It’s 11:30 a.m. in Hangzhou, China. Stephen Curry is on the third leg of his annual Under Armour-sponsored Asia tour. You’d think he’d be tired from the 12-hour jet lag, nonstop promotional appearances, or two-a-day workouts that he’s been powering through the past four days, but the reigning NBA champ seems like he has a bit more bounce in his step than usual. “Curry, Curry with the sauce,” Curry hums to himself as he switches looks for a Chinese-based magazine’s photo shoot at the Four Seasons Hotel. “Yo, I need that song.” The eponymous tune Curry is singing to himself are the only English lyrics to a tribute track recorded by Chinese rap group The Higher Brothers. The musicians, who’ve been described as the Asian version of Migos, debuted the song earlier in the week while the tour was in Chengdu. For Curry, having his own Chinese anthem is just a microcosm of how lauded the player has become in the country. At his hotel, there are close to 1,000 kids with sneakers in their hands camped out in 100-degree weather just looking to get a glimpse of Curry walking through the lobby. Even though he’s not this year’s MVP, he gets “MVP” chants from every crowd he’s in front of. A certified icon in China, he knows he has an opportunity to reach G.O.A.T.-like status with an entirely new generation. A 26-year-old guy might have fun scrolling through 3-1 memes on the internet, but a 13-year-old kid is begging their parents to buy them some Chef Currys. “A lot of the younger generation who are watching the game now don’t remember seeing Michael play. Even the younger, younger generation don’t even know who Kobe is on the court,” Curry said. “This is my time to do me and get the most out of the game that I can. It goes with that off-the-court impression of being able to inspire kids to want to be like me when they grow up…That’s the goal for sure and there’s a huge opportunity to make that happen.” Complex caught up with Curry during his whirlwind Asia tour to talk about reaching icon status, avoiding the championship hangover, and why he gets trash-talked for his good guy image. The following interview took place over a span of four days shadowing Curry through two cities in China and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Steph Curry, the NBA's Global Golden Boy, Can Handle the Good Guy Shade
Complex | Sep 9