The NBA Finals are the biggest stage in basketball and one of the most televised events in the world. Game 5 was certainly a pivotal chapter in Stephen Curry’s career. He had worked his entire life, putting in thousands of hours of practice to get to this game… and in the middle of the second quarter, he turned his back to all of it and walked out!
A few moments earlier, Steph’s friend and teammate Kevin Durant had fallen to the floor. Kevin had spent weeks upon weeks coming back from a leg injury that kept him from playing. After scores of 2-a-day rehab sessions, pain, and hard work he had finally been cleared to rejoin his team for Game 5.
As the game started Kevin Durant was killing it – hitting 3’s and playing solid defense. He was on cloud 9. Then after just a few minutes, he fell to the floor. He had strained a different part of his leg and all his hard work was thrown out the window.
As he limped off the court, Steph, who was still playing in the game, walked off the court with his friend towards the locker room. [NOTE: this is not something you as a basketball player would do! Steph’s team was on the chopping block and he was the best player on his team.] He looked at what he had worked his whole career for and he looked at his friend who was hurting. And he walked away with his friend.
*SPOILER ALERT* the Warriors and Steph won the game. But afterward no one was celebrating. No one on the team looked happy. After the game a reporter asked Steph why after such an incredible victory no one was celebrating. Here’s how he responded:
“Everybody gets so wrapped up in chasing championships…. But life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they’re going through…”
Wow. This is the Finals we’re talking about – it’s like Elon Musk finally getting to Mars and then being upset because his neighbor back on Earth had a loss in the family.
Another reporter asked Steph, “Out of all the players that walked Kevin back to the locker room you were the only one who was still in the game… with the NBA Finals stage [and the game on the line]… why’d you feel that was necessary?”
“Sometimes the Spirit tells you what to do. You don’t really make decisions you just act on it.”
Steph Curry is human just like anyone else. He’s not a superhero; he’s just a man. But knowing that Jesus told us to 1. Love God and 2. Love Others, I can’t help but feel like Steph nailed it this time.
With his career, legacy, and reputation on the line, he saw his friend in physical and emotional pain, he stopped everything (even the NBA Finals), and walked his friend to the medical room. He showed that the person was greater than the prize and that when the Spirit tells you to walk away from your goals you do it.
Bringing it to a personal level, I get caught up in hustle culture. I want to show up to work and grind for longer than anybody else and head home to work some more. I won’t take a coffee break and love on people because time is limited and I’ve got to squeeze what I can out of it to reach my career goals.
But what Steph showed me last night and what I think Jesus would say is that we should take the paradigm of that last paragraph and turn it on its head. It’s people that matter more than our goals. It’s people that matter more than our aspirations. And if Stephen Curry can walk away from the ultimate glory in sports today, hopefully we can find a way to listen to the Spirit and walk away from our trophies that will disappear before we know it.
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