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VOL. 39 | NO. 27 | Friday, July 3, 2015

One Davidson grads revels in another’s success

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When NBA MVP Stephen (pronounced Steff’n) Curry was in high school, he attended a basketball camp sponsored by LeBron James. The first time LeBron saw Steph, however, was in March 2008.

James’s Cleveland Cavaliers were playing the Detroit Pistons, a night game. That afternoon LeBron showed up at Ford Field, with 53,000 others.

James saw Curry and his Davidson Wildcats dismantle the University of Wisconsin in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen round. Curry had 33 points. James cheered him on. A portentous event, this.

During a half-time interview, LeBron predicted Curry would play in the NBA, and that his skills would improve.

As a Golden State Warrior, Curry this season averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals per game, and shot 91 percent from the foul line.

More important, his team won.

In the playoffs, Curry shattered the all-time record for three-point shots made. Reggie Miller made 58 treys in 22 post-season games in 2000. Curry made 98 treys in 21 games.

Since mid-season, it seemed inevitable that the paths of Curry and James were destined to cross in the Finals. And that’s what happened.

The Warriors took game one, 108-100, in overtime. LeBron had 44 points, eight rebounds, six assists; Steph went 26-4-8. Klay Thompson added 21 points.

The Cavs took game two, 95-93, in OT. James went 39-16-11, but the big story was Matthew Dellavedova. Playing for injured Kyrie Irving, “Delly” shut Curry down for a long while, and Thompson’s 34 points were not enough for the Warriors.

Game 3 was a rout for the Cavs, until the fourth quarter. Cleveland built a 20-point lead. A light bulb went on in Warriors Coach Steve Kerr’s head. GS altered its lineup late. Curry led a fourth-quarter surge, scoring 17 points, that cut the lead to one. But the miracle comeback fell short. Cavs, 96-91. LeBron went 40-12-8.

To start game four, Kerr stayed with the new lineup, benching Andrew Bogut in favor of Andre Iguodala, who guarded James. Iguodala and Curry each got 22 points, and Draymond Green added 17. Warriors, 103-82. James managed only 20 points.

In game five, Curry broke loose, scoring 37 points, offsetting James’s second triple double, 40-14-11. Warriors, 104-91. Iguodala, 14-7-8, again made a huge difference.

Before Game 6, James humbly referred to himself as the “best player in the world.”

During the game, he scowled a lot, shouted at his teammates, complained to the refs, made a third of his field goal attempts and missed half his free throws.

Curry and Iguodala got 25 points each, with 13 assists and 11 rebounds between them. Green bagged a triple double, 16-11-10. GS, 105-97.

After a 40-year drought, the Warriors were crowned NBA champs.

Curry said, “This was an unbelievable experience. All 14 guys on the team have sacrificed something to get to this point.”

Iguodala, who was named MVP of the Finals, said, “I wanna be like Steph when I grow up.”

James said, “If I coulda gave more, I woulda done it .... We ran out of talent.”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net. He also is a graduate of Davidson.

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