Steph Curry is in good company.
The Warriors point guard cracked the top five of Dr. Anthony Fauci's list of his favorite athletes. Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy and Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle came in ahead of Curry, while Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer and two-time World Cup winner Mia Hamm were just behind the two-time NBA MVP.
"Steph Curry is amazing," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, said Thursday morning on ESPN's "First Take."
"His ability to shoot that basketball at 3-point range -- I mean, I was at a game right here in Washington, D.C. when they were playing the Wizards, and it was unbelievable. He was taking shots from a couple of feet past halfcourt. And he missed, like, one out of 15. It was amazing, so I've gotta go with Steph. He's one of the most exciting players ever."
Curry interviewed Fauci twice last year, first within the initial couple weeks of the coronavirus pandemic on Instagram Live, and again in October for his "State of Inspiration" series. Fauci was a captain and point guard for Regis High School in the 1950s, telling Curry that he was a speedy ball-handler who specialized in the two-handed set shot.
"I was pretty good, at what went well beyond the 3-point line now, where you would throw up a two-handed set shot," Fauci told Curry in October. "But the kind of jump shots you guys put up now, very few people were doing that back then. It was not that kind of game."
Fauci didn't specify when he watched Curry light it up at Capital One Arena, but it could've been any of his 10 trips. Curry has made 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers at the venue.
It might be a while before Fauci can next watch Curry in person, without a mask, in a sold-out arena. He told "First Take" on Thursday, as part of an interview marking the anniversary of the NBA suspending the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19, that there's still a long way to go before the United States goes back to "normal" life as it was before the pandemic.
"If we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated," Fauci explained, "and the level of infection -- namely, test positivity -- is very, very low, then we can start talking about not wearing masks. Right now, even though we're doing very, very well, the baseline of infections every day is between 50 and 60,000. That's extremely high. So even though things are getting much better, that's the reason we have to keep wearing masks."