Am Mittwochabend, während ich die das Champions-League-Spiel zwischen Gladbach und dem FC Sevilla (mein Kommentar bei Westline dazu) im Borussia-Park verfolgt habe, gab es eine Telefonkonferenz der NBA mit MVP Stephen Curry von den Golden State Warriors. Ich habe versucht, mich via Handy im Stadion einzuwählen – leider erfolglos. Das „NBA Medienoffice Deutschland“ hat den angemeldeten Journalisten aber eine Transkription des Gesprächs gemailt, das ich an dieser Stelle nun veröffentlichen darf. Ich gebe zu, ich bin ein Fan-Boy. Wichtig: Es ist nicht meine journalistische Leistung, sondern die der Kollegen.
Warriors guard and reigning Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry
(Global conference call transcript)
Mike Perrelli, NBA: Hello, everyone. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. We felt this would be a great opportunity for Steph and the Warriors to share with you some of the stories that we’ve seen here in the United States. It’s been great to watch and we hope that this call can shed some insight into what a great, great start to the season it’s been for Steph and his teammates. Last night, they became the first team in NBA history to start the season 16-0. So, congratulations on that accomplishment. Steph is going to start with an opening statement then we’ll jump to questions. Go ahead, Steph.
Steph Curry: Yes. I just wanted to thank everybody for joining the call. It’s an honor to represent myself and my teammates, the entire Bay Area, the entire Warriors organization and what we’re doing on the floor, and to be able to continue to grow the game not only here in the States, but across the world. I’ve been able to play in some great countries outside of the United States and had great experiences. So, it’s an honor to still have a presence internationally and I want to continue to grow that. So, thank you guys for helping that out.
— NBA (@NBA) November 25, 2015
Question: Hi, Steph. Happy Thanksgiving, first.
Steph Curry: Thanks very much.
My question is the basketball game has some basic rules like the closer you got the more points you got. But it looks like you guys are breaking those rules. Is it one of your goals that you want to tell people that the era is changing, the new generation is changing the NBA? If the answer is yes, what’s the new era stand for?
Steph Curry: That’s a great question. I think a lot of it is just the style of play that we’re comfortable playing. It’s very perimeter-oriented. A lot of people use the term “small ball” now with the lineups that we can throw out there on the floor. So, I’m sure it’s been done in the past, but I think our efficiency and obviously our record is kind of showing that it’s a very powerful lineup and a powerful way to play on the court. It’s turning a lot of heads.
So, we’re going to use our skill and our athleticism and our shooting and just the different lineups that we can throw out there to help us win games. And the three-point shot is definitely something that’s more prevalent now than it ever has been. I mean, at the end of the day, you still have to make shots so that’s what we’re about.
You guys are 16-0 and reaching records. But Luke Walton is not getting like the record credit. How much do you think that he’s responsible for the record you guys are achieving right now?
Steph Curry: A lot. We’re out there executing on the floor and we have a lot of chemistry and we’re trying to take our game to the next level from what we did last year. And everybody has a part in it, from the coaching staff all the way down to the 15th guy on the roster. So, everybody is locked in and focused.
And the system that Coach [Steve] Kerr implemented last year is the best thing that we pride ourselves on defensively and offensively. So, the message is still the same. Go out, play hard every night, and try to execute the style of play that we’ve established and hopefully good things happen. And, obviously, 16-0 is a good sign of that.
How much have you guys already spoken about this mythical 33-game streak of the Lakers and is it useful to keep setting yourselves challenges this season and defending your title goes on?
Steph Curry: Yes. That’s important to have like tangible goals that you can look at it and really work for. Obviously, for us, we do a great job of just staying in the moment. Nobody really talked about the 15-0 record until probably last week when we were around 12 wins, 11, 12 wins, because you can’t really get too far ahead of yourself. There’s so much that can happen in this league over 82 games. The great teams are the ones that can focus on each individual game.
