NBA superstar Steph Curry says it is important for influential athletes to stand up for their beliefs and is grateful that social media gives them the platform to do so.
Curry has won three NBA Championships with the Golden State Warriors and has twice been named Most Valuable Player.
The American has also spoken openly on social and culture issues.
Here, Curry talks to BBC Sport editor Dan Roan about his views on US President Donald Trump, tennis legend Serena Williams and NFL activist Colin Kaepernick, plus how it feels to be at the peak of his powers and his views on the future of the British game.
‘We have a platform to speak for those that can’t’
Curry has used his platform as one of the world’s greatest athletes to make a stand for the things he believes in.
Last year, the American declined an invite to the White House, following a traditional invitation to celebrate his side’s NBA title success. Curry said the team could “inspire some change” by refusing to visit the home of the president.
Curry says athlete activism and taking a stand “comes with the territory, because the world is small now”.
“If I say something I can tweet it out right now and the whole world can read it, and you can own that,” he said. “More so than generations that have passed, where it has maybe had to go through a couple of different channels.
“There are more eyeballs and ears around what we want to say.
“We have a platform to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves, and things that are important to us we want to talk about and there is definitely a wave of athletes and influencers that are not afraid of the potential consequences of being disagreed with.”
On expressing his views on the political landscape, the 30-year-old added: “You can do it with respect and you can do it with class, and understand that you’re not disrespecting anybody by having an opinion.
“Obviously for me, with visiting the White House, I said how I felt and tried to provide reasons why I felt that way and let it be, and I’m not going to waver off of that.
“For me, I know you are not going to please everybody in this world, but the whole thing is about spreading love and respect on either side of the conversation.”
‘Kaepernick has done so much good’
Curry and the Golden State Warriors’ fallout with Trump followed a protest by NFL quarterback Kaepernick that divided the country.
Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem in protest at racial injustice and police brutality.
The American, recently unveiled as one of the faces of a major advertising campaign by Nike, is suing the NFL, arguing team owners have since deliberately froze him out because of his activism.
“It is all about empowering people’s voices, making sure what people are speaking on behalf is not taking away from them because of a misunderstanding on how the whole thing started, in terms of not disrespecting the flag by taking a knee,” said Curry.
“We wanted to shine a light on police brutality, on racial inequality and things like that. That’s what the NFL players have stood for and I definitely respect that.
“I’ve talked to Colin plenty of times and have supported a couple of causes he has been a part of, and he understands the risk he took when he made that stand.
“At the end of the day, he has done so much good in terms of helping communities that need help, raising awareness for people that need help, I think that’s all right.”
‘I don’t want my daughters to find barriers’
Curry recently talked in a column for The Players’ Tribune about his two daughters, and how he wants them to “strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly… and paid equally”.
The father-of-three says there is still a lot of work to be done in closing the gender pay gap.
“I have two daughters and I have learned so much in the six years of being a parent on the opportunity to shift their perspectives and what’s possible for them in their lives, whether they pick an industry that’s male dominated or what have you, that they have the opportunities to succeed and excel and rise to the top and that there aren’t any barriers that should be in their way,” said Curry.
“That’s the message you want to send home. When it comes to the pay gap there is a lot of work to be done and it’s not just one essay that is going to change that, it’s about how we in our industries, jobs, communities can empower those that need to be empowered.”
Curry also says he stands by 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams after her outburst in the US Open final, where the American was docked a game and afterwards said her treatment was “sexist”.
“On the court we all have reactions to things that happen,” said Curry.
“I have thrown mouthpieces before, had outbursts you might want to take back, but the way she handled it post-match with how eloquently she put her sentiments around gender equality in her sport and created the conversation we can all assess for ourselves.
“Whether you agree with her or not, there were issues that Serena wants to deal with and those conversations will keep going because she took a stand.
“I encourage women to take stances as they see fit and we need to understand what that means.”
‘British basketball could be huge’
A three-time NBA champion and twice named the league’s Most Valuable Player, Curry was also the first player to sign a contract worth more than $200m.
But the 30-year-old says he is at the peak of his powers, and feels there is more to come.
“I’m hopefully going to stay there for a very long time,” he said. “I feel there’s more in the tank. I have a huge opportunity to win another championship and stay at the top for as long as I can.
“I know how short a career is. You only get so many years to play this game at the level that I do. I keep that same passion and I don’t mind putting the work in.”
However, the American would like to see more funding in the British game.
“Culturally speaking, basketball is a trend-setting sport in terms of how universal it is. It brings a lot of people together. I know football does that as well, but it’s a sport that can open up different skill sets,” he said.
“It could be huge.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/basketball/45528345