Warriors' Steph Curry cements himself as social justice leader in NBA

Warriors' Steph Curry cements himself as social justice leader in NBA

Steph Curry stood on a makeshift stage on the campus of Howard University on Monday afternoon to announce his latest venture. 

Over the next six years, the Warriors star will fund the university's golf program, helping the Bison field a Division I team for the first time in school history. The commitment is expected to revitalize both the men and women's programs at the historically black university. 

Throughout his career, Curry has been supplanted in the national conversation by LeBron James and others as the basketball leader of social change. But in recent years, the six-time All-Star has become among the leaders on a variety of issues. With his latest contribution to the historically black institution, Curry is proving why he should be among the leading NBA voices in social justice. 

The guard's relationship with the university started in January, when Curry hosted a screening of Emanuel - a documentary about the Emanuel AME Church shooting that he produced. Curry's latest contribution to the university includes a seven-figure endorsement to the golf program that will be paid out in installments to give Howard time to raise an endowment fund to make the golf program self-sustainable. 

"This is one of the most generous gifts in the history of Howard University," athletic director Kery Davis said.

Curry's contribution to Howard is historically on-brand. The opening of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) started in the 1800s as more of a necessity for blacks. With African Americans barred from attending white schools, black churches -- with the help of the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen’s Bureau -- helped build and advance a black education. From 1861 to 1900, more than 90 black colleges were established, including Howard in 1867. Now, more than 150 years later, Curry, a black man, is helping advance the university through sports.

Prior to Curry's involvement, Howard fielded a Division II team that was discontinued in the 1970s. With Curry's financing, the Bison men's team will play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, while the women will play as independents. In addition, the teams will be outfitted by Under Armour -- the shoe company Curry endorses -- and will have three scholarship athletes, an idea that was born on the night of the January premiere. 

"The idea around re-creating Howard's golf team and turning it into a Division I program for men and women was born on that specific night," Curry said. "Now, seven and a half or eight months later, we're here."

For the last half-decade, James has been at the forefront of the NBA's social justice conversation. In 2014, days after black teen Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Florida by George Zimmerman, James -- along with his Miami Heat teammates -- posted a picture in team-issued hoodies. Two years later, standing beside Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, James opened the ESPYs by condemning police brutality. Recently, James has put his money behind change, opening the I Promise school in Akron, OH. Before last season, James even defended Curry on Twitter, calling President Donald Trump a "bum" after Trump "disinvited" the Warriors from the White House after they won the 2017 title. 

While James has been (correctly) celebrated for his actions, Curry has been putting together a portfolio of his own. The guard has been a part of former President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative aimed at addressing "persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential." Just before last season, Curry raised more than $21,000 for the family of Oakland native Nia Wilson, who was stabbed to death at a BART station. 

Even before his actions against social change were public, seeds of Curry's activism were beginning to manifest. Before Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series against the Clippers -- during the Donald Sterling saga -- Curry was among a group of players ready to boycott a game if the owner wasn't banned by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. 

"I remember everybody talking like if Adam Silver don't come down with a tough enough post and we don't think it's right, we're not playing tonight," Warriors forward Draymond Green said.

Added former Warrior Andre Iguodala: "If it came to it, I think we were ready. We were willing and ready."

Curry's absence from James' stature may be his own doing. While marketed as a clean-cut, baby-faced player that appealed to children, Curry's voice noticeably was absent when he gave a PC answer when asked about a North Carolina bathroom bill that discriminated against transgender people, drawing the ire of LGBT groups. 

Ironically, Trump might be simultaneously both the uniting force and a call to action players like Curry needed to grow their voice. Two weeks after Trump was inaugurated, then-Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said that the President could be an "asset" to the United States. Curry then joked that said he agreed with the notion, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset, even saying he'd reconsider his deal 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 told The Mercury News in 2017. “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.”

[RELATED: Warriors were ready to boycott game after Sterling tape]

Twenty-one months ago, Curry's former teammate Kevin Durant sat along the north baseline of the Warriors practice facility and openly pondered his identity as a black man in this country 

"Finally waking up, to be honest," Durant said. "Just kind of seeing how rough it is for an average black man."

"I see how far we get pushed down. For me, I kind of grew up in this basketball world, whereas my talent kind of overrides what I look like."

Like Durant, Curry took time to find his voice. And now, after yet another contribution, he should be among the NBA's faces for social justice. 

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Good news. The four Brooklyn Nets players who had tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) are now free from symptoms.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Wednesday during a conference call with reporters that all members of Brooklyn's traveling party had completed a two-week quarantine. Even so, they will continue to abide by social-distancing guidelines.

"As it pertains to the team," Marks said (via ESPN's Malika Andrews), "I sense -- like all of us, like the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe -- we're trying to deal with this as best we can."

The Nets were scheduled to face the Warriors at Chase Center in front of no fans on March 12, but the NBA indefinitely suspended the season the previous night after two Utah Jazz players became the first in the NBA to test positive for the coronavirus. Upon returning to Brooklyn from San Francisco, the Nets paid a private company to test the team for COVID-19, which revealed that four players had tested positive.

Of those four players, three were asymptomatic. According to Marks, however, the lone player exhibiting symptoms has since recovered.

Former Warrior Kevin Durant admitted he was one of the four Nets to test positive for the coronavirus. He hadn't played all season while recovering from a torn Achilles, and was already ruled out for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign. While Durant might have some extra time on his hands these days, it's possible that the season being indefinitely paused could delay his return to game action.

The same goes for Brooklyn point guard Kyrie Irving, who underwent shoulder surgery on March 3. Though they are able to continue their respective rehabilitations, they obviously don't have access to the practice facility, which could slow the process.

"I couldn't give an answer on when they'll play this season," Marks said. "I don't think it's fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger, far more pressing things."

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

Marks insisted he would have a better idea of each player's respective timeline in another three weeks to a month, when he hopes to have more clarification about the NBA's plans to resume the season.

Of course, there's no guarantee that will happen, either.

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Warriors players can't go to Chase Center to work on their game while the NBA season is indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

They can't use the team facilities to ride the bike, or hop on the treadmill or use the elliptical.

And not everybody has exercise equipment at home.

But those who do have been able to work out together ...

... virtually.

Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal has the details:

(Steph Curry) does have a Peloton bike at home. As it turns out, he’s not the only one: The Warriors have been going for a group ride in the morning.

The invitation goes out on a Slack group -- Curry admits to skipping one class because he didn’t see the message -- and then a maniacally competitive bicyclist named Draymond Green attempts to destroy everyone around him, according to a person familiar with the rides.

“In the Tour de Warriors,” Curry said, “I’m above average, but I’m not on the podium yet. I have to figure out how to get there. There’s always something to shoot for.”

It's not a surprise to hear that Draymond is competitive during these sessions, as he has been a regular at SoulCycle for quite some time.

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

“You walk out feeling sweaty, feeling good like you got a workout in, but it doesn’t put much strain on the body," the three-time NBA champion told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke about one year ago. "Sometimes it’s good to get away from the game of basketball or the typical weight room.

“You’re working out with a different group of people, you’re all on rhythm, trying to stay on the beat with each other. When you add music to a workout, it’s fun. I do it a lot with my fiancée, and we have a good time. We sit next to each other. She’s really good at it.”

As for Steph -- knowing how competitive he is, don't be surprised if we learn that he wins the "Tour de Warriors" on the regular very soon.

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