Ex-NBA players Dell Curry, Mychal Thompson sit down with their sons – PHOTOS


Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They’re the sons of former NBA players Dell Curry and Mychal Thompson. Both sons have connected on 483 threes last season.

Mychal Thompson played 12 seasons in the NBA, winning 2 NBA championships with LA Lakers (in 1987, 1988). Thompson averaged career-high 20.8 ppg and 11.7 rpg for Portland Trailblazers in 1981-1982. Thompson holds career averages of 13.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 1.1 bpg in 29.7 mpg. He played a total of 935 games in the NBA.

Dell Curry spent his NBA career playing for Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. Curry was a tremendous outside shooter in the NBA. He shot a jaw-dropping 47 percent from 3-point range in 1998-99. Curry averaged double figures in scoring in 11 of his 16 seasons. Curry averaged career high 16.3 ppg for Charlotte coming off the bench in 1993-94. He played a total of 1083 NBA games (starting 99), averaging 11.7 ppg in 21.7 ppg.

All four of them, current players and their fathers (both fathers are now broadcasters: Curry with the Charlotte Bobcats and Thompson for the LA Lakers) met a couple of days ago, and sat down to talk and discuss various things.

INTERVIEW

Q: For the players, what’s the hardest your dads have ever been on you in terms of basketball?

Stephen Curry: My senior year in high school, my dad was an assistant coach. I can’t remember which game it was, but it was a long car ride home. I didn’t shoot enough. I was like a really unselfish player as a point guard. And in certain situations in the game, I could have been a little bit more aggressive trying to score and leading the team that way. I kind of shied away from that a little bit and he got into me.

Dell Curry: That is a cardinal sin. (Laughter) I remember that. He was passing it to some kid. But I was like, ‘The guy is open for a reason. They want him to shoot, son.’

Klay Thompson: My dad’s been pretty mellow when it comes coaching me. … I only have one vivid memory of him getting mad at me. And that was on the air, actually. The first year we played the Lakers at Staples Center, I had made three or four of my first shots. As a shooter, you kind of have a heat check. So that fifth one I kind of pulled up for a transition 3. I think I airballed it. My friend sent me a sound bite from the radio where you hear my dad say, “Klay, what are you doing, man?!”

Q: For Dell and for Mychal, now that you’re broadcasters, how do handle it when your sons are on the court?

Mychal Thompson: For me, it’s easy. I always told Klay this, and his brothers: As long as you compete hard, I’ll never criticize you. That’s one thing I’ve always admired about Klay. He competes really hard. Steph. This whole team completes hard. They play hard. They show up every night. And as far as I’m concerned, as long as he does that I have no criticism of his game.

Dell Curry: The way they played last year, there was nothing negative you could say about your play, especially when they played the Bobcats. My play-by-play guy, he does enough bragging for my son. He watched him grow up in Charlotte, so I just feed off him. It’s a little different. When I used to watch from home, I was watching Steph at all times. I found myself doing that in the first quarter. I caught myself on the air and thought, ‘Whoa, I have to watch out. I need to watch everybody here.’

Q: Do I have this right, Mychal? Do you call your son ‘Thompson’ on the air?

Mychal Thompson: No! I call him Klay. I wanted to call him ‘Klayboy’ but his mother wouldn’t let me. (Laughter)

Q: Do you (Steph and Klay) ever go back and listen to what your dads say about you during a broadcast?

Klay Thompson: Sometimes. I’ll Tivo the game when we play the Lakers. I like hearing him talk on the radio. I’m not going to lie: It’s pretty entertaining. He kind of brings a different personality than I see at home. His radio personality is pretty fun. He holds the Warriors high, but I always feel like we’re second place to the Lakers.

Mychal Thompson: Well, that’s true. Absolutely. My blood is purple and gold.

Klay Thompson: Yeah. Hopefully we can dethrone them this year.

