CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No matter what Steph Curry does in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night, it’ll be hard to top what his mother did here Friday.
In a packed gymnasium at Carole Hoefener Center, in front of Charlotte’s mayor and North Carolina’s governor, Sonya Curry hit a halfcourt shot to win a family shootout.
When the basketball she flung with her right hand – almost like a bowling ball – fell through the hoop, Sonya Curry raced around the court and broke into a frenzied dance before accepting a championship belt.
What did Steph Curry have to say about his mom’s feat during a contest that included four teams that also featured Steph Curry’s brother, Seth, a sixth-year NBA player; and their father, Dell, the former NBA standout who retired in 2002 as the highest-scoring player in Charlotte Hornets’ history?
“I don’t know know because I was too busy running around,’’ Sonya Curry told USA TODAY Sports with a smile. “I haven’t even talked to him about the shot yet.’’
The Curry family gathered Friday to celebrate their refurbishing of the community center in honor of their Charlotte roots at the same time the All-Star Game is being played here. With support from partners such as Under Armour, Chase and the NBA Players Association Foundation, the project includes a computer lab, a new STEM education space and new locker rooms, along with the refurbished indoor gym and the “Curry Court,” as the basketball court has been named.
Steph Curry’s ties to Charlotte were documented in a short clip from a Facebook Watch series entitled Stephen vs. The Game, with six episodes set to air this spring. Steph Curry played at Charlotte Christian High School and played college basketball at nearby Davidson College before the Golden State Warriors picked him seventh overall in the 2009 draft.
“This is where he established his game,’’ said Gotham Chopra, the series’ director and head of film company “Religion of Sports.” “I think community is a big piece of Steph’s story. I think what we do with Religion of Sports, community is a big part. Bigger than sports, what does someone like him mean to this community?’’
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The affection between Curry and the community — represented at the community center by an energized crowd of about 500 people — was clear. After the family shooting contest, he officiated a basketball game involving eighth-graders and at one point grabbed an errant ball and, to the delight of everyone, jacked up a 3-pointer.
But his opening remarks were on target.
“This community has helped me because the man I am today, on and off the court,’’ said Curry, whose wife, Ayesha, and their three young children were in attendance. “…Charlotte will always be home.’’
Yet it was his mother whole stole the show when the action commenced.
“Actually, Dell and I were working out at Lifetime Gym the day before yesterday and he’s like ‘come in the gym and rebound for me,’ ’’ Sonya Curry said. “So then he was shooting halfcourt shots and I was shooting it the regular way and I was like, ‘I can’t get it anywhere. Hmm.’
“So I just flipped it (underhand) and the first time, I didn’t make it but it hit like right at the rim. I said, ‘Dell, I’m going to do this when we get up there.’ ”
She declared as much before the competition.
“Ayesha said, ‘You talk mad trash,’ ” Sonya Curry said with a laugh. “So when (the shot) actually went in, I said, ‘Oh, my Gosh. I cannot believe this.’ I think it was God’s blessing to me for this weekend.’’
For the record, Sonya Curry, who played volleyball in college, said it was the first time she has made halfcourt shot. But she took a modicum of credit for her famous son’s shot that came of age in this city.
“The most I kind of influenced that was this one time when he was just really, really frustrated because Dell had moved him in and wouldn’t let him move back until he was more consistent with his shot,’’ Sonya Curry said. “And so he got really frustrated because he wasn’t able to get to the free-throw line with the new shot. …
“One day he was outside and he was just tearing up and I went out and I was like, ‘Look, dude. You got two choices. And one is to stand out here and give up. Or two, keep trying and it’s up to you.’ And he just turned around and started shooting and that was the end of it.
“So I think with me, most of my role has been a lot of cheering them on and not coddling them, but cheering them on saying, ‘Hey, you can push through this. You can do it.’ ”