Stephen Curry is building an ecosystem. Some would call it an empire with a foundation built on Curry's run as one of the best players in NBA history. "I think if you see everything that I do, there's a rhyme or reason for it," Curry says of his growing brand. "And I think that connecting the dots, you call it the empire, I call it the ecosystem, of everything that we have going on, that it's all about amplifying the platform for impact." The three championships and two MVP awards back up that statement. So does the title of "best shooter ever." The list of accolades goes on and on, but as Curry enters his 12th NBA season, he's looking to build his ecosystem.
Enter the launch of the his Curry Brand backed by Under Armour, which is a purpose-led performance brand with a mission to ensure every young person has equitable access to sport. This is as rare as it gets for an athlete on this level. Curry is elevating to a different plane that is only occupied by a few in the footwear and apparell world—most notably, Michael Jordan. That's how rare the air is that Curry now breathes and occupies. But still, for Curry, this is about giving back to the youth and building Curry Brand brick by brick.
On the court, Curry is heading into the upcoming NBA season facing immense expectations, even in the wake of Klay Thompson's devastating Achilles injury that will force Curry's Splash Brother to miss another season. While the Warriors reloaded with the additions of No. 2 draft pick James Wiseman and Kelly Oubre via trade, the fate of Golden State will rest on Curry. He's the franchise. An all-time great. The constant force behind one of the most successful teams in recent NBA history who is ready to remind everyone what time it is—even if you didn't actually forget.
We talked to Curry about this upcoming season, his plans for the Curry Brand, the loss of Thompson, hanging out with Drake, a rivarly with LeBron James, and much more.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Athletes getting their own brand under their name is very rare. What does it mean to you to be able to launch Curry Brand?
It's kind of surreal for sure, but it's amazing, man. It's dope. It's one of those situations I've never really imagined being in this kind of position, but having the opportunity to take a partnership with UA for the last seven years and the commitment and the community that we've had and leverage a platform that has led to such an amazing opportunity for impact and living out a purpose that I feel like I've been leaning into for a very long time in terms of how can I truly make a difference with the blessings and the resources and the opportunity that I have, and that has all baked into what Curry Brand is about. The brand is about finding people that are looking out for the person to their left and to their right. They feel a responsibility and a mission to do good in the world, no matter what it is. We found an opportunity to be very specific about the impact we want to have, especially in the world of youth sports, and truly making a difference there. So I think it's crazy to think, from 2014 when I got my first shoe and now how much has happened, how much I've grown and the people that I have around me that are a part of this mission with me.
Have you thought about how rare it is? Guys just don't get these types of things.
No doubt. I mean, obviously the Jordan comparison is one that's at the forefront. But this version is different. It's me, it's 2020, it's a whole 'nother kind of approach to it. But to your point, it's one of those where you take the opportunity and you run with it. And I want to be successful, I want this to be around for a very long time. And I know how hard it is in this business, I know how much work it takes, but we're ready for it.
When someone says Curry Brand, what do you want them to think of?
The Curry Brand, I want it to be known as an opportunity to do good, and to buy into something and to participate in a brand that's mission is achieving success and being the hardest workers in the room. But also being mindful of our place in society, and understanding that we all have an opportunity to give back in whatever your passion is. But also, that you're not alone in that pursuit. And I think we need as much positivity and joy and optimism, more so than ever. And that is something that I try to live out every single day. Curry Brand would be another expression of that, especially as we talk about changing the game for good as the tagline, but it truly means thinking outside of the box of how you leverage the pursuit of success, and living out the purpose of impact in the next generation, so that they can have the experiences that they deserve as well. So I'm excited about what that's going to mean over the course of this journey, and hopefully that people, again, of like-mind and of the same understanding of their place in this earth, that they live it out to.
What's the next step in the Curry empire? Where do you go from here?
I think if you see everything that I do, there's a rhyme or reason for it. And I think that connecting the dots, you call it the empire, I call it the ecosystem, of everything that we have going on, that it's all about amplifying the platform for impact. And so when it comes to Curry Brand and how we're in a pursuit to say play, and being able to support youth sports and participation and resources that are lended towards underserved and underprivileged communities, especially obviously in my backyard in Oakland, but across the country. That aligns extremely well with my foundation with my wife [Ayesha] what what she does and what we've set out to do in that same vein. And I still have a lot to do on the court, and that's obviously my focus and what I want to accomplish, but this impact that I have from on court success to off, is setting up a long runway of opportunity and impact that it's not just about me.
Has your mindset shifted going into this season, especially with the Klay injury news? Do you feel more pressure right now than before?
