You probably know that ESPN analyst Mark Jackson is a pastor, and that when he was the coach of the Golden State Warriors, he did not exactly draw clear dividing lines between his two jobs. What you probably don’t know is that, one time, he invited star guard Stephen Curry to his church, True Love Worship Center International, where Curry’s injured ankle became the center of attention.
The Bay Area News Group’s Marcus Thompson told the story in his new book, “Golden,” and Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt:
A part of the tradition at Jackson’s church was a spirited service including worshippers jogging along the walls of the congregation in praise. Curry, two days removed from his latest sprain, found himself taking laps with Jackson and the other members filled with the spirit. Then after Jackson’s sermon, his wife and co-pastor, Desiree, continued the worship with an impromptu sermon and benediction. She also called Curry to the altar.
They took off his shoes and socks, anointed his ankle with oil and prayed for healing. The parishioners lifted their voices in chants and amens, calling on God to bless one of His Christian ambassadors. Service at Jackson’s church was much more passionate and engaging than Curry was used to back in Charlotte. But he humbly accepted the blessing that was being offered and returned to his seat with a smile on his face.
“Where you going?” Desiree asked the star point guard in front of the congregation. Curry responded with his go-to look of bewilderment, a half smile and widened eyes. He thought he was supposed to return back among the flock when she was done.
“You don’t get a blessing from the Lord and just walk off!” she shouted. “Show us you believe in the power of God.”
It took Curry a second to understand what she meant. Then the old Bible stories rushed to his mind. Like when Jesus healed the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, that man had to pick up his mat and walk. If he believed he was healed, he needed to show it.
So Curry started shimmying and hopping on his right foot, much to the delight of the congregation.
“I didn’t know what else to do,” Curry said.
This all took place right at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, in which Curry played 76 games. The previous season, he had suffered five separate ankle injuries and only appeared in 26 games. The story of how Curry lessened the load his ankles and became one of the most durable players at his position is mostly about sports science and a ton of deadlifts, but I suppose the prayers couldn’t have hurt.