Just saying his name alone makes you think of basketballs swishing through nets, ankles being broken with lethal crossovers, shots being taken from seemingly impossible distances and all the other things he does so well. But Stephen Curry’s name evokes another feeling: joy.
The Golden State Warriors are currently the best show in hoops, thanks in large-part to the walking highlight-reel that is Stephen Curry. People show up to his games extra early just to watch his warmup routine. He dazzles crowds with his ball-handling and three-pointer-splashing. He’s turned season ticket-holders of other teams into Golden State fans. But above all else, Curry has made us smile.
Curry delivered fun to the NBA this season. Part of it is because he looks like he shouldn’t be as good as he is. Why is this diminutive, baby-faced player dropping 40+ points on my favorite team? Curry doesn’t have the power of LeBron James, or the height advantage of Kevin Durant, or the athleticism of Russell Westbrook. Curry represents the rest of us who weren’t blessed with these physical skills; he looks like someone who should be working in the cubicle next to you. And yet, there he was, making defenders look stupid and scoring at-will while leading the Warriors to a 73-9 record, the best regular-season record in NBA history.
Though he never acknowledged it, Curry actually had extra incentive to embarrass opposing players. After winning the league MVP last year, the players voted Houston’s James Harden as the Most Valuable Player at the first-annual NBA Player Awards. His peers didn’t truly recognize his greatness, so Curry set out to give them a front row seat as he planted his flag as the best player in the NBA. Behind the smiles and the excitement he would exhibit, there was a coldness to Curry, a lack of remorse for the opponents who still needed convincing of his greatness.
Last year’s MVP-campaign saw Curry post averages of 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds. This season, Curry averaged a league-leading 30.1 points with 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds while becoming just the seventh player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club with a 50.4 shooting percentage from the field, 45.4 percent from beyond the arc and 90.8 percent from the free-throw line. He absolutely shattered the his own NBA record of 286 three-pointers, which he set last year, with 402 triples this season.
Can anyone deny his greatness at this point? The so-called “haters” that troll the internet can’t even find a bad word to say about Curry. Any bandwagon Golden State fans couldn’t be looked down upon, because who could blame them? Seeing the electricity emanating throughout Oracle Arena while Curry knocks down three-pointer after three-pointer can make even the people with complete disinterest in basketball want to join in on the fun.
Due to the Warriors’ historical season, we often heard detractors compare them to the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who previously held the league-mark for best single-season record at 72-10. Analysts would debate how Curry would fare if he was being defended by Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen while giving Golden State no shot at beating that Chicago team. Why debate the impossible? Why do we feel the need to search for negatives to fulfill the trendy #hottakes? “Golden State is good, but…” “Stephen Curry is good, but…” But nothing! Curry is the best player in the NBA right now and spearheads the best team in the NBA right now. End of story.
We are all indebted to Curry for the joy he brought to our lives this season. From opening the season with 40 points and following with 53 in the third game of the year, to his back-to-back 40-point games in January, to his two 50-point games in February, to the game-winning pull-up jumper from 40 feet out to beat the Thunder, to ending the season with 46 points while eclipsing the 400-three-pointers-mark and earning Golden State’s 73rd win, this season has been nothing short of phenomenal, spectacular and any other superlative you can think of.
Stephen Curry. Most Valuable Player not just because of his play on the court, but because of how his play on the court brought us joy.