OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry isn’t exactly known for speaking his mind. In fact, a case could be made that he is as adept from beyond the three-point line as he is at avoiding controversy away from the court.
But Friday, as the defending champion Golden State Warriors held their media day and kicked off the 2017-18 NBA season, Curry not only doubled down on his stance that he has no interest in making the customary White House trip that comes with winning a championship, but also made clear why skipping the trip matters so much to him.
“That we don’t stand for basically what our president … the things that he said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right terms that we won’t stand for it. And by acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.
“It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion. You can talk about all the different personalities that have said things and done things, from [Colin] Kaepernick to what happened to [Michael] Bennett to all sorts of examples of what has gone on in our country that we need to kind of change. And we all are trying to do what we can, using our platforms, using our opportunities to shed light on that.
“ … I don’t think us not going to White House is going to miraculously make everything better … [but] this is my opportunity to voice that.”
Curry made it clear he wasn’t speaking for his entire team and noted that it still hasn’t been decided if Golden State will, in fact, skip the White House visit this season. The team is going to meet in the coming weeks and make a decision, which several players, Coach Steve Kerr and General Manager Bob Myers reiterated Friday. That has been the plan ever since last season ended, and Friday marked the first time all of them were in the same room since winning the title in June.
But when the man who signed the first $200 million contract in NBA history three months ago says he has no interest in going and won’t be changing his mind — an opinion echoed by Kevin Durant, among others — it’s hard to see a team meeting changing that.
What’s notable here is not only Curry being willing to speak about this forcefully, but to do so in a direct affront to President Trump, whose administration has proved to be about as divisive as any issue roiling the nation.
It’s a stark change from how Curry has historically comported himself. It’s also one that everyone, given the nature of the topic, will notice.
Curry — much like Derek Jeter, another superstar athlete with a pristine image — has always managed to deftly avoid such controversies. That doesn’t mean he has failed to be an example for others to follow; ask anyone who has ever been around Curry what they think of him, and the response will be a near-unanimous string of praise over the way he conducts himself at all times. But Curry has always led by example, not by his voice.
It seems, however, that Trump’s presidency has been the catalyst to change that. It began when Curry called out Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour — the company for which Curry has become the face — for saying Trump was a “real asset” to the company during a CNBC interview in February.
“I agree with that description,” Curry told the Bay Area News Group at the time, “if you remove the ‘et.’ ”
That might seem like a cute line. Coming from Curry, though, given his reticence about getting involved in such issues, it came with huge weight behind it. By the time he’d said it, he’d spent time on the phone with Plank and others at Under Armour, and the company quickly put out a statement explaining it was a diverse one that respects people from all walks of life.
It was a response caused, in no small part, by Curry’s reaction to Plank’s initial comment.
Fast forward to June, after the Warriors won their second title in three seasons. Rather than dodge the subject of whether he was willing to attend the White House then — something he easily could’ve done — Curry spoke his mind: If it was up to him, he said, he wouldn’t be making the trip.
He assured everyone in attendance Friday that nothing had changed.
“I don’t want to go,” Curry said. “That’s kind of the nucleus of my beliefs. [But] it’s not just me going to the White House. … If it was, this would be a pretty short conversation.”
And if that does turn out to be the Warriors’ decision, it won’t exactly be surprising. What is surprising, though, is Curry’s willingness to speak out — and speak loudly — on the subject.
It seems he has decided a different kind of example is now necessary.
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