I asked a lot of people about Stephen during my reporting for the Bleacher Report piece. Over email, I asked Claire, Class of 2010, and I loved what she wrote. I wanted to pass it along in full, and she said that was fine, so here it is:
What do people SEE in Stephen?
I can't tell you what other people see, but I can tell you what I see. This has resurfaced for me somewhat in the last few weeks with the lead-up to the All-Star Game, his many commercials, and through it all his continued consciousness about Davidson.
When I see Stephen Curry, I see a story. Not only that — I see a story that I watched unfold, from what feels like the beginning. The story is organic, personal, and deeply rooted. Even though our lives are made up of stories, Stephen Curry's story is the one that made me sit up and begin to realize my own. Watching his story, moment by moment, arcing up and up and up, also showed me just how intertwined all of our stories are — Stephen's intertwines with his teammates', and theirs with mine and yours and nearly everyone who has a connection to Davidson. Now, there are millions of others who count themselves connected to Stephen's story.
But we were first, and that is really what makes it special. On Saturday night, I caught a glimpse of a red No. 30 Davidson jersey hanging at the bookstore's stall in the back of Belk Arena. It was just hanging there, completely unassuming, no eyes on it. Eyes don't need to find it anymore — it is as known and expected and at home as all of us feel in that warm wooden bowl on a wintry night.
On the outside, our stories are all very different. But there are touchstones within all of our individual stories that we all hold, and Stephen helped create those touchstones.
Yes, it's about David conquering Goliath and the many who said he couldn't do it, the many who never even put his name in the conversation, blah blah blah. But it's also about the meaning of a place and its people, and the impact that can have on one life, and many.
When I see Stephen Curry win the NBA's three-point contest, I see Stephen Curry winning the three-point contest during Davidson's Night with the Cats.
When I see Stephen Curry starting in the All-Star Game, or any game, and hear his name called, I hear his name being called in Belk Arena.
When I see Stephen Curry make hilarious videos that make talk show hosts, YouTube and Twitter love him, I see Stephen Curry hosting the Davidson Show and interviewing freshmen about their first hours of orientation.
When I see Stephen Curry beam with joy and slap hands with Klay Thompson after a great play against the Spurs, I see Stephen Curry beam with joy and slap hands with Jason Richards after a great play against Gonzaga.
When I see Stephen Curry make a shot against the Lakers that no one is surprised he makes and I see him point heavenward, I see Stephen Curry make a shot against UNC Greensboro that no one expected him to make and I see him point heavenward.
It is that dichotomy, I think, that holds the classic elements of this story, the David and Goliath parts. But the other, more meaningful part of the dichotomy, at least to me, is that I never have to disconnect the two. Never do I have to say, "Oh, that Steph Curry. He's so successful in the NBA, a worldwide celebrity — wish he remembered where he came from."
He has come back for basketball games, for summer training, for his teammates' foundation fundraisers, for classes. He has lifted up his Davidson peers, his friends, current Wildcats, his Wildcat coaches. His new shoe line features a red and black shoe. When someone tweeted him a photo of a Davidson staff member holding up the first shoe arrivals at Davidson, he responded: "So much go[es] through my head looking at this picture!"
And perhaps that is the most important touchstone of all, more important than beating Elon or N.C. State or Wisconsin, more important than beating Cleveland or L.A. or Dallas: His Davidson experience matters to him, just as ours matter to us. It changed his life, and continues to, just as our Davidson experiences continue to change our lives. He has no qualms about it, never has, about lifting up the beginning of the story and what he gained from it. There is pleasure, and gratitude, and grace in his affirmation of a small North Carolina town and school and arena, where my husband and I returned this past weekend to be greeted by a familiar face or a voice calling our names everywhere we looked.
This is a place where we are all important, where we have all created our own stories and been part of each others'. That is where my pride in my Davidson Wildcats has always stemmed from: the stories we build together outside of the arena. Stephen Curry has built his stories in and out of it, unnoticed and on the front page. He shows thanks and humility for every chapter of his story. Because he can show this to the world, he is a touchstone for us, and for our place, Davidson.