In a high school office 3,000 miles from Oracle Arena, Shonn Brown and Chad Fair typically begin their chats by marveling at Stephen Curry’s latest feat. The exchanges quickly veer in directions unlike those of any other Curry conversations on the planet.
“Have you talked to him lately?”
“How’s his state of mind?”
“That facial hair is something else.”
Any commentary on Curry’s physical appearance — or his emotional state, for that matter — is understandable. Fair and Brown knew him long before he became the baby-faced assassin.
Brown was Curry’s basketball coach at Charlotte Christian School, while Fair taught a class in theater production that Curry took as a senior-year elective.
Together with Bob McKillop, who coached Curry during his three seasons at Davidson College, they form an oft-overlooked segment of Curry’s inner circle — at-the-ready to listen or advise, gatekeepers to his shrinking privacy, holders of his eternal trust.
That Curry has carried the relationships through his ascent to superstardom speaks not only to their values but also,reflectively, to his:
To his desire to stay centered, to keep his faith and humility and to retain the part of him that existed before the SC30 phenomenon.
“They all shaped me,’’ Curry said after a recent practice.
“I took part of their characteristics, and added it to mine.
“You can get lost in the day-to-day grind in this league and the drama and the expectations to perform. It’s kind of a bubble …They give me a fresh perspective.”
Asked about Brown’s lasting impact on his life, Curry drops his head and let loose a slight grin.
“He saw me when I was 14, 16, 18 years old, and those were some interesting years,’’ he said of life as a teenager. “But he set the vision for what I could accomplish going forward in life, not just in basketball.’’
Despite his scrawny frame, Curry was skilled enough as a freshman to play on the Charlotte Christian varsity. But Brown vetoed the idea and instead placed Curry on the JV.
Brown, it seems, was playing the long game — the lifelong game.
“We wanted him to run the JV so that going into the next year, he would be ready,’’ Brown said. “It would make the transition easier, so he could develop the confidence to lead the group.
“If he was on the varsity (as a freshman), he would have gotten minutes here and there. But what good would that have done? We set him up to have a major role when he got there.
“We talked a lot about the legacy he would leave for Charlotte Christian. We talked about what it was like to be a man. We call it salvation and sacrifice. Now you look at how he sacrifices for the Warriors, how he manages his home life.”
They still talk, Curry and Brown. They talk and they text and they see each other when Curry visits Charlotte during the season or when Brown lends a hand at Curry’s summer basketball camp.
“I remember telling him that I appreciated him letting me work his camp,’’ Brown said.
“And he kind of looked at me funny and said, ‘You’re coach Brown. You’re my coach Brown.’’’
Like Fair and McKillop, Brown takes great care never to ask for anything. With all three — as with Curry’s immediate family and other close friends — the aim is to help keep the walls from closing in.
“I’ll say, ‘How are you doing with everybody pulling at you?’’’ Brown said. “I don’t tell him what to do. Instead, I say, ‘I’d ask you to strongly consider.’
“And it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.”