Stephen Curry was 9 years old when he discovered that he could shoot. The opposing team clogged the paint with tight zone defense, so his coach instructed him to take over. “I stood maybe five feet off the three-point line, and our play was to throw it to me,” he remembers. That’s called a sound strategy.
Now entering his sixth NBA season, Curry has secured the reputation as the best shooter on earth. The 26-year-old guard for the Golden State Warriors, a second-generation pro talent, has a 44 percent career success rate from downtown, which is currently third in league history. In his brief career, he has already held a 54-point splash party at Madison Square Garden, set the single-season record for three-pointers made, led his team to consecutive playoff appearances, become an All-Star, and joined Team USA.
Still, he remains humble (saying Ray Allen is the best shooter) and hungry (“We’ve got a great roster. So we gotta win”). After instructing a shooting clinic put on by Degree in New York, Curry spoke to Maxim about keeping his jump sharp, hanging with Team USA, nearly boycotting the playoffs during the Donald Sterling scandal, and adjusting to new coach Steve Kerr.
Good NBA players spend the off-season trying to add one new move to their arsenal. LeBron developed a postgame. Kevin Durant devoted himself to only shooting from his highest-percentage spots. What is the new move you are working on adding to your game?
Aw, man, I’m giving away all my secrets.
Come on, give me something.
The spin-step-back. Anywhere on top of the key, the wing. I get my guy, I’m selling my drive to the basket. If, for some reason, he cuts me off, my go-to countermove would be to spin off him in the opposite direction and right after the spin move, in the same dribble, pull a step-back for even more space and still find balance to shoot the jumper. It’s almost impossible to guard if I execute it right. So that’s why I want to add it.
You may have the best jump shot in the game. How do you keep sharp?
Between 300 to 500 makes during my shooting sessions during the summer. Five to six days a week. Then, making sure I go game speed with all the moves I do, so I can simulate what I’m going to do during the games. And then it’s just about repetition and making sure every time I shoot it, it’s the same way. It doesn’t matter if I make or miss, as long as that muscle memory takes over during the games.
Has any one member of Team USA impressed you?
Anthony Davis. He’s a freak athlete. He has that guard background because he hit that growth spurt and ended up seven foot almost. But the way he blocks shots, moves, runs without the ball—and he can shoot. For a big man, he definitely has impressed me. He blocked one of my shots in transition. I pulled up for a transition three. I didn’t even see him. He came from behind—almost from half-court—reached out, and blocked my shot. That never happens.
Before Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling, reportedly players had planned to boycott the Warriors-Clippers game set for that night. How did that plan come together?
We were in shoot-around the day of the announcement, and we were like, ‘If Adam Silver doesn’t come down hard enough on Sterling, then we’ll have an opportunity to make a stand.’ It’s just a simple conversation in the locker room.
Who began that conversation?
Actually, Draymond Green and David Lee. And it all kind of just escalated from there. The guys were all onboard. And then, right after shoot-around, the word came in on what the punishment was [a lifetime ban for Sterling]. It was good enough. Obviously, we knew it would be a long road to get him out of ownership. Banning him for life and the fine, which was probably nothing for Donald Sterling—but just that sign of strength by the NBA was good. Looking back, it would’ve been cool to see how unified the players were to actually make that stand. But we never got there.
Steve Kerr received a big contract and has big expectations. He seems like a mellow, cerebral announcer. What’s he been like as a coach?
That’s a great way to describe him: very calm, very observant, calculated with what he’s doing. And as a first-time coach, that should help him establish himself and his system. I don’t know what his temperament will be like on the bench. It’s kind of an adjustment period for him as a coach.
And this is a big adjustment for the team from [former coach] Mark Jackson, a guy who was a preacher and everything.
Definitely. Different personalities. Training camp will be fun, finding out all we need to know about Coach Kerr and what to expect for the season. I’m confident that him and his staff will put us in a position to win. We’ve got a great roster. So we gotta win.
Photos by Albert Pena / Icon SMI / Corbis