By Joanna Delalande

Strong in the face of injury

Stephen Curry
There is a prize no physical trophy can top, says NBA MVP Stephen Curry

Monday April 25 brought Golden State Warrior point guard Stephen Curry the last news a basketball player wants to hear, when an MRI revealed a sprain in his right knee.

The injury occurred in the first half of the Golden State's Game 4 victory when Stephen slipped on a wet spot in the court.

And it came at a bad time, mere months before the Rio Olympics for which the 27-year-old hoped to be qualified.

"I'm definitely excited to be part of the Olympic team," Stephen told journalists at a conference regarding the prospect of making his Olympic debut this year.

"To have that experience in Rio for the Olympics will be a dream come true. With the culture down there, the sights, and just the whole Olympic experience, it should be a once-in-a-lifetime memory."

The opinion among basketball followers was he had a pretty good chance of making it. Stephen, who happens to be considered the best basketball player in the world currently in action, was among the 30 finalists for the 2016 US Olympic team.

But despite this initial excitement, the player announced in June he had opted to withdraw his name from the list of eligible players for Team USA's roster. Part of the reason, he explained, was his recent injury.

"My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family," he said.

"However, due to several factors – including recent ankle and knee injuries – I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career. It's an incredible honor to represent your country and wear 'USA' on your chest, but my primary basketball-related objective this summer needs to focus on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA season."

This is far from the first time Stephen has had to deal with the frustration of injury.

This year alone he suffered an ankle wound in February, and before that, in January, a shin injury that took four weeks to heal.

"It's just frustrating and annoying and any other adjective you want to throw in there," Curry told reporters at the time.

Despite this, Stephen is known for having a humble and mature approach to his game.

"I love to play the game, and I love when good things happen," he says.

"But when I get home, it's about my family and just enjoying the blessings in my life without letting [basketball] define my personality or my character."

Shortly after his injury Stephen tweeted: "Thanks for all the prayers and messages. Can feel all the positive energy. God is great! All things considered I'm gonna be all right!"

What defines him, he says, is Christ, whom he credits for the talent and success that has seen him come this far as a basketball player.

"Obviously, there's a lot of hoopla and fanfare that follows you wherever you go, but I know where my talent comes from," Stephen told Decision in December last year.

"I know why I play the game, and it's not to score 30 points a night, but it's to use the stage I'm on. I've been put here for a specific purpose: to be a witness and to share my testimony as I go through it."

In a move that has become his signature, Stephen pounds his chest and points to the sky when he makes a shot or a good pass. He says he loves to point people toward "the Man who died for our sins on the cross. I know I have a place in Heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that's something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top."

Rio might be off the table, but the sports star is still hopeful about an eventual Olympic debut. In the meantime, we'll be looking out for that signature move during the next NBA season.

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