Before Stephen Curry can climb the NBA ladder, he first must climb the stairs.
"That's what I'm really focused on at this point," Curry said with a laugh in a phone interview this week. "Just make it up the stairs. I'm going to be nervous Thursday, and I don't want to trip going up on stage in New York when I hear my name called."
Thursday is the NBA Draft, where Curry now believes he will be selected anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8. Those numbers are a far sight better than what Curry had expected the day he announced he would skip his senior season at Davidson to enter the draft.
That was April 23. On that day, Curry said he had been told he would be picked somewhere from No. 7 to No. 20.
In the past two months though, Curry's draft stock has risen like the outdoor temperature. The Curry family would prefer to see Stephen get chosen by the New York Knicks at No. 8. They believe the fast-paced system run by coach Mike D'Antoni in New York would be a perfect fit.
But Curry has probably gotten too good for his own good for that to happen (unless the Knicks trade up). Although the Currys and Stephen's agents have tried to control the draft process to an extent, they ultimately understand the futility of such a pursuit. Trying to make NBA teams line up to do what you want is like trying to herd cats.
"You can't control anything in this league," said father Dell Curry, who should know as he played in the NBA for 16 years. "If you ask every player in this draft, they probably have a team they'd rather go to. You do what you can to make it happen. But obviously, although you can campaign all you want, if a team likes Stephen, that team is going to take him."
Along with Curry's parents, his younger sister and a few close friends of the family, Davidson coach Bob McKillop will be in the "green room" in New York with Stephen on Thursday night, awaiting the selection. "I've spoken to about eight different clubs about Steph," McKillop said, "and it sounds like he's hit a home run in every interview he's had. I have no doubt he'll be picked in the single digits, and it will probably be closer to the smaller numbers than the higher ones."
If Curry, 21, is taken by a team other than the Knicks, he promises he won't be a holdout. Quarterback John Elway once forced his way out of Baltimore by refusing to play for them in 1983 after getting picked No. 1 overall (he was traded to Denver instead). But Curry insisted he will do no such thing.
"I'll make the best of whatever happens," Curry said. "I'd love to go to New York, but I'm going to show up on time and give my best effort for whatever team that drafts me."
Curry is scheduled to do one last individual workout today in Sacramento. The Kings, picking No. 4 overall, might take him. Oklahoma City, at No. 3, might beat them to it.
The other three teams at 5-7 -- Washington, Minnesota and Golden State -- are also possibilities (or could trade down). Curry said he had heard Phoenix and maybe a couple of other teams were trying to trade into the top half of the draft as well.
Curry averaged 28.6 points his junior season at Davidson and was a first-team All-American while making a successful shift from shooting to point guard. Still, in a point-guard heavy draft, his stock has skyrocketed.
How did this happen?
The key moments occurred at the NBA Draft combine in late May, where Curry measured 6-31/4 in basketball shoes, shot the ball as beautifully as he always does and impressed everyone with his general Opie Taylor goodness.
"A lot of NBA general managers and executives had thought he was just a 6-1 scrawny kid who could shoot," Dell Curry said. "They got to that combine and realized he was more than that."
After that successful combine, Curry became known as a "safe" pick -- a player who wouldn't embarrass a team and would likely remain productive for years. The Curry family was able to pick and choose which teams to work out for rather than fly all over the country, as a player who is going to get picked in the teens or 20s usually must do.
They scheduled only four workouts -- Washington, New York, Charlotte and Sacramento. Stephen Curry has been staying in the Washington, D.C., area for much of the past two months for intensive training. He has still had time to fly back to Charlotte once a week for an English class he's been taking at Davidson.
After today, his workouts will be over.
Then comes the waiting. Curry plans to make a quick stopover in Charlotte on Monday (going to his summer school class and visiting friends) before flying to New York on Tuesday at the NBA's behest. He has already picked out the fabric for the suit he's going to wear Thursday night, although he hasn't seen it yet.
If you've followed Curry's career at all the past three years, you won't be surprised to learn that he's not going to wear anything too flamboyant Thursday.
What color is the suit?
"Sort of gray," Curry said.
Safe pick. Just like Curry himself.
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