CHARLOTTE – Not every All-Star Weekend is created equally, at least not through the eyes of Steph Curry.
For Curry, the 2019 All-Star Game festivities are more of a homecoming weekend.He grew up in the Charlotte area while his dad, sweet-shooting Dell Curry, played for the Hornets and then Steph grew to national acclaim as the bucket-a-minute star for underdog Davidson College.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to highlight, like showcase the city,” Curry said. “And celebrate it for what it meant to me and my journey. Our family and my dad, in terms of where he is in all the record books of Charlotte — Kemba Walker just passed him I think for all-time scoring — but he has other records that talks about his longevity there. And if you say his name in the city they know who you’re talking about, so just embrace the weekend, embrace the fun, and hopefully keep the ticket list low.”
Curry failed on the latter. He’s approaching triple digits in ticket requests, filling section 121 with friends and family.
He will play for Team Giannis on Sunday, but Saturday night could be his to take, too. Curry and brother Seth are participants in the 3-point shootout.
“It’s almost like the whole Curry family is hosting the All-Star Game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
LeBron James and Team LeBron hope to spoil the night for Curry and Company. James used his first pick on Curry’s Golden State teammate, Kevin Durant, and also selected Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is dealing with a sprained knee and could miss the game.
Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) and James Harden (Rockets) gives Team LeBron potential for an explosive starting five.
“That’s a great five,” Irving said of the chance reunion with James, having played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers on their 2016 NBA title team.
“I’m excited just to be an All-Star, getting picked by the fans, as well as the media. I’m truly grateful. It gives us another chance to go out there and play together.”
Curry picked Giannis Antetokounmpo with his first pick as a team captain opposite James last year. Antetokounmpo returned the favor and will be coached by his in-season coach, Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks.
Team Giannis includes Walker in the starting lineup along with Curry, Joel Embiid (76ers) and Thunder forward Paul George.
The Bucks’ connection, including first-year coach Budenholzer, will be strong for Team Giannis. Antetokounmpo used the first pick among reserves to take teammate Khris Middleton, with Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Warriors guard Klay Thompson still on the board.
Team LeBron also includes sentimental pick Dwyane Wade, with Dirk Nowitzki joining Team Giannis, in a maneuver triggered by the NBA to give the retiring players a grand sendoff.
“Probably my worst All-Star Game by far playing with that guy,” James said in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the retiring Wade. “I can’t believe I’m sharing another All-Star Game with Dwyane Wade, my least favorite person in the world. Nah, it’s going to be special, that’s for sure, man. It’s his last hoorah and to be part of All-Star Weekend is going to be a treat.”
Including Friday night’s festivities, when the Rising Stars game features 20 rookies and second-year talents, 18 international players from 14 countries will participate in NBA All-Star Weekend.
It’s the second season for rostering players via draft for the All-Star Game, and the 2018 contest was a track meet that came down to the final possession.James was named MVP for Team LeBron in a 148-145 win over Team Stephen at Staples Center.
In 2017, the teams combined to put up 374 points — 192-182 — with the West topping the East.
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media