Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry says he was just joking when he said that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax, and will accept NASA’s invitation to inspect its moon rocks in Houston.
His comments on Monday set off an uproar, and revived the 40-year-old conspiracy theory that the moon landing actually happened in a sound stage under the careful direction of Martin Scorsese or Stanley Kubrick or something.
Curry even ended up getting a call from NASA inviting him to come for a visit to see proof that this really, actually happened. “We have hundreds of pounds of moon rocks stored there, and the Apollo mission control,” NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel told the New York Times. “During his visit, he can see firsthand what we did 50 years ago, as well as what we’re doing now to go back to the moon in the coming years, but this time to stay.”
Curry made his comments on The Ringer‘s Winging It podcast. He asked, “We ever been to the moon?”
Two other NBA players on the show, Vince Carter and Kent Bazemore, answered no.
“They’re going to come get us, I don’t think so either,” Curry said. Then: “Sorry, I don’t want to start conspiracies.”
Curry then repeated to the podcast’s cohost, Annie Finberg, that he didn’t think the moon landing happened.
“Obviously I was joking when I was talking on the podcast. [Then] I was silently protesting how stupid it was that people actually took that quote and made it law as, ‘Oh my God, he’s a fake-moon-landing truther,’ whatever you want to call it, yada, yada, yada. So I was silently protesting that part about it, how the story took a life of its own.”
Steph, so much respect for you, but re the moon landing thing, let’s talk. DM me. https://t.co/BXYxPF4zz1
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) December 11, 2018
To Curry’s credit he was thoughtful about who his comments might influence, and he tried to turn the whole thing into . . . a teachable moment for an era of disinformation!
“I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe.”
The moon landing conspiracy theories are surprisingly mainstream. Opinion polls over the years have shown that between 6% and 20% of Americans believe the moon landing was faked. A 2001 documentary called Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? (narrated, perplexingly, by Skinner from The X Files) claimed to have proof that NASA faked the first moon landing in 1969 so that it could win the space race with Russia.
At an event on Wednesday, Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the moon and noted puncher of moon conspiracy theorists, weighed in on Curry’s remarks. He told a reporter to tell the NBA star to “go ask the Russians” who landed on the moon. But, CBS reported, “It wasn’t clear specifically what Aldrin was referring to.”
Meanwhile, NASA is planning a return. Last month, the agency announced an aggressive timeline for new partnerships with private companies that it hopes will return the U.S. to the moon sometime in the next decade. This week, China’s new Chang’e 4 spacecraft entered lunar orbit, and is scheduled to land in January on the dark side of the moon–a first for any man-made object.
On ESPN, Curry elaborated on his initial silence after the controversy entered the stratosphere. “There’s way more serious stuff that’s going on in our world that this doesn’t necessarily deserve that much attention,” he said. “But again, I got a NASA invite out of it and I am going to enjoy it.”