Mychal Thompson: People in LA are always calling me up on the radio and asking about this situation: Score tied, 4 seconds to go, Klay is in the corner taking the shot against the Lakers. What do you want that shot to do? For me? I want him to miss. (Laughter) … Now, Dell, go on record: What do you say?

Dell Curry: Oh, man. You can’t go against blood.

Klay Thompson: Thank you!

Stephen Curry: Blood is thicker than water.

Q: Mark Jackson famously said last year Klay and Steph are “the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game.” As two longtime veterans, what’s your reaction to that?

Dell Curry: I’ve heard a lot of people try to come up with duos to dispute that, and I cannot do it. Obviously, you have backcourts that have won more and done more, but as far as shooting a basketball? I can’t think of anybody from my time.

Q: The closest?

Dell Curry: Oh, gosh. I don’t know if you’ve ever had two guys. You’ve had one guy who carries the weight and then the next guy is OK. But not two guys who shoot as accurately as they do.

Mychal Thompson: They didn’t shoot as many 3s, but maybe Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars? But I agree with (Jackson). You know, I had thought that, but when Mark actually said it, I’m like, ‘Whoa! He put it out there!’ Mark had the nerve to actually challenge these two young men to live up to that lofty expectation. I was just too scared to say it.

Q: Mychal, you played on two Lakers championship teams and Dell played in 51 career playoff games. How will things be different now for this Warriors team now that the bar has been raised?

Mychal Thompson: It is a process for teams, as Dell knows. Young teams get together like the Warriors and you learn how to win. Last year, these guys learned how to win. And you could see the first series against Denver and against San Antonio they put themselves in position to win the series. It didn’t happen, but now Steph and Klay and the rest of the roster know what it takes to get to the next level and now you come into the seasons and not only are the fans expecting it and the media, hopefully the guys in the locker room are looking at each other and saying, ‘Boys, if we don’t get to the West Finals this year, something is wrong.”

Dell Curry: That’s the thing. Once you get to the playoffs it’s a different beast than the regular season. You have to learn how to win and learn what it takes on a game-by-game basis. You’re so focused and locked in, It takes a lot more energy than the regular season. And now they have a little target on their chest, so to speak, because people know they’re a young team, a hungry team and a lot of teams are going to come in and try to make their season by beating them.

Q: For Steph and Klay, does it feel different? You can’t sneak up on teams now. You’ve got a target.

Klay Thompson: Yeah, I’m not going to lie. Especially, with the moves we made this summer … It feels a lot different, especially compared to last year when people weren’t expecting us to do anything. It’s a culture change for the Warriors and it’s a position we haven’t been in in a long time. So we’re excited.

Stephen Curry: On the same note, though, we have approached the season the same way with our preparation. Everybody is coming in early, like Klay was talking about. … There’s still a hunger. Nobody is really complacent around here. And that same kind of drive and focus going into training camp is still there. We have our eyes on bigger goals this year.

Q: Dell, you brought up the work ethic that it took for all of you guys to get the success that you’ve had. As players, what do you think you inherited from your dads and what do you think you worked to earn all on your own?

Klay Thompson: I would say the knowledge of the game I got from my dad. Growing up around him, and I’m sure Steph could testify to this, I had to kind of a step on the other kids. Just knowing how to read screens, how to run a pick-and-roll. Simple stuff like that. I would say I got my knowledge of the game from my dad, just being able to experience live games, being able to have NBA package and watch all of the NBA games. And just go out and do it. I would definitely say I got the knowledge of the game from my dad.

Stephen Curry: Basketball IQ is just being around it and enveloping yourself in it. And watching him, I don’t know if it was just being in that atmosphere and just seeing what he did and how he talked about the game off the court. You just kind of pick up stuff a lot quicker. And when you actually get on the court, you rely on those nuances of the game that you know. They kind of give you an edge. But also just having balance, on and off the court, with family. Now that I have my own family, and a daughter, how do put the time in to your job and your love of the game and also give your family the time that they need and deserve as well. He was a great influence in that aspect as well.

Q: How often do you guys talk during the NBA season?