So, we talk about 33. I think I’ve probably talked about it more than anybody else on the team, just because I know about the history and just really how hard it is. We’ve had like two 16-game winning streaks the last two years and those are pretty special feats. For us to have to double that output, I mean we’re going to play hard and hopefully close in on that record, but it won’t be a disappointing effort if we don’t get there. Because there are so many talented teams in this league and for us to just be playing at a high level right now that’s what we’re worried about. And if we close in and get to 29, 30 games, we’ll talk about it a little bit more.
I just wanted to ask you about Andrew Bogut. He’s running around there like his a teenager again after he’s lost that weight. And we’ve seen him hobbling on the court with some injuries. But, can you just talk about the work that he’s done in the offseason? And, after so many years in the NBA, he seems to have changed his game or he’s adapting to fit with you guys a lot better.
Steph Curry: He is focused. I mean, for a guy that has the history that he has with injuries — and some big catastrophic injuries, really; ones that kept him out for almost a year apiece. So, for him to be healthy and feeling good about his game, the way his body feels, he helps us. He makes us better when he’s healthy. So, he looks, like you say, he looks like a teenager out there running laps around other big men in the league, catching lobs, playing great defense, blocking shots. And it’s great to see.
He’s done some detail stuff with diet and his workout routine over the summer that he’s really proud of. I think one of them was getting rid of all the sugar in his diet. So, little stuff like that shows you how dedicated he is to being available for us and playing on a nightly basis. And we need that, over the course of 82 games, to be the team that we want to be.
What about your family for you? How important is your wife and your kids for you in your maturation as a player?
Steph Curry: They’re my support system and they’re the thing that is the most consistent part of my life. So, no matter how well I’m playing on the floor, making sure that they’re taking care of and that we’re growing as a family is definitely a huge part of my life.
So, my wife especially, obviously, with the schedule that we have as NBA players and the travel and just the amount of time that we’re in the gym, having a family is a lot of responsibility on her with two kids now. So, I appreciate all of the stuff that she does to allow me to play at a high level every night.
But they keep me in perspective. There’s more to life than basketball, and to be able to go through this journey with them and kind of share that with them, that’s special. And I’m sure any father in the league would say the same thing. To have their kids be able to grow up and watch them play the game of basketball and, obviously, for us, for the game of basketball to be able to support our families, that’s huge. I grew up in an NBA family. My dad played 16 years. And it’s very, very rewarding to see the other side of that process.
Your field goals have improved since last season. Does Steve Nash have something to do with that?
Steph Curry: A little bit. He’s been around for a week or so at a time, giving us some pointers in practice and things like that. I was really waiting for some more games to get under our belt to get some film so that we can sit down and watch it together and I can kind of see how he sees the game and decisions that he would make in certain — like the situations when I’m out there on the floor so that I can get a different perspective.
But we have had some one-on-one sessions where he’s given me a few pointers on how to play the pick-and-roll and how to find, be creative to find different shots. So, we’re still in the beginning process of our player, I guess you’d call it player-coach relationship, but he’s definitely going to be a valuable asset for us as we get into the main bulk of the season.
When people talk about the Warriors, the first person they talk about would be you and then Klay Thompson. But now I want to talk about Draymond Green. Can you talk about his role in your team and how much has his performance pushed your team? Thank you.
Steph Curry: Oh, he’s as important to the lineup as any other guy on the team because of all the different things that he can do on the floor. Whether it’s playing defense, rebounding, playmaking, getting everybody involved.
And he’s also the main voice of the team. I try to lead, in a certain style, by example and bring my effort every single night. I’ll talk a little it, but Draymond is kind of the spirit of the team and we kind of feed off his energy. So, he’s a huge asset for us. He’s improved his game every single year since he’s been in the league. And, now, it’s about just bringing that consistently every single night, like he does, and it’s just pretty fun to watch.
