Running on ‘championship adrenaline,’ Steph Curry hoops with top young players at Curry Camp

SAN FRANCISCO — Steph Curry can’t stop moving.

Running wild is one of his signatures moves on the basketball court and a tradition of his off-seasons.

Since parading down Market Street to celebrate his fourth NBA title with the Warriors three months ago, Curry has golfed in Tahoe, hosted the ESPYs, treated hundreds of kids to an A’s game in Oakland and celebrated his three children’s birthdays and his 11th wedding anniversary with his wife, Ayesha, in France.

Now he’s hosting 26 elite high school basketball players — 13 girls and 13 boys — at his Curry Camp, held at the San Francisco Olympic Club. A tradition that took a two-year break amid the pandemic, but resumed this year with some of the country’s top young talents in house, including identical twin phenoms Amen and Ausar Thompson and Division 1 recruits like UConn commit Ashlynn Shade.

At Friday’s practices, Curry warmed up, ran drills with his campers and even refereed scrimmages between the boys and girls sides.

Isn’t he even little tired?

“Not at all,” Curry said. “Running on championship adrenaline.”

Of course, Curry brought along a little help to the intimate event. Former teammate and current free agent Kent Bazemore and his personal trainer Brandon Payne are coaching alongside him along with a team of people from Curry’s camp.

“I Love to give that back knowing I have the opportunity to do so,” Curry said. “And I love to be out there engaged with the kids. I really have fun doing it.”

And Friday’s special event was a full coaching session with Bob McKillop, Curry’s coach at Davidson College just recently retired after 33 years. He didn’t go easy on the kids, unafraid to get up in the young players’ personal space.

“You’re on Curry’s team, you put that jersey on, you make sure you handle what that represents,” McKillop said in a fiery pre-practice speech. “And what does that represent? Does that represent shooting 3s? He shot 68% on layups this year, 98% from the foul line this year. He does everything shooting wise. But that’s with the ball in his hands. He runs 2.5 miles per game. Because he’s cutting, helping, attacking space. You ever seen him screen? He’s one of the best screeners in the league. He’s a complete player.

“I want you guys to start playing like Stephen today. I’m here to help you. I’m here to make you better players. I’m going to kick your butt a little bit, but I’m going to kick your butt because I want to make you better.”

McKillop’s voice rang out loud through the gym as he ran the boys through movement-based drills. A more subdued, but hands-on Curry and Bazemore ran the same drills with the girls on the other side of the court.

“He’s actually tamed down,” Curry said. “I got him 15 years ago even more spry than that.”

Everything the campers work on at Curry Camp is based on Curry’s career path. His 6-foot-3 frame made him a physical underdog heading into the league, which meant he had to shape himself into one of the best conditioned players in the NBA.

Stamina has “directly” impacted Curry’s ability to play like a kid at age 34, Payne says. If anything, they hope young players at his camps copy those good habits that got him here.

“That’s the key for me. I’m not a physical specimen, in the normal ways you think about it, so all the details matter,” Curry said. “The high schoolers, we’re throwing a lot at them over the three-day stretch, so I know they won’t retain everything. But details do matter. Being coachable matters. Dealing with failure matters. The nuances of footwork, body control. It’s not about just how good you are, it’s about doing the things that make your team better. We hammer those points down so that hopefully they can adopt that mentality in the game.”

Other than good habits, the kids will also take home a huge box of goodies. Curry gifted each player around five pairs of his Curry brand shoes — included some that haven’t been released to the public yet — and a bunch of other gear.

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Curry is running out of room to run in this offseason with training camp drawing near. He’s taken pauses to see how the Warriors are re-tooling to defend their 2022 title.

“I’m excited,” Curry said. “It’s gonna look a little different, but you can blend the championship experience with where we were at the beginning of last year. Put that all together and try to keep this thing going. Defending is tough, but we’re excited about the opportunity.”

After this three-day event, Curry will start to focus in on the next season with Payne and his trainers. Are they surprised that he’s got any energy left?

“At this point, not really,” Payne said. “You come to expect it. But after this camp, it’s time to refocus and get ready.”