OAKLAND — In the 19 days since he expressed zero interest in visiting a White House occupied by Donald Trump, Stephen Curry has seen the best and worst of America through the most accessible lenses we have.
“You should go look at my mentions,” Curry said Wednesday when I asked about the response to comments he made nearly three weeks ago.
“It’s pretty positive.”
Don’t get it twisted. Those last three words were basic sarcasm made transparent by Curry’s chuckle.
Yes, there was overwhelming support from fans, celebrities, Curry’s NBA brethren and athletes beyond basketball. But the two-time MVP, who also happens to be among the sports world’s most committed philanthropists, was subjected to waves of insults, anger and dissent.
Curry was referred to as, among other things, ignorant. He was described as a “millionaire punk” and as un-American. And, of course, he was labeled a racist.
Never in his eight-year NBA career has Curry, a devout Christian with a spotless image, been subjected to such blowback from a public that, for the most part, adores him and considers him a role model. Fans of opposing NBA teams aside, if you didn’t like, or at least, appreciate the human being that is Stephen Curry, you probably kicked puppies. Or carried a scowl and a torch.
Curry is acutely aware that his level on the global popularity meter generally ranged between ultrahigh and insane. No matter. Principles are at stake and he has more than a few. Which is why, even as an active player, Curry is walking a sociopolitical path Michael Jordan, the greatest sports legend of the past 25 years, wouldn’t dare.
Even as the face of a major sports apparel company (Under Armour) and an automobile brand (Infiniti), Curry is willing to alienate a segment of the marketplace.
“I’m well aware that, in this world, there’s no way you can please everybody and there’s no reason that you should want to,” Curry said. “I’m very comfortable understanding that, and not letting that affect my view or my stance.”
It was eight months ago that Curry described Trump as an ass. He was among the first group of athletes to speak out, unapologetically, against the man who was voted into office despite admissions of sexual assault, mocking the disabled, taunting POWs and urging his supporters to resort to violence.
It was 19 days ago that Curry said he didn’t want to go to the White House, a statement that prompted Trump to withdraw an invitation never delivered.
Curry has seen and heard plenty. He’s keenly aware of the ongoing conflict between Trump and the NFL, and he knows there is no end in sight. Curry’s promise to himself seems to be to stay consistent and on message, regardless of derisive or divisive reaction.
“Especially with the spotlight I’m under, and my teammates are under, and anybody who is in front of the public eye,” he said. “We’re kind of subject to that. You’ve got to not let that shake your confidence.”
So bring on the insults and the hate. Curry knows they’re coming. He isn’t going anywhere. He will continue to play basketball and use his platform to express his convictions. He has planted his flag, so to speak, and is prepared to stand by it.
“It’s usually the ones that want to speak out the most usually find me on there,” Curry said of social media platforms. “But I don’t pay ‘em no mind. The conversation is still going, and that’s a powerful thing. That’s what it’s all about.”