Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu relationship, explained: Warriors and Liberty stars’ history as Bay Area standouts

Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu will meet on the basketball court at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday night, but it will hardly be the first meeting between the two.

The Warriors and Liberty stars are two of the premier talents in each of their respective leagues. Curry will undoubtedly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and regarded as the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA. Ionescu is still early in her career, but the former first-overall pick is already a two-time All-Star and one of the most feared scorers in the WNBA.

The two made headlines when discussing the possibility of meeting up in a one-on-one 3-point shooting contest, an event that will now come to fruition on Saturday as part of the 2024 NBA All-Star Game festivities.

This pairing is certainly not by accident. Both Curry and Ionescu have immense respect for one another’s game, but more than that, they also have a relationship that dates back over a decade.

Here’s what you need to know about the history between the two stars.

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Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu relationship, explained

Ionescu is a Bay Area native, having been born in Walnut Creek, Calif., which is just outside San Francisco and Oakland, and she went to high school in Orinda, Calif., which is even closer to the two major cities.

The Associated Press reported Ionescu and her family had season tickets to Warriors’ games growing up. By the time she got to college at Oregon, where she was a triple-doubles machine, all of a sudden it was Curry attending her games.

When Oregon came to play against Cal in 2020, Curry took his daughters to see the Ducks play and recalled how she came to talk to him and his daughters. 

“This is a pretty awesome experience,” Curry said after attending the game, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. “This is their first women’s basketball game, so I’m excited to share that with them. Riley has been asking about it all day. ‘When are we going? When are we going?’ So, hopefully, Sabrina teaches her something.”

Around this time, Curry and Ionescu began to know each other better. Ionescu recalled over time getting to know him on a texting basis, being able to ask him for advice any time.

“I love having a relationship with [Curry], just being able to remember when I was little, watching him and kind of emulating my game after him, to now being able to call him or text him any time that I need help with something,” Ionescu told ESPN’s Maria Taylor, per NBC Sports Bay Area.

During Ionescu’s first year in the WNBA, she injured her ankle and wound up missing nearly the entire season, playing only three games. She explained in an interview with Dime that Curry was there to help her get through the recovery process for the injury.

“I talk to [Steph] regularly,” Ionescu tells Dime. “It’s always a full circle moment to be able to grow up watching them on TV and on a court, and then be able to pick up the phone and call them if you need to. I know what that feels like, and I want to be that for younger athletes as well, using that experience that I have to want to be that mentor for a lot of others as well. I never want to take those moments for granted.”

Over the past year, the two have hinted that a 3-point shooting contest might come up at some point. Ionescu set the 3-point contest record (for NBA or WNBA) with 37 points last year during the WNBA’s All-Star festivities, and afterward, she tweeted at Curry about a shootout.

Curry responded days later that he needs to “go after Sabrina’s record” and said the two need to “settle that one for sure.” On Thursday, Jan. 25, Curry hinted in a mic’d up moment with teammate Brandin Podziemski that the two might be headed for a showdown.

They have played against one another in contests before. They have reportedly played H.O.R.S.E. against one another, with Ionescu appearing to have been the winner in the contest, according to the Associated Press.

As for who will win this one, NBA players appear to be split on whether Curry or Ionescu will wind up taking the win.

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