Klay Thompson: Since this guy learned how to text, quite a lot. (Laughter) And that’s not a lie, either. He’ll just text me after each game saying great job rebounding or staying out of foul trouble, little stuff like that.

Mychal Thompson: Yeah, little stuff like that. In this day and age, with social media and the technology, you can just leave texts messages. You don’t have to talk as much, which I’m sure the kids really appreciate. You don’t want to inundate them. Because they have coaches. You don’t want to be too overbearing as a parent. You have to give them some room.

Dell Curry: That’s me. I don’t coach much anymore. They have the best in the game here and it’s their joto coach them. So you get too many people in your ear and it can be a not-too-good experience. So we talk about golf more than we do basketball.

Q: Steph, what’s it like having your brother, Seth, here? And you, too, Dell, You’ve now got two sons on the same roster.

Dell Curry: Well, it’s a good opportunity for Seth. Coming off of injury, he wants to be in the NBA. They’re giving him a chance here. Now he has to go out an improve himself. … He can learn from guys who know how to play and do it the right way in a great organization. We’re blessed that he’s here.

Stephen Curry: It’s kind of a throwback to high school, when I played with him my senior year and his sophomore year. He seems like he’s playing well in pickup and things like that. It’s an opportunity for him to hopefully leave an impact on training camp and preseason and hopefully make the team and start his own career.

Q: For the players, what’s your favorite moment of your dad’s play, whether it was something you saw in person or maybe looked up on youtube?

Mychal Thompson: Remember, you were laughing at me a couple of months ago?

Klay Thompson: Yeah. This guy said he never got dunked on. We were watching ‘Hardwood Classics’ and Robert Parish dunks on him. Me and my brothers haven’t stopped giving him grief.

Mychal Thompson: It wasn’t my fault. I was trying to help out. I got caught and Robert Parish dunked. C’mon! I was taking about straight on.

Dell Curry: It wasn’t his man.

Mychal Thompson: That’s right. I was guarding (Kevin) McHale. (Parish) was Kareem’s guy. It was Kareems’s fault. (Laughter)

Klay Thompson: I pulled out the tape against the Spurs when my dad had 40, and that was pretty impressive. He was hitting jumpers and his little ugly hook shot. It was effective though, very effective. It was quick. It was kind of like David Lee’s baseline hook.

Stephen Curry: Other than the uniforms and the flattop, which is always fun to watch on my dad’s highlights? Hmmm. The 1994 playoffs against Boston, in Charlotte, they had a last-second play drawn up and (my dad) was the in-bounder underneath the basket. They ran a play for Alonzo Mourning and he made the assist to Alonzo at the free-throw line for the game-winner and then was the first person on the dogpile. ‘Zo had his hands up celebrating the shot. That was one of my favorite memories of my dad being involved in basketball.

Q: What were your backyard games like?

Mychal Thompson: It was easy for me, Dell, because I could just back Klay or his brothers into the low post. With you being a guard, you couldn’t keep up with them little young quick boys outside. But I had the advantage of playing in the paint. What age were you when Steph and Seth started beating you?

Stephen Curry: I don’t even remember if we played 1-on-1 like that.

Dell Curry: I’m not a 1-on-1 guy. We played H-O-R-S-E.

Stephen Curry: We just played H-O-R-S-E all the time. I probably got you once or twice in middle school, maybe. I don’t remember the first time. … I just remember the first time I beat you in golf. It was on your birthday and I was 13.

Dell Curry: So around 13-14. That’s when kids start to beat their fathers. When you’re 11 or 12, they’re still so small you can block their shots. But then the boys start getting 13-14-15, they’re just too fast.

Q: A lot of kids are born with athletic talent. At what point did you realize your boys were going to put in the work it takes to be great?

Dell Curry: I don’t know if there was an age.

Stephen Curry: We had that conversation, when was it, my seventh grade year? Eighth grade? I was trying to play four different sports and you tried to focus down on what I was going to invest my time into and what sport I truly loved to play, the one I would eat, sleep and breathe all the time. I was a big-time golfer. Loved baseball. Loved basketball. But that was the time when you sat me down and said, ‘You need to figure out which one you want to work on the most.”