Not really. I don't think pressure has ever been a part of the conversation when I start a season or anything like that. When it comes to our whole narrative since the 2019 finals and now, it's been a weird two years. And so I'm just excited to get back out and play, man. Watching the bubble was hard and not being a part of that. And now, starting a new year, we've got obviously myself, Draymond, we're the elder statesman in the room, and ones that can speak on Warrior culture and what the championship mentality is. We've got a lot of talent, and we've put together a solid roster that has a lot of opportunity and potential. We'd love to have Klay and it's still hard and tough emotionally to know he has to go through another rehab, and hopefully he comes back strong. Our motivation to get back to where we belong at the top, and understanding the landscape in the league and how many talented teams are out there. We know we've got some work to do and we're ready for it. So however people talk about me and whatever the narrative is about what I need to do going into the year, doesn't change my approach at all. I know I have got to play great. I have got to lead. And that's why you work as hard as you do to be ready for that.
Do you think people have somehow forgotten just how good your are?
It's always a "what have you done for me lately type of league," but I think in terms of that narrative, people haven't really forgot. They might joke, and laugh, and try to poke and prod. But at the end of the day, I know who I am, I know who our team is, and what we've accomplished. But all that for me, I can't really dwell on it too much. Because you say you got to look forward, you got look ahead. And I think remind people is how it's framed. But at the end of the day, I love hooping. I love being on that stage. And know that that's where I belong. That's the mission.
This is obviously a hypothetical, but how would you have performed in the bubble? Guys were putting up unreal numbers.
[Laughs] I don't know. I think the same venue, and the sites and depth perception and all that.
Yeah. There are certain perks, I guess, to balance out the craziness of being in a bubble and testing every day. Walking from the gym to the hotel and seeing the other team, like it's a freaking summer league or a team camp back in high school. Really weird that way. But, yeah. That experience is so unique. Only they can speak on how it was. And like you said, playing in the same gym every day. Obviously, the numbers can say something. But how much did that build their confidence up and whatnot? So, yeah. It is the ultimate hypothetical because I would've loved to have been in there, for sure.
Speaking of narratives, the Lakers just won the title and there's always going to be people that talk about a rivalry between you and LeBron James. What stock do you put into that? Or is that more of a media thing?
We did play, the Warriors-Cavs, four years in a row. It's not that long ago in terms of that whole conversation and whatnot. And now obviously him being in the West, in the same division, and should play them four times in a normal year. But I think at the end of the day, if you get caught up in that, you're already at a disadvantage just because there's so many other teams and other players at the top. And what Bron did in the Finals, or in the bubble season this year, and what he continues to do every year—it's truly remarkable and unbelievable. I love that competition. And whoever that next guy that's going to challenge the top five, top 10 list in the league and all that type of stuff, that's for everybody else to talk about. We know what's up on the court when you see a guy across the way, you know you've got a force to be reckoned with. I want to be in that conversation every year, no matter who it is. Forever, it's going to be hard to get rid of the four year back and forth between the Warriors and Cleveland, but we're moving on.
How are you feeling about the new additions to the Warriors going into this season?
I love it, man. You study the history of the league and you think about teams that have been in that borderline contender championship conversation for as long as we have, it doesn't happen that often. So the opportunity for us to be able to galvanize the troops, if you will, and it's going to look entirely different. It's a new cast of characters. But me and Draymond [Green] have to be able to build that championship culture and what it means to be a Warrior into this new fold. It's going to require everything. And especially with the shortened training camp too, there's a sense of urgency on building that team chemistry. Unlocking guys who have a lot to prove. [Andrew] Wiggins is in a great situation with us. You said Kelly Oubre as well. And Wiseman. We have a bunch of guys who are in our rotation, on the bench, who are either in their first or second year, or have been kind of bouncing around the league a little bit. So they have an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong. It's a little bit of everything. And I'm excited about that leadership kind of role, to do my part in the locker room and on the court.
Is anybody going to challenge Oubre for the tunnel fit pics or does he already have the Warrior tunnel fit crown?
That's a great question. Shoot, I might have to bring some Curry Brand stuff and see if I can rock with him. Elevate my game. I'm sure him and Draymond, too, will inspire each other. For sure. How high can the cuff really go?
Did any move over free agency or NBA trade season really surprise you?
