Warriors' Steph Curry once again lends himself to noble cause off the court

·4 min read

Steph again lends himself to noble cause with 'Pizza to the Polls' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Want to get the undivided attention of a college student or most anyone under 30? Offer free pizza.

Want to get the ear of Warriors superstar Stephen Curry? Present an opportunity to discuss the ongoing battle for social justice.

The folks at All Vote No Play (AVNP) utilized those tricks Tuesday while presenting a "Pizza to the Polls" virtual event designed to stimulate engagement toward participating in democracy.

Nearly 2,000 people – including about 900 student-athletes from 25 colleges across 17 states – dug into 250 pizzas while getting words of advice and support from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, legendary Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer and, of course, Curry.

It’s the sort of event that sits in Curry’s sweet spot. Involved in community causes dating back to his teenage years in North Carolina, he capitalizes on his ever-rising profile to raise awareness to causes such as poverty, education and the desire to strive for a more equal America.

“That’s an opportunity to share who you are and share what you believe in and leverage that platform for good,” Curry said. “Be able to change things and be a voice for people who can’t speak for themselves.

“I didn’t know it at the time, when I was at Davidson (College), 18 or 21 years old, or when I got drafted that this would be the life and the opportunity that I’d have. But you never forget where you come from. You always know that basketball and the gifts that you have, and the skill set that you have, you’ve been given for a reason. If you can influence somebody, just one person through that gift, then you’re doing something great with your life.”

AVNP, conceived after the watershed event that was the public murder of George Floyd, is the brainchild of former Stanford basketball player Eric Reveno, now associate head coach at Oregon State. It began with a desire to make election day a “sports holiday,” without games or practices so all involved parties could vote or volunteer – or both.

The NBA agrees, which is why for the 2022-23 season it scheduled no games for Nov. 8, election day in the United States.

“During the pandemic season (2020) in the bubble, (the NBA) had an opportunity as a group to leverage that platform to open up arenas across the country as registration sites for voting for the 2020 election,” Curry said. “And now, the NBA is coming to the forefront and taking a stand, saying ‘We’re not going to have games on election day.’ We want you to get out and vote and not having any distractions or anything in your way.”

Over the past two years, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has gotten behind the AVNP cause, as has the NCAA Student Athletic Committee leadership team, which passed legislation to make All Vote No Play an annual tradition.

The Andrew Goodman Foundation, named after one of three civil rights workers murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964 while trying to help Black citizens register to vote, as well as the Positive Coaching Alliance, are among 35 groups that partner with AVNP, which also has a Coaches Civic Engagement hotline (971-285-7545).

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So, Curry was pleased to donate 25 minutes to chat with students across the country as they munched on pizza.

“Basketball has done so much for me,” Curry said, “in terms of developing a skill set, developing character, developing a work ethic and provided amazing life experiences, now I have the opportunity to say I can be a part of the group that’s changing the narrative of what it means to be an active athlete and encourage people to vote. To be passionate about issues that are near and dear to them. To look out for communities that need resources and programs to be catered to them.

“That little bit of action matters. There’s always a trickle-down effect, across the board. Whether you realize it in the moment or not, it all matters.”

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