OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry spent the day after Christmas feeding 400 needy families in the Oakland area.
The thing people remember about that occasion is not Curry writing the big check. Its that when the firemen showed up to start delivering the food, Curry was the first one lugging boxes out to the trucks.
Curry, the former Charlotte Christian and Davidson star, has this doing-well-by-doing-good thing down to the T. Hes the most popular Warrior since Chris Mullin left the Bay Area in 1997. The talent he averages 24.5 points and 9.0 assists this season is obvious, but hes also likeable in a way many pro athletes never get.
Hes a loveable guy, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. You look at him as a husband, a father and a teammate, and hes an all-around good guy. People appreciate the way he goes about his business.
The Warriors were an afterthought in Bay Area sports for most of the past decade. Thats partially because they lost a lot, partially because theyre in Oakland, when San Francisco is viewed as the sexier city, and partially because no one player gave fans a compelling reason to cross the Bay Bridge and check them out.
The Warriors fan base was remarkably patient and loyal through that span. Now Curry is putting up crazy numbers he scored 44 points and made eight 3-pointers against the Utah Jazz in his last game and Golden State is a contender in the West at 29-19. More than a million fans voted him into this months All-Star Game in New Orleans as a starter.
Sorry, Bobcats fans, but the Charlotte kid called the Bay Area his new home Monday while getting ready for Tuesdays game against the Bobcats. He loves Northern California and Northern California sure loves him back.
Lew Marsten, a San Francisco-based sports marketer, ranks Curry third in popularity among Bay Area athletes behind Giants catcher/first baseman Buster Posey and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Marsten said for the longest time, ranking a Warrior among the most popular athletes would have sounded laughable.
The NBA is big here, but its not the Niners or the Giants. So him being that big in the Bay Area says a lot, said Marsten, director of sales for VIP Sports Marketing.
He gives a lot back. Hell always go on the air with (Warriors flagship station) KNBR. Win or lose, hes always the guy who comes back out and signs autographs. Hes the classic clean-cut American kid in a market where many of our guys have had problems off the field.
Marsten said its telling that every Warriors fan seems to know Curry went to Davidson, the small, academically elite college north of Charlotte.
Hes very proud of his roots, very proud of Davidson. Warriors fans understand about that, Marsten said. If you asked them where (Warriors forward) David Lee played, I dont know that theyd know. And he won two national championships at Florida.
This works because its not an image. Its who Dell and Sonia Curry raised their three kids to be.
Regardless of your profession, your personality is what it is. Im blessed to play this game in front of a lot of people, to impact people whether its in person or not, Curry said after practice.
Then he quoted Richard Sherman, the bright and sometimes edgy defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks: Be yourself, whoever that is.
Thats how I was raised, Curry said of his good-guy approach. How much success you have or what have you, that shouldnt change.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell