CLEVELAND, Ohio (Christian Examiner) -- Golden State won its first NBA championship Tuesday night in 40 years, and team leader Stephen Curry – the league's regular season MVP – credited God the same way he does every game, even during crunch time.
With millions watching at home on ABC and Cleveland furiously clawing back in the fourth quarter, Curry sidestepped a Cavalier defender and calmly sank a deep 3-pointer, and then pointed skyward, giving praise to the One he credits for his talent.
It is an action that Curry does after every big shot, no matter the stage.
"I try to use each and every game as an opportunity to witness. ... It's a way to kind of preach the message in little ways that I can," Curry said during a 2013 interview with Active Faith Sports. "Each game is an opportunity to be on a great stage and to be a witness for Christ."
The Warriors beat the Cavaliers 105-97, winning the series 4-2 to cap a record season in which they won a franchise-record 67 games. Curry was the regular season MVP after averaging 23.8 points per game, setting an NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a regular season, and leading the league in free throw percentage (91.4 percent).
Incredibly, he made more 3-pointers in this year's postseason (98) than the combined total of every team in the 1980 NBA playoffs (90). His 98 postseason 3-pointers were a league record.
Curry's sharp-shooting was a big reason Golden State won the championship, but it is his faith that has made him even more of a standout. When he accepted the MVP trophy, he made Christ a centerpiece of his speech.
"First and foremost I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talents to play this game, with the family to support me, day in, day out. I'm His humble servant right now and I can't say enough how important my faith is to who I am and how I play the game," he told a packed room of media representatives.
Curry frequently mentions his faith on his Twitter account. In fact, his Twitter profile lists his career No. 6 on the list: "Believer. Husband to @ayeshacurry, father to Riley, son, brother. Golden State Warriors guard. Davidson Wildcat. Philippians 4:13."
Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me") may be one of his favorite verses, but two years ago he and his wife got matching tattoos on their wrists that partially quote a different verse: 1 Corinthians 13:8. The tattoo reads, in Hebrew, "love never fails."
His teammate, Andre Iguodala, won the NBA Finals MVP award Tuesday, and afterward called Curry a "God-fearing man." Iguodala himself is a Christian and even took a moment to thank the NBA's chaplains during the postgame show on ABC.
"We've got a team full of believers," said Iguodala, who became the first NBA player ever to win the Finals MVP after not starting a single regular season game. Iguodala was a sub until the Finals. "We all go to chapel before every game, and we all say God has a way for you, a purpose for you. This (playing off the bench) is my purpose, and I accepted it. I've got great teammates."
Curry called it a "special group" of players.
"From the time we started the season, this is what we envisioned," he said. "A lot of hard work goes into it."
Curry has said in the past that he wants to give thanks to God, no matter the outcome.
"I've had a lot of great moments in my career and a lot of down moments, but I try to praise Him the same because of the opportunity He's given me and the blessings He's put in my life," he told Active Faith Sports. "When I step on the floor, people should know who I represent, who I believe in. We've been blessed with talents to play sports on a high level, and each time it's in His name that we go out there and perform."
He added, "There's so many things that we have to overcome in this life. Jesus and His work on the cross -- He's paid the ultimate price for us, so I'm proud to be a child of God."