Life in the fast lane

THE LAST SLIVER of the Oakland afternoon sunlight shines through the windows of Stephen Curry's high-rise condo. In the distance, the traffic on Interstate 880 slogs along. "It looks worse than it actually is," Curry says. "We'll be good."

He gives his wife, Ayesha, a kiss. "Love you," he tells her before dashing out the door.

Curry's friend Jason Gaines is in town, and today he's driving the point guard's 2013 Porsche Panamera to Oracle Arena. Sitting shotgun with iPad in hand, Curry cues up the same playlist he does every time -- one of many game-day superstitions -- on his typical 17-minute commute. That list includes Lupe Fiasco, Swedish House Mafia and Lecrae. "This is the time I use to get in the right frame of mind," Curry says.

The needle on the speedometer never gets past 30 mph during the 7.3-mile drive on I-880 as jokes fly about a familiar topic for Curry: being light-skinned. "They're trying to phase us out," says Curry. "We're like white tigers."

As they arrive at the players parking lot, Curry has Gaines back into a spot next to Jarrett Jack's ride. "I have to back in or I don't feel right," Curry says. He pops out of his car and another superstition reveals itself: He waves to the female parking attendant across the lot. "Gotta do that," he says. Once inside he hugs several members of arena security.

The optimistic mood in the building can largely be attributed to the 24-year-old. He has helped turn around the fortunes of a long-suffering franchise and looks to lead the Warriors to their first postseason appearance since the 2006-07 season. With career highs of 20.5 points and 6.6 assists per game (through Jan. 13), Curry is on the brink of his first All-Star appearance. "He's the face of this franchise," says head coach Mark Jackson. "An All-Star, no question about it."

About 90 minutes before tip-off against the Grizzlies, Curry goes through his customary pregame shooting drill: launching roughly 100 shots from behind the arc. When he's done, he stops behind the bench, some 40 feet from the basket, and heaves a two-handed push shot that sails well past the rim. His second attempt caroms off the front iron. The final heave rattles around the rim, then ricochets up and over the backboard.

Once again it looks worse than it actually is. He goes on to score a team-high 24 points -- and makes it seem routine.

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