LeBron James and you have been compared to soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who is, in fact, one of the nominees, along with you, for the next Sports Illustrated Award. Do you think that you are kind of the Messi of the NBA right now or we should say that Messi is the Steph Curry of soccer?
Steph Curry: I don’t know — it’s like a chicken or the egg kind of conversation. We both have a creative style, where it’s just about a feel when you’re out on the pitch or the court. I try to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and kind of having a certain creativity and flair to my game.
And that’s definitely the style that Messi has when he’s out there in his matches. I love watching him play. I’m a big fan. And to see just a guy that you never know what he’s going to do at any particular moment — when he’s on TV, everybody is glued in because, as soon as he gets a touch with the ball, something special could happen. And you’ve got to appreciate that kind of talent.
I know you’ve done a lot of work for Africa with the Trees for Threes Challenge and Nothing but Nets. But, what I want to ask you about is you play with Festus Ezeli at the moment, who is of Nigerian descent. Do you feel that the NBA is almost suited for African players?
Steph Curry: Well, there’s definitely room for anybody with talent no matter where you come from. And, obviously, Festus is a prime example of that. His story, he went from Nigeria and playing collegiate basketball here and really learning the game of basketball and how it’s played and having an impact. And, now, he’s a prime-time center in the NBA.
I know there’s a lot of talent. I have a college teammate, Andrew Lovedale, who I used to play with at Davidson College, who is from Nigeria and does a lot of work with his foundation. It’s called A2S, Access to Success. And they run a lot of clinics in Nigeria, when he goes back in the summers. And there’s talent — he talks about it. It’s pretty unbelievable. So, it’s just about getting that opportunity. And I think you’ll probably see more and more players from all over, from African descent, that will be in the NBA, as years go on, because of that opportunity and that access and, obviously, they have talent to make it happen.
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? And whatever the answer is, did that mentality help you, or did that help you in the game?
Steph Curry: Can you repeat the first part?
Yes. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
Steph Curry: Oh, a perfectionist. I try to be, yes, for sure. I know I am not perfect on the floor. I know I’m not perfect in life. But I definitely hold myself to a high standard. Sometimes I have really good games statistically, with a lot of points, a lot of assists and what have you, but the first thing that I look at on a stat sheet is my turnovers. No matter how well I play, that’s kind of the first thing I think about, is try to figure out how I can get better. That’s definitely the perfectionist in me. No matter, if I score 50, if I have more than like three turnovers and they were some bad turnovers, I’d kind of be disappointed in myself. I’m always trying to get better and strive for that perfect game. I haven’t played it yet. So, maybe one day I will.
You’re such a humble person and your character always reminds me of Dirk Nowitzki. Do you see any parallels between him and you?
Steph Curry: Yeah, I mean, we both rely on our jump shot to really make us a great player. He’s obviously got eight inches on me, and has been playing this game for a very, very long time at a very high level. He’s obviously a champion. He’s a guy I always liked watching growing up, but obviously I don’t have the certain, I guess, style of play because of our height and our position. But definitely the way we shoot the ball — you’ve got to have touch, you’ve got to have creativity, balance. I’ve actually taken some of his drills that I know he works on to practice his shot and implemented them into my workouts and things like that. So, I would say probably the two guys that nobody really thought would be NBA champions, and we both have that to our name now.
You guys have elevated what’s known, or what’s become known, as small ball. Now coming from a country like India, where people with the necessary physical attributes for NBA or basketball in general aren’t abundant, do you think that us and similar countries should adopt that kind of style, and what advice would you give in that regard?
Steph Curry: Yeah, I mean, it’s about being skilled. Obviously, I’m not the most physically dominant person out there. I’m 6-3, 185 pounds soaking wet, and you try to just be able to do a lot of different things on the court. Being able to dribble with both hands, being able to shoot the ball from inside and outside. Holding your own at the defensive end, and you’ve got to have heart. That’s the biggest thing that we show and demonstrate every night, with our small-ball tenacity, and the way we go out. It doesn’t really matter, really, the next guy if he’s taller than me, if he’s stronger than me, if he’s faster than me. If I have that will and heart to compete, I think more times than not, you’ll be successful. So, there is a lot of opportunity in the game of basketball for the shorter guy, and if there wasn’t, I wouldn’t be in this league.
