Stephen Curry was an integral part of the Golden State Warriors dynasty where they racked up three titles while going to the Finals for five straight years. About a decade before that, Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal duo were the dominant dynasty, where the Lakers won three straight titles. The late great Kobe Bryant unquestionably was the influential guard that everyone looks up to today. From Devin Booker to Jayson Tatum, it is prevalent to see basketball moves that so many stars today have emulated from Bryant.
Now two years after his untimely death, Sam Amick of The Athletic came out with a piece honoring the Black Mamba as No. 10 on the Athletic’s Top 75 list. In the piece Curry spoke about the last time he had an in-person interaction with the late Bryant.
“I was in LA and had dinner with him and one of his business associates. He was an open book. But I remember just sitting down and him taking me on a journey of what he had been doing before he retired, in that first year after he retired, and then what he was currently doing. All of it sounded amazing because it was true to him and authentic in terms of what story he was trying to tell, and what was important to him at that moment.
And a lot of it was centered around his kids, and the girls, so that was the most inspirational thing. … That was the last time I saw him in person.”
Through the latter parts of Bryant’s life, he had made his life circled around being around his family more. It was as if he was making for lost time with his daughters, since he was on road so often and focused on staying at the top of his game. It was devastating not only to lose Bryant, but also his daughter Gianna, who was in the crash with him.
Curry himself has two daughters and a son with his wife Ayesha, so the sharpshooter definitely had more of a kinship to Bryant that went beyond basketball. It is quite telling that the last in-person interaction between the two did not center around basketball too much, but rather life itself.
Kobe Bryant’s Welcome to the League Moment for Young Steph Curry
Curry recalled early in his career during a meaningless preseason game, the moment when he knew he belonged.
“It was my second year, and we were playing at Oracle and he was on the bench,” Curry said. “I did a dribble left and right in front of their bench and a little pump fake and then hit the shot off the glass. And they had the camera zoomed in on him, and he looked at me as I was going down the court and you could see him say ‘That MF-er is nice.’
“I didn’t see it in real time. I saw it afterward. He had said it under his breath and they caught him on the camera saying it and somebody sent it to me. It was dope. When I saw it, that was a ‘Wow!’ moment. It’s corny, but it was one of those when-your-idols-become-your-rivals type vibes. But it was awesome. He recognized my skill level, and I didn’t even really know who I was as a player, so that was another type of confidence builder. Like, I’m doing something right.”
Bryant did not make it easy. No. 24 pressured Curry up the court, which almost forced Curry to stumble and lose the ball. But he managed to regain his balance, and nail one of his signature treys in Bryant’s grill.
Now closing into his mid 30s, Curry is starting to break records of his own. Just last week, Curry dropped 21 points in the fourth quarter against Houston. In doing so, he surpassed Bryant for the most 20-point quarters with 37 20-point quarters throughout his career. That welcome to the NBA moment seems to somewhat portray a homage of a passing of the torch from Bryant to Curry, even if many did not think too much of it at the time.