The NBA has always been one of the sports industry's leaders in philanthropy. Players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry are not only two of the most prominent names in sports. They also sit at the forefront of a long list of athletes speaking on social issues. The water crisis, which has affected children across the United States, is one topic of conversation in mainstream media. As we have seen with the Flint Water Crisis, tests are discovering lead and other contaminants in aging pipes and compromised water supply. Schools are having to cut costs in other areas to purchase bottled water as a quick but unsustainable fix for students. The city of Baltimore's school system cut their water access and has been on a bottled water regime for a decade.
The issue was felt firsthand by Curry when he visited a local high school in Oakland and played a pick-up game with students, after which they alerted him they didn't have access to water fountains. The moment stuck with him and he felt he needed to do something. Curry teamed up with Brita to launch a grant program to help schools purchase and install filtering stations and replacements, eliminating their reliance on bottled water.
The Golden State Warriors guard spoke to the Crossover about the importance of giving back to the community and shared details about his future return to the court.
Jarrel Harris: You signed an extension this past summer to remain with the Warriors and in the Bay Area—how important is it for you to make an impact in the surrounding community?
Stephen Curry: It's huge. This has been my adoptive home for the last few years and I am blessed with a platform and have access to resources to do a lot of good in the community. To have that perspective in giving back and creating awareness where it needs to be, it is definitely important because this community has supported the players and this organization for years. We are in a position to do a lot of good and now myself, my teammates and the organization as well have kept that a priority and it's very important for sure.
JH: Lead and water contaminant continues to be a huge problem in the United States. A lot of people were introduced to this situation though the media coverage of the Flint Water crisis. With your partnership with Brita, what do you hope to accomplish and what are some activations that you guys will be doing?
SC: Schools have been finding lead in their drinking water more and more and they are forced to find alternative solutions to provide safe drinking water to their students. Right now the choice is bottled water and that's okay temporarily but it creates so much waste and it is an expensive venture for schools to be able provide that. So with Brita and the Filter for Future campaign we are trying to get rid of water contamination in schools and stop their reliance on bottled water. Brita has pledged $1 for every purchase of their Brita Longlast pitcher to help them purchase water filtration stations and provide access to safe drinking water. I think it is an opportunity to impact students, schools, the community and to cut down on the waste that plastic bottle water is creating on a daily basis.
JH: I learned that you played pick-up with students in the Oakland area and they told you that they didn’t have access to water fountains. How was the moment for you and what what were some of your initial thoughts?
SC: That is tough to hear from any kid that goes into a gym using all of their energy, working on their game, and having fun with their friends. To not have access to clean drinking water is a tough proposition. So any work that can be done to improve that situation is definitely important and you feel for kids who are going through that fight. I think back to my days and the joy of hooping with some of my friends at school and we would run over to the water fountain and come back out. The way things are going, that is not the best bet for some of these kids. So I am trying to improve that situation for sure.
JH: I always say if a person can sell anything related to water they are a superstar. What makes working with Brita so unique compared to any other brand?
SC: Water is universal and I think it's the healthiest and best choice for kids to prioritize their health as they prepare for school and sports or whatever the case is. As part of that initiative you want to able provide as many resources and opportunities and safe drinking options for these kids. It's not just the idea of drinking water but the access and the availability of that water as well.
JH: You have played for two coaches in Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr who are very open about social issues and problems in certain communities. How much have you learned from them and how different are their teaching styles about off-the-court stuff?
SC: They have just led by example when it comes to taking a stand and being assertive in what you believe. Using your voice for good might have been the biggest lesson and encourage each other in that venture to have that responsibility and that awareness. We are blessed to be able to do what we do for a living. Playing basketball is something we have all dreamed of but we are part of a bigger community and we have the opportunity to speak for people who can't speak for themselves. Rallying resources to impact the community in a much better light. It's not just not talk; it's about your actions and that's important.
JH: Why shouldn't Warriors/Stephen Curry fans worry about your injury and your team as a whole with the playoffs near?
SC: Injuries are tough and they a part of the game, but for me I know I will be back. I have come back from injuries strong before and I will do it again. Our team is equipped to go out and win playoff games without me. I am working my butt off to back on the court as soon as possible and being close to 100 percent as I can to come back and from there, it's all about winning a championship.