Exploring NBA Star Steph Curry's Irish (And Sligo) Connection

Exploring NBA Star Steph Curry's Irish (And Sligo) Connection
By Paul McNulty
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Lebron James last night delivered on his promise to Cleveland, securing the Cavaliers their maiden NBA title in an astonishing comeback against the Golden State Warriors. Throughout the season, however, it was James' direct rival in the finals, Steph Curry, who shone brightest.

Curry might be the most loved basketball star in the world. On the night that's in it - there's a touch of Shane Lowry about him. He's relaxed, takes himself with a pinch of salt and comes from sporting royalty - his dad Dell was a star for the Charlotte Hornets.

Curry has revolutionised the game - he hit more three-pointers this season (402) than anyone in the history of the league. He also holds the record for the second-most three-pointers ever with last season's total of 286.

Michael Bree might be one of the few Irish people to know Steph Curry - and to have experienced his stunning shooting skills up close. Bree is a Sligoman who attended the same college as Curry - Davidson College - just outside Charlotte and he has first-hand experience of the reigning two-time MVP of the NBA.

Speaking exclusively to Balls.ie, Bree, now the coach of Sweden's under-16 squad, recalls his experiences with Curry.

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"I remember the first time I met Steph. He was a skinny, small kid. He didn't look like a college Division One basketball player. We knew who he was because of his dad but just because your dad was an NBA player doesn't meant that you will be too.

"I was four years before Steph [in Davidson] so when they were recruiting him - I knew he was coming in. The first time I played against Steph - he and his brother Seth (also a current NBA player with the Sacramento Kings) came in. We were playing a pickup game.

"Davidson had told us they were recruiting this kid and they were pretty high on him. As with every other recruit we said 'okay, lets play it and see what he's got.'

At the time - former Ireland international Bree was a well-established star at Davidson - he was named the college's MVP for his last two seasons at the school - the only player in the school's history to do so before Curry.

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"I was guarding Steph on the wing. I was backtracking on defence as he had the ball in his hand. I saw he was shooting so I tried to stop hom. But by the time I'd stopped [running backwards] the ball had already left his hands. I didn't know what happened.

"I thought it was me not reacting quickly enough but now we him do it every night so it wasn't just me. He got the ball off so quick I'd never seen anything like it. He had it then and he has it now. There is no way to explain how quickly he released that ball."

Curry was coached by the same man who coached Bree - Bob McKillop (once profiled brilliantly by Charles P Pierce)- and the Sligo man can see the veteran coach's traits in the way Curry carries himself on the court.

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"I see it in the way he acts. He's modest off the court and when you talk to him; he's a quiet guy. But then on the court he's more brash and confident. Coach McKillop is a unique guy - he's all about determination and getting the best out of yourself. You can see that in Steph.

"There are a lot of people trying to knock him off his pedastal but he just sees it as noise. I think we'll see the true Steph Curry tonight. His will is just stronger than anyone else's. That's why the Golden State Warriors will win tonight."

Ultimately inaccurate, but the final result should not take away from Curry's remarkable season.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGvZBwE2FUs

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