Commons Connections: One Quirky Video Unites Lifelong Friends
Every couple of years, somebody new discovers the video.
It often happens around NBA playoffs, when search engines spit out tides of tidbits about Stephen Curry.
And there on YouTube for the world to see is pro basketball’s reigning MVP as an especially young-looking college kid rapping homage to Davidson’s iconic dining hall.
The “I Love Commons” video has had almost 1.3 million views on YouTube since its 2009 campus debut. And while curiosity about Curry has driven clicks by hordes of strangers, a much smaller group—the stars and producer—find themselves reconnecting whenever the video resurfaces.
“Davidson is such a quirky place. We weren’t trying to make it for anybody but Davidson people, and didn’t think anybody but Davidson people would ever see it,” says Steve Rossiter ’10, Curry’s Wildcat teammate, close friend and fellow video rapper. “We were just having a good time, trying to make something everyone enjoyed. Every time it goes viral, it brings us back to those days of two-hour dinners, talking and laughing with great friends.”
The video started as a conversation around a Commons table, that like so many, went from random idea to boisterous back and forth. Someone started humming the Asher Roth tune “I Love College’’ substituting “I Love Commons.” New lyrics spilled out, and they headed to Chambers to write them all down.
The group of basketball, soccer and football players turned to classmate and video and photography wizard Austin Bell ’10, then producer of The Davidson Show, a student run sketch comedy TV show. They spent the weekend shooting scenes at Commons and around campus.
They decided to show the video at The Davidson Awards Show the following Monday. To entice people to come, Bell wrote an email that Curry sent (against college rules) from his account to all students.
“This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve done during college,” it said. “Going to the Elite 8 was great, but this... Thanks and God Bless, Stephen.”
A standing-room-only crowd of about 700 packed the Duke Family Performance Hall to watch the video’s premier. When Curry entered the NBA draft days later, it went viral, appearing on ESPN.com and other news websites. When his NBA career took off and his superstar bona fides became established, it went viral again, and has won mentions in outlets ranging from the New York Times to Sports Illustrated to MTV.
With apologies to Number 30, a common theme has emerged from media critics: Curry’s a great basketball player, but it’s good he doesn’t rap for a living.
Curry the Connector
Fame and wealth often put a weird spin on friendship. People get jealous. Glamorous new friends sometimes replace old ones. Little hurts turn into big schisms.
That hasn’t happened with Curry, friends say.
“I was lucky to have gone to school with him, lucky to have been on the team with him and lived with him for a year, and I’m lucky to call him my friend,” Rossiter says. “We don’t see each other too often these days but the minute we do, we fall right back into the friendship we’ve always had.”
Bell met Curry during their first year at Davidson. They had different friend groups but when Curry learned they both lived in Belk, he asked, “Why don’t I know you?”
“It wasn’t like he thought I should know him because of basketball, it was him being the social director. It really surprised him when he didn’t know someone at Davidson,” Bell says. “He really wanted to know everyone.”
Bell says his respect grew when Curry and his friends staged takeovers of The Davidson Show. They wrote and performed skits, and the show’s popularity grew. One night during editing, he and Curry ended up being the last ones there.
“It was like 1 a.m., and I said ‘Stephen, don’t you have an early class tomorrow?’” Bell says. “He had an 8:30, but he didn’t want to leave until it was finished. If his name was going to be on it, he wanted full involvement and would see it through to the end.”
Bell, who’s based in North Carolina, works in video production and travels the world as a photographer. He last saw Curry during the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte.
“I got to give him some crap, he gave me some, and we laughed a lot,” Bell says. “He’s still so genuine. He’s this crazy mix of goofy, hardworking, funny and loyal.”
Rossiter lives in Los Angeles, works in sales, and moonlights in content creation and production. He’s currently working with a new dating app start up, and “still flying solo.”
Twelve years ago, Curry traveled from California to Davidson to attend what would have been his commencement ceremony if he hadn’t left for the NBA. He cheered on Rossiter, Bell and other 2010 classmates. In August, Rossiter traveled from California to Davidson to watch his friend get his diploma. Most of Curry’s Wildcat teammates also came for the commencement, jersey retirement and college Hall of Fame induction ceremony. They continued the celebration at a reception afterward.
“Before I knew how big of a deal his day was going to be I asked him if I should come,” Rossiter says. “He said it would be amazing to have his guys there, so I immediately booked my flight.
“He’s one of my favorite people in the world and that was one of the best days ever at Davidson. Having everyone together celebrating Stephen’s latest accomplishments was so special and meaningful.”
Time has elapsed, but friendship—(and a silly video)—live on.
“It gets harder to bring everyone back together,” Rossiter says. “People are married, they’ve got kids and busy work lives. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like to.
“That’s one of the many great things about Steph: He’s the gift that keeps giving, by always bringing us back together.”
This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2022 print issue of the Davidson Journal Magazine; for more, please see the Davidson Journal section of our website.