Congratulations on your start. How exciting to be breaking those sort of records, but as you said at the beginning of this conference, it is a long season. Even though you’re in your prime, given how important you are to the Warriors, can you say that you may well be rested a bit later on this season if the success is to continue like this, and would you resist that sort of request?
Steph Curry: Yeah, we were in that situation last year. I think we had already eclipsed like the 60-win mark by April and we were trying to kind of balance staying sharp and building that chemistry as we go through the last two weeks of the season, even maybe before that, and trying to figure out, how to handle that, and Coach Kerr did a great job of managing the rotation the whole year and keeping minutes down. And, obviously, we had a lot of games where some of the starters didn’t even play the fourth quarter. I think I missed like 17 last year, so we’ll see how it goes. Obviously, there are 66 games [left], a lot could happen, but if we take care of our business, we want to make it as easy as possible on ourselves as we go down the stretch of the season so we’re not fighting for seeding and having to go all out as we gear up for the playoffs. It’s really just about taking advantage of the opportunity we have with this great start and being as sharp and as rested and as fresh as we can for the first round of the playoffs.
Are you looking forward to coming here to Brazil and play the Olympic Games next year, and how would it be to play alongside LeBron James here in Rio?
Steph Curry: What was the last part of that question? I’m sorry.
How would it be to play alongside LeBron James here in Rio?
Steph Curry: I’m definitely excited to be part of the Olympic team. To have that experience in Rio for the Olympics will be a dream come to true to one, play in the Olympics, and two, return back — I went to Rio for vacation with my family when I was 18, so we spent a week down there, had a great time. But to go back and represent my country, play with all the other great NBA talent that’s going to make up the Team USA roster, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’ll be here before you know it, really. That’s the cool part. Our season is pretty long and after, hopefully, we’re in The Finals and celebrating another championship, we’d have three weeks to refresh and get ready for Rio, which, the culture down there, the sights, and just the whole Olympic experience should be a once-in-a-lifetime memory.
First, congratulations to a historic start. You just talked about Dirk Nowitzki. He’s 37 years old and he’s playing great. What do you think about his performance at this stage of his career, and where do you see yourself at the age of 37?
Steph Curry: Well, hopefully I’m still playing, and hopefully I’m still making shots like he is. He’s a big reason why they’re, I think, what, third in the Western Conference right now. He’s turning the clock a little bit, which is pretty cool to see. Hopefully he does that for 78 games this year, and not 82. We play them four times. He’s a legend and a future Hall of Famer that I think is definitely taking advantage of how many years he has left in this league to make an impact, and that’s what great players do. So, I look forward to getting back on the floor with him whenever we play Dallas and seeing him play.
Your improvement from last year to the current year has been so impressive. Of course, coming off an MVP year and with the improvement, it makes it just so much more notable. It is early, but Harrison Barnes did say last week on ESPN’s „NBA Countdown“ that he expects you to win the MVP and the Most Improved Player. What are your thoughts on that comment?
Steph Curry: Well, that’s a goal. I mean, obviously, the formula for it last year was – it just starts with winning, and starts with hopefully leading my team every single night, playing at a high level. Statistically, I don’t know what that will mean at the end of the season, if those numbers will look better than they did last year or whatnot, but I definitely feel like I’m a better player than I was last year, more efficient. We, as a team, are definitely better than we were last year, so we’re just trying to manage that for 66 more games and the rest of that will take care of itself. It was a dream come true to win one MVP, win one championship, but that fuels the fire to do it all over again. I know the process — you want to just stay in the moment as best you can, and that’s how you stay focused, that’s how you stay within yourself, and we’ve done a great job of that so far.
