Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stephen shows up.


This Stephen Curry - have you heard of him? This joyful kid with the silky shot, the guy who's got elegance personified down pat, the guy who sinks grace deep in the net and points up to greater grace high in the sky, the player who's taking over the NBA playoffs? Yeah, him.

So, when did he show up?

Maybe it was Sunday night, when he dropped those 22 points in 390 seconds in the third quarter, in the playoffs, and went as rockin' jubilant as the golden-shirt thousands in the stands.

Maybe it was February, when he dropped 54 in the Garden and did a little shimmy and was so into the moment that he missed his teammate Draymond Green's high five and felt bad enough about it to reenact it the next day for all of Twitter to see.

Maybe it was last September, when the sun shone deep and bright on the back brick of Baker Sports Complex in Davidson, N.C., and shadowed into the woods, where he and the rest of the Davidson community gathered for a 5K race supporting his teammate Andrew Lovedale's foundation.

Maybe it was the fall before that, when the league was locked out and so he went back to class with current students, and practice with current players, and walked the familiar brick pathways that had helped to forge his future.

Maybe it was Bob McKillop basketball camp, where he came and played pick up with his friends and teammates as the summer dusk fell, showing the campers who stuck around in the stands what it means to find a place that matters.

Maybe it was the day that was supposed to be his college graduation, when he sat in the audience to support his friends, and gave my brother the treat of his life to shake his hand and take a picture.

Maybe it was coaching a kids' team at his best friend's charity event, laughing and talking and passing the ball to them as they practiced.

Maybe it was his first NBA game in front of the home crowd, when we all filled Bobcats Arena with red and the Wildcat mascot was there and we cheered only for him, and he grinned and pointed back at us.

Maybe it was during his first NBA preseason, when he sent a postcard to alumni and students thanking us for our support through the years.

Maybe it was the first Thursday night of senior year, when he turned up at the Brickhouse before he left for California to hang out in the town that knows and loves him best.

Maybe it was his first NBA press conference, when he flew to Oakland and stood with Dell and Sonya proudly holding his new jersey, and a kid in the audience asked why he wears the number 30 and he explained it was because his dad wore it, and he wore it in high school, and in college, and he said our name again, the name of our place, and I beamed.

Maybe it was draft night 2009, when we turned on our TVs all over the country and burst with pride and cheering when they said the number seven, and his name, and then our name, the name of the place where we learned and lived and grew. And he did too.

Maybe it was a week after he declared for the draft and helped make a music video dedicated to our college dining hall.

Maybe it was the entire month of April that year, as he made his decision, and the time and struggle and consideration it took.

Maybe it was The Season After, when a little town turned into bright lights big city, this circus that we could all simply watch in awe as it all rained down, pressure and ankles and ESPN and LeBron.

Maybe it was biology class, when he switched labs to make sure he wouldn't miss because of away games.

Maybe it was the story that Will Bryan tells: as members of the athletics department hung a yellow banner stitched with the words Elite Eight in an empty arena, he ran in and started cheering, and then ran into the office and blasted "We Are the Champions." 

Maybe it was the easy and humorous and amiable way that he took to the student-run TV show, and carried mini-fridges for freshmen as they moved into their dorms.

Maybe it was those brilliant days in Raleigh and Detroit, the days that I've already crammed with words and descriptions that really don't suffice, the legends. The memories that we all hold close in the inner workings of our hearts, the miracles that happened on a court but mattered far beyond it. The moments that truly did turn life's trajectories in new directions, big and small, for a North Carolina village and its school and those of us that love them, have been loved by them.

Maybe it was Before. It's funny to think about Before. But yes, it existed.

Maybe it was those 23 wins and 0 losses, the easy beatdowns and the terrifying eek-outs. Maybe it was Greensboro, the 41-point takeover. Maybe it was Elon, the right-to-left hand switch in the middle of that floater.

Maybe it was Duke, when he did the thing that he does when he runs down the court and stops just beyond the arc and lets it fly and the net doesn't move but suddenly we have three more points on the board, and that day we had three more points on the board, so close in the second half, and we screamed our faces off.

Maybe it was when he played pick up baseball on the lawn in front of the dorm two days after his 30-point standing ovation performance against Maryland.

Maybe it was Maryland, when we either hightailed it up to Buffalo for a day or professors let us out early to cram into the 900 room and Commons and THIS was the first time I really felt it, this is a special place, the place where I live and work and grow, and these guys are representing it, and I am so PROUD. And Gary Williams roared beet-red and Bob McKillop smiled and we cheered and cheered and cheered.

Maybe it was that season, my first, his first, when we chanted HE'S A FRESHMAN nearly every other play, and you quickly came to realize he just wasn't going to stop, or miss, or stop, or miss. Maybe it was the first time I ever walked into Belk Arena with my friends on a whim, to get away from studying for our first set of scary college exams.

Yeah. Maybe it was all of those.

He showed up then, he shows up now, and for those of us who've had the privilege to watch these last seven years unfold right in front of our living working growing hyped-up hearts, oh man has it been a marvelous and moving story to somehow be part of, and claim. And he has claimed us right back. There is much joy in this journey, for Davidson and for Stephen. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are grateful.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Man, first the Rusty tribute, now Steph...I've got to start getting the tissues out before I check your blog! Love love this. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- your writing just reaches out and moves people.