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Mark Jackson rubbed some oil on Stephen Curry’s surgically repaired ankle in 2012

Mark Jackson rubbed some oil on Stephen Curry’s surgically repaired ankle in 2012

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is now one of the league’s biggest stars, but it once looked like his career could be cut short by persistent ankle injuries. At the time—which appears to be before the 2012-13 NBA season—Curry wasn’t the elite player he is now, but guy with potential, and unreliable ankles.

The promising but unestablished Curry played just 26 of a possible 66 games in 2011-12, his third NBA season, and the $44-million contract extension he signed in the fall of 2012 — which almost immediately became one of the league’s best bargains — looked at the time like a serious risk. Some misguided folks even thought the Warriors should trade Curry for whatever they could get before his ankle problems robbed him of any value.

He had undergone a minor procedure in April of that year and was taking it slowly through training camp. On an off day Curry visited True Love Worship Center International, the church where Jackson and his wife Desiree were pastors. As Thompson explains it, the service included a portion in which the members jogged around, which meant Curry, who was still being careful while healing from his recent surgery, participated.

There was also a scene in which Curry was brought up to the front of the congregation by Desiree, and had his ankle anointed in oil. He had planned on going back to his seat when Jackson’s wife stopped him. From the 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.

Curry played in 78 games that season after 26 in the previous campaign, so that oil might have been Mark Jackson’s most effective move.

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