You have invested in sports technology products, such as CoachUp, and your teammate Andrew’s investment was already successfully purchased by eBay. What I’m wondering is, would you team up with some of your teammates in business areas in the future?
Steph Curry: Umm, yeah, I mean, I’m personally very interested in and have started some deals and some ventures with some of my team, but I think every player has an opportunity to get into really whatever field they want to. Basketball, the NBA, opens so many doors. I’ve had old teammates that are in different cities and different teams now that – real-estate deals, technology deals, all sorts of areas where they’re trying to branch out, outside of basketball. It’s fun to watch and fun to see, especially in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, and just a wave of technology that’s out here as well. So for us, the Warriors, it’s right in our backyard, so why not take advantage of those opportunities and connect with people that are doing this day to day and seeing what happens.
As a reigning MVP, are the pressures of expectation and maybe the on-court responsibilities, have they increased?
Steph Curry: There is pressure; there is more of a spotlight. I think the biggest thing we’ve learned so far is that every game we play, no matter what team, what the team’s record is, how they’ve been playing leading up to our game, we’re going to get the team’s best shot, because they want to dethrone the champs. Whether it’s to come into Oracle and get a win, or protect their home court against the Warriors, it’s a big deal, so if we’re not on our game, it’ll show really quickly, because it’s a big game every time we play. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, obviously; it challenges us to be ready every single night. We can’t coast through any game. We can’t just show up and expect just because the Warriors are here, that we’re going to get a win. We really have to do something about it.
And then just every player individually has a higher spotlight, brighter spotlight, than they did last year, because we’re the champs and people want to know what we’re up to, they want to kind of stay attached as they can to our story. We’ve got to embrace that because it’s a great spot to be in. Winning is fun, and whatever comes with that we can appreciate it.
Hey, Steph, thanks for having us. About eight years ago, you had a game against Oklahoma, you had 44 points against Blake Griffin. We’ve seen so much for you since then. We talked about it here, league MVP, NBA championship, passing your dad [on the all-time three-point list], your recent arrivals as a father and a player. Can you talk about how your concept of hard work has changed since then, since 2008, as a student, when you were just playing, really, I mean, it was for a career, but it was more for fun. Now, so much more involved off the court, extracurriculars, family. How has that concept changed for you? What do you try to do on a daily basis to show that you’re changing and growing as a player and a person?
Steph Curry: Well, that’s a great question. My experience at Davidson really, really prepared me for not only just playing in the NBA and having total control over your play on the court, family life, off-court opportunities and branding and stuff like that, but just, like you said, time management, keeping priorities straight, all that stuff. We were challenged at Davidson, because it’s such a rigorous academic institution, as well as trying to be great D-I athletes and have success at a D-I level. So, really, the amount of work that we had to put in at Davidson might be actually harder than now in the NBA. Obviously, all I’m worried about doing on a day-to-day basis is basketball, and there’s more time, more free time. Actually, with the family and kids, it’s kind of a little different now, but it’s just about keeping priorities straight. No matter how successful you are on the court, there are great opportunities that you can tap into. Like this summer, after we won the championship, you want to celebrate and take the trophy everywhere, and the sponsorship deals and shoots and things that had to take up the whole summer, but all the while, I had to work on getting better, so I had my trainer travel with me. You just have to make certain decisions that are right for you and handle the situation accordingly. It’s a great challenge. Every year is different, and you obviously continue to get better and learn and not be afraid to ask questions of guys that have done it before you, which helps you be prepared for whatever is coming your way.
Mike Perrelli: Steph, Mike Perrelli here. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We wish you luck the rest of the way, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Steph Curry: All right, I appreciate it, guys. Thank you very much for the questions.
(Die Mitschrift vom Interview wurde den Journalisten vom NBA Medienoffice Deutschland zur Verfügung gestellt // Foto Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)