DANICA AND ANNIKA
may sound like a Saturday Night Live duo on the order of Hans and Franz, but
during a midsummer night in Los Angeles they induced schoolboy panic in
Davidson guard Stephen Curry, the baby-faced breakout star of March Madness.
When Danica Patrick and Annika Sorenstam, glammed-up for the ESPY Awards,
stepped into his hotel elevator on their way to the show, they instantly
recognized their fellow nominee and said hello. Betraying little of the
cold-blooded shooter who lit up Gonzaga, Georgetown, Wisconsin and Kansas for
128 points during the NCAA tournament, Curry melted like, well, a starstruck
"Here are two
great-looking ladies I'd seen on TV," says Curry, a five-handicap golfer
who'd admired Sorenstam for years. "But I started stuttering because I was
all nervous. My dad was laughing at me."
Welcome to the
new life of Wardell Stephen Curry II—or simply Steph, if you'd like—who still
can't grasp that now he's one of them. After deciding against turning pro so he
could prove his bona fides as a point guard, the 6'3", 182-pound Curry
returns for his junior season with his size-14 feet planted in two worlds. In
one he plays for Davidson, a small Southern Conference school in a North
Carolina town so old-fashioned that students gather at The Soda Shop on Main
Street. In the other he visits New York City to appear on Late Night with Conan
O'Brien. In one he snaps surreptitious fan-boy photos of Super Bowl MVP Eli
Manning eating breakfast at a buffet in L.A. In the other he's fast friends
with his new supporter, LeBron James, who made a special trip to Detroit's Ford
Field to see Curry play in the tournament.
basketball, and I'm a fan first," says James, who also hung out with Curry
at James's skills camp in July. "Anytime you get an opportunity to see
somebody who's very talented, you want to reach out to them. I'm looking
forward to seeing him more this year and welcoming him to the league next
Nobody would have
expected that endorsement three years ago, when Curry was a 6-foot, 160-pound
senior at Charlotte Christian School who didn't receive any scholarship offers
from major-conference schools. (The snubs included one by Virginia Tech, where
Curry's father, Dell, set the career scoring record before embarking on a
16-year NBA career.) But the big boys' loss was Davidson's gain. Under coach
Bob McKillop, Curry set an NCAA freshman record for three-pointers (122), and
as a sophomore he was the nation's fourth-leading scorer (25.9 points per
game). But that was only a prelude to the storybook run last March, when the
10th-seeded Wildcats knocked off the champions of the West Coast, Big East and
Big Ten conferences and came within a missed buzzer-beater of toppling Kansas,
the eventual national champ, and reaching the Final Four.
Sonya, can't forget her own shock after Davidson's comeback from a 17-point
deficit against Georgetown. As her son turned to look at her in the stands and
shrugged, "It hit me: He was truly that good," says Sonya, who became a
favorite of CBS cameramen. "We'd heard so much about how he needed to be
bigger. But then he made those shots and looked at me, and I thought, What in
the world is going on?"
Curry's 13-year-old sister, Sydell, told Dell, a former NBA Sixth Man of the
Year, "Stephen made you famous again."
ONLY THREE of the
six ceiling fans are functioning on a boiling July afternoon in the upper gym
of Roanoke College. The youngsters at this small basketball camp in Salem, Va.,
are getting a special treat: Their celebrity counselor, Steph Curry, is playing
in a five-on-five scrimmage. Working at quarter-speed on a small-fry defender
who's wearing a T-shirt bearing his autograph, Curry throws a pass that sails
over a teammate's head. "C'mon, man!" jokes a fellow counselor.
"He's 4-foot-2 with a two-inch vertical!"
Over the summer Curry attended high-profile camps hosted by NBA
A-listers—James, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash—but here in a sweltering
gym in the glitz-free Shenandoah Valley he's in his element. "I used to
come to this camp when I was in fourth through sixth grade, but this is the
first year I've worked it," says Curry, who spent two weeks at the camp run
by Page Moir, the respected coach of Division III Roanoke. "It's cool to be
at the other end of the experience."
unassuming nature is of a piece with the Davidson Way. A college of 1,700
students 23 miles north of Charlotte, Davidson is the kind of place where
almost nobody locks their doors, and (shock of shocks) the basketball players
take all of their classes with the rest of the undergrads. "If you had a
roster of every student, I probably would know a little something about each
one of them," Curry says. "After a game we'll go to the student union
and just walk around. Everyone will be talking about the game, and it's not
random people you've never seen on campus. You know their names. That's a