Stephen Curry has made himself into a global sports star and now he is intent on helping future generations use basketball to do the same.
The Golden State Warriors point guard, a two-time MVP, has been on an Under Armour world tour and London was his latest stop over the weekend.
Basketball is hugely popular in the United Kingdom and is second only to football for participation numbers of a team sport, though it receives very little funding.
Its future growth in this country appears reliant on the NBA, with the likes of Curry promoting the game and the continuation of a regular-season match being played in London.
“Basketball is kind of low on the radar here, but we want to try and continue to raise the patter game and the next generation of kids that are getting into the game earlier,” Curry said.
“What they see in the NBA and with myself and maybe being able to carve a story out for themselves in the game of basketball – that is why I am here.
“I was meeting the club from London that was here and there was talent, it’s about continuing to try and reach that as much as we can.
“Basketball and NBA is growing crazy worldwide, so to be able to share the stories and interest is great.
“The talent around the league is crazy all the way through, obviously I want to be the best in the league at what I do and be a trailblazer in effort and let the kids know that the game of basketball has a lot of offer.
“Most won’t make it to the NBA and that is fine, you can find a journey through the game that can open up a lot of different doors, I think that is what we represent.”
The interest in the game might spike even further if the NBA sent over some of the higher-profile teams for the London clash.
This year it will be between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards, but the interest would surely peak if the likes of Curry or LeBron James were on show at the O2 Arena.
Curry would love to play over here after taking a real shine to London.
“I hope the Warriors can come,” he added. “A lot of my team-mates have been over here on their own.
“As a team playing a game; I know they rotate the teams that come and play the global game in the regular season so I am sure that will happen at some point.
“London is amazing, I came last summer, my wife was out here filming a show, so I came out for about a week and a half, we were staying in Chelsea, I got to see the city.
“It was my first time staying here so that was pretty special. It is nice to be back, I went to the football at Wembley which was fun, the people is amazing, the reception is always amazing and the culture here is phenomenal so I appreciate the opportunity to be here.”
According to Ginobili, that will present a test for head coach Gregg Popovich, who has been able to lean on a familiar group of veterans for so long.
“It’s going to be a challenge to learn more about the new guys and see what buttons to push,” Ginobili said.
See what else Ginobili had to say in the video below.
NBA icons Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill lead the 2018 Naismith Memorial National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Friday.
The trio were part of an impressive list of 13 inductees that was heavy on point guards – with Canadian Nash and Americans Allen and Kidd all enjoying record-setting careers.
Nash went from being a unscouted high school phenom from the basketball backwoods of Victoria, British Columbia, to an eight-time All-Star, while Kidd and Hill were co-rookies of the year in 1994/95 before going on to play a combined 37 seasons in the NBA.
The six-foot-three Johannesburg-born Nash won back-to-back MVP awards in 2004/05 and 2005/06 and led the league five times in assists.
His 18-year-career included finishing sixth on the all-time assist list.
“I was never supposed to be here,” said Nash, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns 15th overall in 1998 and went on to play for the Dallas Mavericks for six years before returning to the Suns where he played for eight more years before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2012-15.
“The secret is to build the resolve and spirit to enjoy the plateau. Never stop striving to reach your goals.”
Nash was born in South Africa before the family moved to Vancouver Island. He switched schools halfway through high school but failed to attract the attention of American college scouts, sending his demo tape off to 30 schools but getting no takers.
He finally landed one scholarship offer from Santa Clara University in California and the unlikely journey was under way.
“Nobody really liked what they saw on those tapes,” Nash said. “But what they couldn’t see on the tapes was the relentless obsession and work ethic that would not diminish in 20 plus years.”
He finished with averages of 51.8 per cent shooting from the field, including an NBA record 90.4 per cent from the free-throw line.
His influence on Canadian basketball cannot be overstated, says hockey icon Wayne Gretzky. “I think he was a huge influence on all these kids,” Gretzky said in a video tribute to Nash.
“Coast to coast, Vancouver to Newfoundland, he gave them the opening and ability to believe they could play in the NBA.”
The 10-time All-Star Kidd climbed to number two all-time in assists during his 19-year playing career that included winning the 2011 NBA title with the Mavericks. The point guard is No2 on the all-time steals list.
Seven-time All-Star Hill made the NBA first All-Star team in 1996/97. He won back-to-back US college national titles at Duke University in 1991 and 1992.
Another inductee was Ray Allen, a 10-time All-Star, who helped the Boston Celtics win a championship in 2008 and then won it with the Miami Heat in 2013.
He made more three-point shots (2,973) than anyone in history.
“I don’t believe in talent,” Allen said. “I am here because I worked hard my whole life.
“So for kids aspiring to be like one of us, put the work in. What an amazing class I am part of. I am humbled and honored to sit here and be part of class of 2018.”
The rest of the class included former players Maurice Cheeks, Dino Radja and Charlie Scott and ex-college coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell.
Tina Thompson and Katie Smith were also enshrined as was Ora Mae Washington, who started her sporting career playing basketball before starring in tennis too.
Former player, coach and executive Rod Thorn and Golden State Warriors’ chief operating officer Rick Welts completed the list.