Dell Curry: We did AAU basketball and baseball in the same summer. That’s when I said, “Hey, you’re going to pick one and stick with it.”

Mychal Thompson: By the time Klay got to ninth grade, that’s when he decided to play basketball. And I always tell him he made a mistake when he did that because — and it hurts me to say this — but he was a heck of a baseball pitcher. Steph. You were probably a good pitcher, too.

Stephen Curry: I was a middle infielder and center fielder. I didn’t pitch.

Mychal Thompson: Man, Klay had a curveball that looked like Clayton Kershaw’s. And being a 6-foot-7 pitcher, too? (Laughter) But he’s doing all right I guess. He could have been a big time prospect but he gave it up for basketball.

Klay Thompson: I was too slow.

Q: To Dell and Mychal, what advice from your own dads did you pass down to this generation?

Mychal Thompson: I always tell Klay: Respect the game. Appreciate the game. This is a privilege to play in the NBA. Don’t take it for granted. I told this to Klay. I said, “Listen man, your worst day in basketball is going to be better than your best day when basketball is over.” Because when you have a hard time at practice, when you can’t make a shot, when you’re achy and the coach is yelling at you, someday you’re going to say, ‘Those were some good days.’ Even the bad days, I miss. So as we go along in this journey, as these young men start out in their careers, appreciate every day. Don’t take one day for granted. That’s what I always try to tell Klay and my other sons.

Dell Curry: Same here. Like he said, it’s a privilege to play in the league. You’re so blessed and it’s special to be one of the 300 players or whatever it is in the league. Don’t take it for granted. And then, with basketball: It’s what you do but don’t let it be your life. You work hard. You want to win a title. You do everything you can to get there. But when it’s over, you still have to live your life. When I retired, I just stopped playing basketball. That’s the only thing in my life that changed. I’d like to see same thing for him.

Q: Mychal, you talked about being frank on the air and you’re fine if Klay is going to miss a shot against the Lakers. How do you handle it when these guys get criticism from others? When Steph was struggling with his ankle injury and fans started getting impatient, how do you deal with that as a father

Dell Curry: I don’t, to be honest with you. I know what it’s like as a player. You have to block all that stuff out. As a parent, you have to do the same thing. You talk to him. You know how your son is feeling. You know he wants to play. So it doesn’t bother me.

Mychal Thompson: For me — and I don’t want to say this without sounding arrogant, Dell — but it would bother me more if it came from someone like Dell Curry or a Clyde Drexler. If a former peer who understands the game starts criticizing your son, whether it’s justifiable or not, that hurts more. But if it’s some pundit or some blogger says something, they don’t know. They haven’t played. It would hurt more if it was a respected guy like Dell. That hurts because those guys understand what it takes to play at this level. So when they do rip Klay or Steph, I just think, ‘Those people don’t know what they’re talking about.’

Q: To Steph and Klay, what advice are you going to pass on to your kids that you got from your dad?

Stephen Curry: Hmm … Really, it’s family first. When you have family, you have support system no matter what happens in life. Things will be all right. They supported me and anything I was interested in growing up. They allowed me to venture out and figure out what I wanted to do. They had good advice and a watchful eye, but I had some freedom to pick and choose what I was interested in and kind of go at it.

Klay Thompson: Yeah, just like what Steph said. I’m not going to force my kid to do basketball, or even any sport. Hopefully he does love sports because it’s a lot of fun. But if he wants to be an architect or artist or, shoot, movie director — it doesn’t matter to me.

Mychal Thompson: Or ‘she.’

Klay Thompson: Or ‘she.’ That’s right. Volleyball player. It doesn’t matter. As long as they do what they love and give it their all, that’s all I can ask for really. I can just try to teach them discipline and time management and all that good stuff. That’s all you can do.

by Daniel Brown, Times Herald Online

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