By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) – When the NBA Finals begins in Toronto on Thursday it will be much more than the latest stop en route to a potential fourth championship for Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry but rather a homecoming of sorts.
The two-times NBA Most Valuable Player is the eldest of former Toronto guard Dell Curry’s three children and lived in Canada for nearly two years, a time when he would show up at Raptors practices and shoot around with his dad’s team mates.
Videos of a young Curry launching long-range shots on the Raptors home court are still online and offer a glimpse into the future of a player who has gone on to become the NBA’s greatest long-range shooter of all-time.
“It’s special. I talk about it every year, my dad having played here for three years. This is where he retired,” Curry told reporters on Wednesday at NBA Finals Media Day.
“Back in ’02, I lived here for a couple years, went to school out here. My wife grew up in Markham, right down the street. So a lot of family history, and that side of the family still lives here.”
Curry, who was born in Akron, Ohio but mainly grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, still has an affinity for Toronto where as a child he played basketball for a since-closed school whose team he led to an undefeated season.
“I look forward to coming back here every regular season, and now to be in the NBA Finals it’s something I’ve even been looking forward to if they ever made it,” said Curry. “So it’s here and I’m going to enjoy it.”
But while the 31-year-old Curry may be excited to contest an NBA title in a city he once called home, he will not get even an iota of support from a loyal Raptors fan base hoping to celebrate their franchise’s maiden championship.
When Curry leads the two-times defending champion Warriors on to the court for Game One he will do so without Kevin Durant, who led Golden State to titles the last two years and was named NBA Finals MVP each time.
Durant suffered a calf injury during the second round of the playoffs and his status beyond Game One in uncertain, although he did travel with the Warriors to Toronto.
Since losing Durant in Game Five of the Western Conference semi-final, the Warriors have gone 6-0 to reach their fifth consecutive NBA Finals and Curry offered his thoughts on what needs to be done to add a fourth title to that incredible run.
“Just play with confidence and play fast, play loose and play disciplined. We know what we’re capable of,” said Curry.
“And when he does come back, we’ll be able to transition and hopefully elevate our game even more. So great opportunity for us no matter who is playing.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)