot for several weeks, but now is rehabbing.

“Smailagic told me he dunked today, which is a good sign,” Kerr said. “He was excited about that, so his ankle is improving.”

Timeline for clearance: He could be cleared for contact over the next 10 days and conceivably be available late during the Nov. 17-22 road trip.

Omari Spellman 

The versatile forward/center was playing well, particularly on offense, before spraining his left ankle last Saturday at Oklahoma City. He did not play Monday night and did not practice Tuesday. So, according to Kerr, Spellman is doubtful to play on Wednesday.

Timeline for clearance: Probably Friday against the Celtics. If not, he’ll go on the four-game road trip that begins Sunday at New Orleans.

[RELATED: Kerr explains Draymond's 'really bizarre' reality on Dubs]

Klay Thompson 

The five-time All-Star sustained a torn left ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and underwent surgery on July 1. He is rehabilitating and occasionally engaging in light one-on-one shooting sessions.

Timeline for clearance: He’s expected to miss at least another four months. There is optimism he could return in March. It’s typical for a player to sit out at least eight months – or as much as a year – after such surgery.