Charlotte Hornets

Stephen Curry answers golf’s call

Some players are drafted and they pass through. Others dig in. They become so integral to a team and a town that you can’t envision them anywhere else.

Stephen Curry sounds like one of them.

I ask him Tuesday if he can see himself playing for a team other than Golden State.

“I can’t,” he says.

Curry talks about the four-year $44 million extension he signed seven months ago that kicks in next season. He’ll be 29 when the contract expires.

“I know that not many players play their whole career for one team in one city,” says Curry. “I don’t see a better place to play.”

The Warriors beat eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio on the road and won two of the playoff series’ first four games. They would lose in six. But they were discovered. Curry was discovered. The Warriors were young and fast and daring, and their first-round victory against favored Denver proved it.

Curry says the team can accomplish more, and he wants to be there to lead it.

He talks on a conference call from Lake Tahoe, Nev. His partner on the call is Hank Haney, who not surprisingly is the star of the Golf Channel’s The Haney Project. He was once the swing coach for Tiger Woods.

Curry will compete July 16-21 in the American Century Championship at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Other golfers include Michael Jordan, Aaron Rodgers, Steve Spurrier, Michael Phelps and defending champ Dan Quinn, the former Pittsburgh Penguin. The last two rounds will be televised by NBC.

Curry, who has a two handicap, played three years on the golf team at Charlotte Christian, but he says he did it mainly to get out of class. His father, Dell Curry, began to play when he was a Charlotte Hornet, and Stephen would tag along and chip and putt.

“My favorite memory of golf is beating my dad for the first time,” says Curry. “It was on his birthday, which kind of sucked for him. I shot somewhere in the 70s. I was 13 at the time.”

They were in Myrtle Beach. They still play every summer, and the upset always is talked about – by Stephen.

That he is part of the conference call attests to his new popularity. The NBA can be sullen and ugly, and not only when the New York Knicks play. But the Showtime Warriors ran the court relentlessly and hit shots from so far away that, once upon a time, a player would have been benched for taking them.

Curry’s younger brother, Seth, who played for Duke, will be available in this month’s NBA draft. Do you see him in the league?

Of course he does.

“I don’t know if he’ll get drafted or not,” says Curry. “I know he’ll be in a training camp and have an opportunity to make a team and not only make a team but help a team. His basketball IQ will hopefully take him a long way.”

That’s the goal for the Warriors next season – go deeper in the playoffs. Curry sounds as if he’ll spend more time in the gym than on the golf course. He wants to enhance his strength. The more effective he was, the more opponents tried to rough him up.

“I embrace that challenge and that style of play,” he says. “It’s fun for me to know that teams want to make you uncomfortable on the floor. My job is to just go out and play and not worry about that.”

Another goal is to draw more fouls and shoot more free throws and, unlike this season, be selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game.

“I’m past that,” Curry says when asked by another reporter about not getting selected. “That was a difficult situation, obviously. I thought I played well and it was nice to hear the support from so many fans and teammates and so many other players in the league and analysts and some of the legends.”

If he plays the way he did this season, he’ll make the team. It will be his turn. The odds of winning the tournament are not as good.

He’s 50-1. The odds of Jordan, Ray Allen or Vinny Del Negro winning are a mere 40-1.

“I played with Ray and Michael,” says Curry. “I feel like I could beat him (Jordan). “We’ll see what happens when we take it from a friendly match to the American Century Championship, with galleries and TV cameras. I think I can hold my own.”

Here’s a potential wager. If Curry loses, he forfeits his contract extension. If Michael loses, he forfeits his basketball team.

The odds that Charles Barkley, whose swing Haney helped craft, will win are 500-1.

Is that enough?

“I think the bookmakers are safe no matter what the odds are with Charles,” Haney says.