More nerves: First tee with Obama or Game 1 of the Finals against LeBron?
SAN FRANCISCO—We already know Stephen Curry has the sweetest shooting stroke in the NBA, but his swing on the golf course isn't far behind. SI.com recently caught up with the NBA champion and reigning MVP at TPC Harding Park. The Warriors star flashed his golf game during a Degree driving range challenge, then sat down for a one-on-one interview to discuss his recent round with President Barack Obama, his hectic off-season and how he plans to improve before the 2015–16 season tips off.
SI.com: You’ve been playing a lot of golf lately. You played with President Barack Obama the other day. Where does golfing with the president rank among all of your accomplishments this past year?
Stephen Curry: "That’s up there for sure. Never in a million years did I think I’d join the president on his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and spend five hours with him playing golf. It was a pretty amazing experience and one I’ll never forget. I got to take my dad with me, my whole family got to come at the end of the round and meet him. It was pretty special. I played pretty well too, so I’ll remember that for a long time."
SI.com: What did you shoot?
Curry: "I shot a 76. I was told not to tell what the president shot even though he definitely played well. He can hold his own on the golf course."
SI.com: It’s probably a national secret.
Curry: "That’s right. I don’t want the Secret Service knocking on my door."
SI.com: Where did you feel more nerves: on the first tee with Obama or Game 1 of the Finals against LeBron?
Curry: "Oh, the first tee for sure. I wasn’t prepared for that situation. Your hands start shaking, the fairway seems like it’s two feet wide. It was a big moment and I was nervous to meet the president just to begin with. Now I gotta hit a little white ball in front of everyone. Once I got off the first tee it began to be more comfortable."
SI.com: You should definitely get a mulligan if the president is watching.
Curry: He gave me a breakfast mulligan. We did the two of the first tee rule.
SI.com: You've had so many accomplishments this year after such a successful season. Is it hard to say what’s next? What goals do I have left? Have you thought about what’s next in your NBA career?
Curry: "Trying to repeat this year, obviously. We had such a record-breaking year as a team, wining 67 games during the regular season, finishing that off with a championship. To win MVP was a dream come true for sure, but there are guys who have done this multiple times. That feeling is so intoxicating, walking off the court holding the Larry O’Brien trophy. So I just want to do that again. Obviously continue to get better because everyone else around the league is getting better, teams are re-tooling and trying to knock us off our thrones. The mission is to stay on top and have another successful year."
SI.com: You received the most All-Star votes this year, you’re obviously one of the most popular guys in the NBA. Also, the media loves you because you’re very accessible. Do you get any time in the off-season to just shut everything down and have things be quiet and think, ‘What in the world just happened?’
Curry: "I had a couple moments like that. I’ll take a couple vacations with the family and have a couple coming up where you can kind of just get away from everything and enjoy the blessings that have happened this year. The schedule has been busy, so I’ve been bouncing around traveling and doing different events. But it’s all good problems to have any time you’re celebrating an MVP and a championship. To be called a champ now, and my teammates, it’s something you can never take away from us. We’re celebrating and we’re getting ready for next season, but we’re definitely taking time to enjoy it."
SI.com: We have a hard time picking out weaknesses in your game these days. What would you say is the biggest hole in your basketball and golf game?
Curry: "On the golf course, that’s an easy answer. I struggle off the tee. If I can hit my driver straight, then I’m usually playing well. Something about maybe the touch in shooting can help you with your putting, because that’s the strong suit of my game. On the court, I want to try and get to the free-throw line a little more. And as a point guard you can always get better at your decision-making and limiting your mistakes. You’re going to have some, but as teams start to game plan for you when you get stronger you’ve got to be able to control the tempo of the game and always try and make as many of the right decisions as you can. That’s a never-ending process."
SI.com: Do you ever worry about complacency? Is it going to be hard to get that same kind of hunger next year?
Curry: "Knowing the group of guys that I play with every night, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. Obviously, it’s nice to have won a championship and, like I said, it’s something they can never take away from us, but we have such a talented roster with guys who have grown so much the last few years that we feel like this is just the beginning. We might have to battle some things early in the season to get our rhythm quickly, but I feel like once we start the season you get amped up with the task at hand and not really looking back at what happened in June."
SI.com: OK, shifting topics, what’s your third-best sport? Because it’s kind of ridiculous how good you are at golf. I know you probably don’t even play that much.
Curry: "Number 3…it’s probably bowling. I used to play baseball growing up. If I joined a softball league or something I could probably hold my own, but I can do a little damage on the lanes. But if i have free time, I’m out here (on the golf course)."
SI.com: Finally, I saw you on on the range striping the ball. Drivers, irons. You said your short game is actually your strength. If this basketball thing gets boring, have you ever considered trying pro golf?
Curry: "Oh, no! That’s insulting to the PGA guys out there who have spent their lives trying to perfect their craft. I’m pretty good and I know I could probably get a little better with practice, but the difference between where I’m at and where they are is night and day. I wouldn’t be shy about trying it, but a lot goes in to being a PGA professional and playing at the level they do week after week. I’ll leave it to them."