Well this was … eye-opening. Beat reporter Marcus Thompson dropped this Easter egg on us Wednesday night, calling Steph Curry by his birth name following Golden State’s 121-99 victory over visiting San Antonio. For those who missed it, here was the exchange.
Curry raised an eyebrow when Thompson addressed him as “Wardell” before proceeding to answer the question. While most probably assumed Curry’s first name was Stephen, that’s actually his middle name. As alluded to by Thompson, the two-time MVP’s full name is Wardell Stephen Curry, the same as his father, former Hornets sharpshooter Wardell “Dell” Curry. That may be common knowledge to some, but for others, Wednesday’s reveal of Curry’s first name was a legitimate stunner, not dissimilar to when Seinfeld fans first learned Kramer’s true identity.
Based on his confused reaction to “Wardell,” Curry seems to prefer “Steph,” though obviously Thompson felt close enough to the Warriors star, who he wrote a best-selling biography about in 2017, to call him by his given name. Either that, or Thompson was trying to get a rise out of the two-time MVP. If that was Thompson’s plan, well mission accomplished.
The Steph/Wardell debate prompted a discussion on our Slack channel about other athletes who go by different first names including T.Y. Hilton (birth name “Eugene”), Cliff Lee (“Clifton”) and Mookie Betts (“Markus”). This phenomenon is also seen in Hollywood where actors Will Ferrell (real name “John”), Jason Sudeikis (“Daniel”) and Andy Samberg (“David”) all go by their middle names.
Whether you’re more partial to Steph, Stephen or Wardell, there’s no denying Curry is off to a brilliant start, averaging 28.1 points per game (tied with Portland’s Damian Lillard for third-best in the NBA) through 14 appearances. And for what it’s worth, my name really is Jesse Pantuosco.