OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry's first contact with Kobe Bryant came when he was a 19-year-old sophomore at Davidson College. He attended Bryant's annual skills camp in Orange County and soaked in whatever knowledge he could from a player who had already established himself as an NBA icon.
"That was when I was a shooting guard, so it was pretty cool," said Curry, grinning.
Curry paid a poignant tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers star following Warriors practice Tuesday in advance of Bryant's final appearance at Oracle Arena Thursday night. He also reflected on the first time he ever stepped on a court to play against Kobe, and how his heart was pounding going against a player he had watched so many times growing up.
"I got that moment out of my system maybe the third or fourth preseason game I ever played," Curry recalled. "We played them at the Forum. It was pretty cool just to be in that building for one, but also to go against Kobe for the first time. After that, you kind of had to be ready to go. You couldn't have that star-struck moment any more.
"I let it go the first time, but you have to have that competitive fire against him because he has the same look in his eye and you know he's going to go right at you. Those are cool moments, though, to come in to the league and play against the greats that you watched all the time and try to establish your own."
Curry said he feels honored to be one of the players who will pick up Bryant's standard-bearing torch once the Lakers veteran hangs it up at the end of his 20th NBA season this year.
"The greats set the stage and advance the league and create history and they pass the torch off to the next generation," he said. "That's the fun part about it. I know Kobe really appreciates that part of it, just hearing him talk about how other players in the league like myself that watched him growing up were impacted by what he did on the court.
"You know the game's in such a much better place because Kobe played in the league for 20 years," Curry continued. "We appreciate all he's done and we want to keep doing the game justice as we do what we do in our careers. He's a great example, obviously, of what to do on the court, and at least for myself, I want to take that and keep it going."
Even though the Warriors must play at Denver Wednesday night before facing the Lakers, Curry couldn't help but look ahead to Bryant's final appearance at Oracle. He expects it to be a special night.
"I'm sure there'll be huge fanfare and applause here when he comes, as there should," he said. "He's done so much for the game. And being in the Pacific Division his entire career, he's had plenty of battles up here so I'm sure the fans will give him a great response.
"The game will go on and what not, but having the seen the reaction in different arenas he goes to for the last time, it's cool to see the teams pay respect to a guy who's been at the top for a very long time. We want to get the win, obviously, but hopefully he'll have his moment."