Stars Walker, Curry share deep ties to Char­lotte

NBA All-Star Game starters Kemba Walker and Stephen Curry share deep ties to Char­lotte and the ben­e­fit of great par­ent­ing.

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY RICK BON­NELL rbon­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Kemba Walker has al­ways viewed him­self as the Every­man ath­lete. His Satur­day to-do list re­flected that:

Find the boss (Char­lotte Hor­nets owner Michael Jor­dan) a birth­day card.

Tell some out-of-town col­leagues (all those other All-Stars) where to eat (Nakato, a Ja­pa­nese steak­house).

Grab a nap be­fore the evening com­pany func­tion.

OK, Satur­day was a bit out of the or­di­nary. For the first time in his eight-sea­son NBA ca­reer, Walker was an All-Star starter and All-Star Week­end is in his adopted home­town, where he’s spent all eight of his pro sea­sons.

Walker was pre­pared for all sorts of ques­tions from his fel­low All-Stars about Char­lotte. He had a fall-back plan in the event he couldn’t field some­thing.

“I mean, they can al­ways ask Steph!” Walker told a cir­cle of re­porters Satur­day morn­ing at Bo­jan­gles’ Coli­seum.

“Steph” is Stephen Curry, who might not tech­ni­cally be a na­tive (born in Ohio when his dad, Dell, played for the Cleve­land Cava­liers in the 1987-88 sea­son), but who is as Char­lot­tean as they come. Curry rein­vig­o­rated David­son bas­ket­ball be­fore go­ing on to be a two-time NBA Most Valu­able Player with the Golden State War­riors. Now he’s among the big­gest stars in the NBA, but not too big to spend Fri­day back on cam­pus, cheer­ing David­son on against Saint Joseph’s.

Walker and Curry will start to­gether in the back­court for the

team Mil­wau­kee Bucks for­ward Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo drafted in Sun­day’s All-Star Game at Spec­trum Cen­ter. It struck me that what those two share, be­yond a gift for play­ing point guard, is the ben­e­fits of great par­ent­ing.

DIF­FER­ENT BACK­GROUNDS, SIM­I­LAR MES­SAGE

I’ve spent a lot of time around Walker and Curry, Stephen start­ing when he was a small boy. They both nav­i­gate fame with grace. They both un­der­stand they are ex­cep­tional at some­thing that en­ter­tains and is ex­tremely lu­cra­tive. The dif­fer­ence be­tween them and some oth­ers of their stature is nei­ther thinks he is above the world that sur­rounds him.

I’ve seen Steph eat­ing Chick-fil-A at the stu­dent cen­ter at David­son with for­mer class­mates. I’ve seen Kemba walk around SouthPark Mall like a teenager. They like be­ing nor­mal folk when it’s pos­si­ble. I’m not say­ing their lives haven’t changed or they aren’t more wary of their sur­round­ing or pro­tec­tive of their pri­vacy. But they haven’t se­questered them­selves from the rest of so­ci­ety.

Nei­ther one is a diva.

Kemba has told me he’s some­what un­easy with fame for just that rea­son; he doesn’t want it chang­ing him for the worse. His par­ents raised him in the Bronx to be proud, but not haughty. When ev­ery­one else was pump­ing up his bas­ket­ball per­for­mances in high school, his fa­ther pointed out flaws. Not in a dis­cour­ag­ing way, but in a man­ner that pro­vided bal­ance and hu­mil­ity, that drove him at Con­necti­cut and be­yond.

Walker’s par­ents didn’t have a lot fi­nan­cially, but they al­ways pro­vided for Kemba and his sis­ter. Kemba told me his par­ents’ be­hav­ior taught him work ethic. He’d see them troop off to pro­vide for the fam­ily, even when sick, in a way that kept him from ever whin­ing about some bas­ket­ball drill.

The Walker fam­ily didn’t be­long to a coun­try club, but there was a Boys and Girls Club, where Kemba could play ball and swim and bowl and do his home­work.

AD­VAN­TAGES, NOT IN­DUL­GENCES

Ob­vi­ously, the Curry fam­ily had it bet­ter fi­nan­cially, thanks to Dell’s 16-sea­son NBA ca­reer. The re­sources were there so that Steph and his two sib­lings - brother Seth (now a Port­land Trail Blazer and in Satur­day night’s 3-point con­test) and sis­ter Sy­del - could have been spoiled brats. My view of those kids - and I saw them a lot - was just the op­po­site: They were raised to be re­spect­ful, po­lite and kind.

Sonya Curry did a great job in those years after Dell fin­ished with the Hor­nets, oversee­ing the kids while Dell con­tin­ued play­ing in Mil­wau­kee and Toronto. The ex­am­ple I saw was, “Have con­fi­dence and pride - stick up for your­selves - but don’t indulge your­selves.”

I thought Steph’s coach at David­son, Bob McKil­lop, ar­tic­u­lated that well when he said Steph knows when it’s time to be hum­ble and when it’s time to be ar­ro­gant. McKil­lop could just as eas­ily have been de­scrib­ing Kemba.

GOOD EGO, BAD EGO

Ego is not in­her­ently bad. It is im­pos­si­ble to reach great­ness, par­tic­u­larly in a fo­rum as com- pe­t­i­tive as the NBA, with­out it.

Ego is cor­ro­sive only when it blinds judg­ment and puts up walls from the rest of the world.

Two sets of par­ents in very dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions got that mes­sage across. The Walk­ers and Cur­rys get to sit back Sun­day night and watch the re­wards right here in Char­lotte, USA.

DAVID T. FOS­TER III dt­fos­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

NBA All-Stars Stephen Curry and Kemba Walker have fun as they cel­e­brate a shot by a team­mate dur­ing prac­tice at Bo­jan­gles’ Coli­seum in Char­lotte on Satur­day. Curry and Walker, who both have ties to this city, will be start­ing in the back­court to­gether on Sun­day.

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Char­lotte Hor­nets guard Kemba Walker, right, leans down to hug chil­dren along the base­line at Bo­jan­gles’ Coli­seum in Char­lotte dur­ing All-Star Game prac­tice for Team Gian­nis. Walker has spent all eight of his NBA sea­sons with the Hor­nets and Bob­cats.

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