TORONTO (KGO) -- On the hardwood at Brampton Christian School an hour outside of Toronto, there is a special excitement for Thursday's matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors. Not only because this is the Raptor's first NBA Finals run in the team's history, but for another reason.
"My name is James Lackey. I want to say how happy I am that you're here Dion. I think I'm the only Warriors fan here in the city!"
Perhaps not the only Dubs fan in Toronto, but as Steph Curry's 8th-grade basketball coach at the now closed-down Queensway school, James is perhaps the Torontonian most closely linked to the Warriors star. He and his wife, Tabitha who now both work at Brampton got to know the Curry family closely when Steph's dad Del played with the Raptors.
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James excitedly shows us his black duffel bag full of mementos.
"This is Steph's actual jersey when he played," says Lackey as he pulls out a large yellow jersey emblazoned with the number 12 on the back.
James explains the jersey was so big on Steph's small frame at the time, it would get tucked into his shorts and then peek out the bottom hem!
"The first time I met Stephen he was 5'2 or 5'3. I was disappointed but once he stepped on the basketball court I had no concern. I had no concerns any more!"
Steph led the Saints to an undefeated 2001 and 2002 season. At the time, his signature shots were just taking shape.
"He was stepping over the half court line and shooting and it would still go in. I never saw anything like that," recalls Lackey, in awe.
But perhaps it was something else that Steph became known that affected all around him.
Tabitha remembers his humble nature and character. How Steph was happier when his teammates scored than when he did.
2019 NBA FINALS SCHEDULE: Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors
It is that character that not only inspires the Lackeys but current players at Brampton.
Tyler Alleyne, a 10th Grader has the utmost respect for Curry's journey and sees him as an inspiration.
"When I see him I think wow-- he did this... how great he's become and how I could potentially be!"
Coach Lackey doesn't think he had any impact on Steph during their short time together-- but Steph sure changed his life.
"Every coach hopes their players will be great-- Steph is someone every coach dreams of."
The Lackeys go to at least one Warriors game a year and every single time when Steph sees him and his wife in the crowd, he'll take time to stop and chat and hang out after the game.
Of course, the Lackeys predict and hope for a four-game sweep by the Warriors.
Check out more stories about the Golden State Warriors and the NBA Finals.
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