Stephen Curry, the point guard of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and this year’s league MVP, has become famous for “putting defenders in blenders” with his unfounded quickness and amazing ball-handling skills, not to mention his crazy 3-point shots. Yet, despite his phenomenal abilities and success, Curry has become known for more. In his approach and character, Curry has done something altogether unordinary. He has preached a sermon on the court, one with some key points that we, as Christians, definitely need to hear.
Remember the Goal and Tune Out the Noise
With cameras clicking, Curry sat champagne-drenched, one arm draped around the illustrious golden basketball sporting his baby-faced grin, which seemed a little wider this night. The Warriors had just won the 2015 NBA Finals, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James in 6 games. “What’s your biggest lesson from the finals?” a journalist asked. The MVP replied confidently, “Tune out the noise.” But, really, that’s been the evident banner over his entire basketball career. Curry went on to talk about how stats don’t matter. The most recent headlines don’t matter. What really matters to him is the team and the win.
Three years ago, Curry was known for his twig-like ankles, both in circumference and durability, rather than his silky-smooth jump shot. In 2011-2012, he played only 26 games. Scouts described him as too small and too frail to play college ball. And after a celebrated career at Davidson, Curry heard the same feedback all over again. “You’re too small for the NBA.” What’s interesting about Curry, though, is that he never intended to stick it to the man or prove everyone wrong. The “splash brother” himself once said, “Everyone has opinions… All you can do is play your position, do what you can to help the team and continue to get better. You have to do yourself justice in that regard and not try to prove other people wrong.”
Curry’s approach serves as a helpful reminder to the Church. As Christians, often, we must never forget why we’re here and what we’re about, specifically our mission to make disciples in all that we do. We must put away all hindrances and obstacles in order to accomplish that mission (Heb. 12:1-3). There are so many things that can distract and detract us, but like Curry has with basketball, we must remember the goal and tune out the noise.
Creating Over Complaining
As the cameras snap shots of victory and champagne, they also have a knack for framing scowls and mouthed expletives. It is, after all, the NBA. Almost everyone complains, argues and whines when a call doesn’t go their way or a play doesn’t turn out the way it was drawn up. But that’s not typical Curry. Sure, he’s complained before. Sure, he’s not gotten back on defense before. But in an NBA culture where guys are caught complaining on one end while the man they’re guarding is tossing a lay-up on the other, Curry actually sprints back faster when he doesn’t appreciate a call.
In his book The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons talks about the need for the Church to rise above criticizing what they don’t like and rise to creating what they would like to see. In a post-Christian culture where many things don’t seem to go in our favor, it’s easy to use up our time and energy complaining about the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s easy to sit around thinking and talking about how the world is “in shambles” instead of going out and doing something about it.
As Christians, we need to be known more for what we're about than what we’re against. Instead of being a people who complain and criticize, we need to be known as a people who do something about the problems we see, a people who are quick to action and good works, a people who actually live as if we have the hope of the world, Jesus Christ, because we do. Like Curry, we need to consider how we can be creating over complaining.
Family Front and Center
This year, one of the most well-known images of Curry was when he brought his little daughter, Riley, to the podium for post-game interviews. In the post-season, it became uncommon to see Curry captured alone after a game. This family-first mentality has been critiqued and called unprofessional by basketball fans and media, but it sums up the person Curry is or, at the very least, the person he aspires to be. At one point this season, a reporter told him that he may just be the fourth most famous member of the Curry family, after footage of his mom, dad and daughter dominated television screens during Warriors games.
The fact is that Curry doesn’t put his career first. He chooses to make his family front and center night in and night out. When seeing his dad after winning the NBA championship, he wrapped him up and playfully said, "I'm in the family business." Even more, in talking to the media after the game, Curry went on to note that the most significant part of this accomplishment was the fact that he got to share it all with his family.
In the day-to-day trenches of ministry and the highs and lows of our careers, it can become easy to put our families on the backburner, even our spiritual families given that Jesus redefined family for the believer. It can be easy to let our successes and accolades trump the relationships that matter most in our lives. The final word from Curry here is to do the very opposite: to bring our families to the podium with us and to remember that, beyond our relationships with the Lord, family comes first and that we always lose when we sacrifice our families on the altar of success.
To be sure, Curry isn’t perfect. He doesn’t do or get everything right. That’s why we must be careful not to paint him as a superhero on top of the Golden Gate Bridge with a yellow and blue cape. With that said, as we’ve witnessed throughout his career so far, especially his road to the NBA championship, Curry is more than a great basketball player and one of the best shooters the league has ever seen. Shaped by his Christian faith, he is a man of character, humility and perseverance, and there is much we can glean from his sermon on the court.