The one that was closest to home, I was sitting next to my brother [Seth Curry], on a little mini-vacation, and he was kind of on the phone. And he's so quiet, we didn't really know. He was kind of hinting, and talking about the trades and stuff like that. And it's kind of just out of the blue, because we were following the draft. He was sitting down at the table right next to me and he was like, "It's happening." I'm like, "Wait, what'd you say?" And he's like, "I just got traded to Philly." And then the tweet came in like maybe literally 45 seconds later. That was a surprising one. We know how fast stuff can happen in the league, especially around draft night. The rest of the league, in terms of all the different moves and stuff, it's kind of a status quo in terms of some big names changing markets and whatnot. You follow the news, you get excited about some of different looks, and understand what you're facing coming into the new season.
I think the Montrezl Harrell one surprised a lot of people, obviously, because I don't think anybody saw that one coming. You know?
For sure. The LA to LA deal just in general.
It doesn't happen often.
That doesn't happen that often. But like I said, everything is...it's a fickle league we play in. So a lot of stuff can happen.
One thing that I was thinking about was Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant played for only one team. It's very rare, but is that a club you want to join?
One thousand percent. 1,000 percent. Like I said, things change quickly. But that is definitely on my mind in terms of what we've...this is going in my 12th year. And what we've accomplished, and establishing this culture here, playing for these fans and our ownership and all the way down. So I'd love to be in that club when it's all said and done. You think about the legends that have not only played for [one team] their whole career, but achieving so much success. And had a longevity about it that is something to strive for in terms of getting the most out of this game and doing it for one organization, one fan base. So we'll see what happens.
Besides a championship, are there goals you set for yourself heading into a season?
No, I mean the only thing that I could probably point to is 3-point record because I love Reggie Miller, I love Ray Allen, I used to idolize them when I was a kid. So to be right behind them with all this was dope but everybody wants to be the best at what they do so I'm trying to catch that. But other than that, the individual accolades and all that stuff, people say it all the time, it's not cliche. It's literally that's how all great things happen when you get lost in the pursuit of just winning games and doing your part and making other people around you better. So yeah, I won't change anything about my perspective on that.
Can we put to bed any speculation that Drake tore his ACL trying to guard you in Toronto?
[Laughs] Maybe it might show up in the new album coming out. We'll see if he drops a lyric or a line or something on what actually happened.
Oh, you know he's dropping a lyric about you after you went out there. But let me ask you this, Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, one gotta go—who are you picking?
Oh my god. Just one of them got to go? This ain't the start, bench, cut thing?
No. One of them got to go.
I mean, Kendrick for me got to go just because Drake had a connection, and J. Cole's my North Carolina guy. So it's personal.
That was quick! You know J. Cole's trying to get in the league apparently. You going to give him some tips?
I gave him a few pointers. I seen the workouts though, the potential's there. The potential is there. You got to stick to one day job, that's what I learned. Especially if I'm talking me playing golf is like him rapping and playing basketball, I got to stick to one. So stick to your day job.
Obviously, you're a big golf guy. I wore the Masters' hat just for this.
I like that. First thing I noticed.
What are your thoughts on Bryson DeChambeau and the way he's now approaching the game of golf? Everyone seems to have an opinion of him.
I've met him once, he came to Oracle, I think two or three years ago, I think it was his first year on the tour. And I just talked to him for about 15 minutes, and I didn't understand a word he said in terms of how you approach the game of golf. So I knew he was up to something. He obviously looks a lot different now. But I love outside the box thinkers, I love guys that kind of create their own style and path. Whether you like his approach to it or whatever, or like his disposition on the course or whatever the case is, I'll never hate or fault a guy for trying to do it a different way, and doing whatever it takes to be successful. He's obviously already a major winner. He has, I guess challenged the game of golf in a way that probably hasn't been challenged before. And I use that word very specifically. He's almost like must-see TV, because you don't know what he's going to do or how far he's going to take it. And that's what I love, it's entertaining for sure.
Do you have a dream golf foursome?
I mean Barack Obama always, he's a good hang. He's a good hang.
What a flex.
Have you golfed with Tiger before?
That's a little surprising.
Yeah, I have not. Those two. I'm going with Lee Elder actually. I'm going with Lee Elder. That's a good three, I'm the fourth. And if we play a fivesome, then I would take, I got Tiger, oh, Vijay. Vijay Singh was my second favorite golfer growing up.
Last question. There's clearly so much happening in the country right now, but is there some sort of relief that you won't have to log onto Twitter and see the next President taking shots at you?
I hope he won't take shots, I hope he shouts me out, though. He's got a lot of work to do and we'll be supporting him every step of the way, but yeah, I'm excited about the future, man. The next four years, we'll hopefully be moving in the right direction.