Stephen Curry’s head was clearly still spinning when he chatted with the media via conference call more than an hour after learning he will be an All-Star starter as the leading Western Conference backcourt vote-getter. He said he was going to celebrate with his family with a night at Benihana’s. Sounded like a typical Curry night out — low-key and family oriented. But watch out for those knives, Steph!
Here is the story I wrote on Curry’s reaction to learning what was pretty inevitable to the rest of us, and all the particulars of his achievement. — @stewardsfolly
OAKLAND — Warriors point guard Stephen Curry achieved a number of rare feats Thursday in being named to the NBA All-Star game’s Western Conference starting lineup, not the least of which was choking up his dad.
Dell Curry was a solid player for 16 years in the league but was never an All-Star. Hence, when the younger Curry hooked up with his father after receiving more than a million votes to lock down his first All-Star spot, it was a touching phone call.
“He’s not an emotional guy, but when I called him, I could tell his voice was a little shaky,” Curry said. “I could just tell how proud he was. He’s probably been thinking about it more than I have. The conversation was kind of short because he was really that emotional, more than I’d ever heard him.”
Even though his selection to the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans was pretty much a foregone conclusion, Curry said he was still nervous. He was taking nothing for granted when he tuned in with his wife, Ayesha, and daughter, Riley, to watch TNT’s “Tip-Off Show” to see if he’d made the West starting five.
“I saw Kobe (Bryant) come on the screen and knew the next person was going to be me or I was going to be left off that list,” he said. “When I saw my name, it was a real emotional kind of experience. I’m glad my wife and daughter were here to watch it with me, and then the phone calls started coming in.”
Curry received 1,047,281 votes, second in the West to Durant’s 1,396,294. LeBron James, voted to his 10th All-Star game, was the overall vote leader at 1,416,419. Indiana’s Paul George, another East starter, was the only other NBA player to receive more than 1 million votes. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and New York’s Carmelo Anthony filled out the Eastern Conference starting squad.
Curry, 25, also became the first Warriors player to lead his position in All-Star voting since Rick Barry led Western Conference forwards in 1976. Curry made a quantum balloting leap from last season, when he received just 169,083 votes and was subsequently snubbed as a reserve when many felt he was a deserving choice for the West squad.
So where did those nearly 900,000 more votes come from?
“The playoffs were huge, and we have the best fan base in the league, so once we got a winning product on the floor, they did what they did,” Curry said. “They supported this whole process, and to get over a million votes, it’s just crazy.”
Curry certainly has the credentials, having averaged 23.5 points, 9.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds this season, all career-high figures despite shooting career-low percentages from the field (44.2 percent) and from 3-point range (38.3 percent).
The only mystery now is who Curry’s backcourt mate will be on the West squad. A replacement almost certainly will be named for Bryant, who is recovering from knee surgery but was elected by fans to his 16th All-Star game, second-most in NBA history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 19). Bryant has said he doesn’t deserve to start, but Curry is hoping for some kind of miracle.
“Even if it’s just a cameo appearance, it would be really special to set up alongside Kobe in an All-Star game after having watched so many of his growing up,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision for him, but it’s definitely commendable that he’s noticing the young guys coming up in the league.”
Last year, David Lee became the first Warriors All-Star since Latrell Sprewell in 1997. Sprewell also was the last Warrior to be named a starter, in 1995.
Lee finished 10th in the frontcourt voting, while forward Andre Iguodala was eighth and center Andrew Bogut 15th. Klay Thompson was ninth in the final backcourt totals.
The reserves will be announced next Thursday.