Ice water in the veins. A wicked crossover dribble. The lethal jump shot. The Steph Curry affect. Catch it while you can. That’s what the Golden State Warriors have done, riding the league’s MVP all the way to the NBA Finals. As former Golden State coach and now current ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Mark Jackson would say, “Momma, there goes that man.” Curry is that man.
For the Warriors, Curry has been that “guy” since he came into the NBA from tiny Davidson College as the No. 7 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Being that “guy” has turned Curry into one of the defacto faces of the NBA. That “guy” will now match skills in the Finals with that other face of the league, some fella who go by the name of LeBron James.
It should be some fun this NBA Finals. The locomotive squaring off against “The Kid.” The battle-tested warrior going up against the upstart. The league’s MVP trying to do his thing against the game’s best player for the past five years. For sure, this will be one entertaining NBA Finals. The eyeballs will be there. Curry, and his cast of running buddies, have a lot to do with that.
Just a couple of years ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder with a one-time roster that included Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Houston Rockets star James Harden, were the rock stars of the NBA with their youthfulness and dynasty potential. That never really panned out for OKC. The league and its fans has moved on from an OKC bunch that never developed.
The Los Angeles Clippers with their three stars in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have turned around the franchise and have gained a whole new legion of fans worldwide. But the Clippers’ recent success has been circumvented in the postseason the last several years, opening the door to critique that they haven’t gotten there yet as a team. So that means moving on to the newest and shiniest toy. That would be Curry and the Warriors.
When you watch him play, Curry plays the game of basketball with the bouncing energy of a teenager and with the joy of a child unwrapping a gift from under the Christmas tree. He’s having fun. Lots of it. Curry is fun to watch. That’s make it tough to root against the baby-faced, basketball assassin.
He’s so likable. Curry makes you want to root for him. There are no airs about the NBA’s regular season MVP. He is as genuine as that sweet, 3-point stroke he launches with the ease of sipping hot tea. So are the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors’ trajectory ascent from a team staring at the ashes of the NBA dweller to playing in the NBA Finals has been a natural progression in the five seasons Curry has been in the league.
But the way the Warriors has taken over the league and have been able to captivate NBA fans at the same time has been a direct link to the unmistakable makeup of the charismatic Curry. Curry smiles all the while he is heaving up 3-point daggers on his opponents. He weaves his way through opposing defenses for an open look at the basket with the ease of a deer navigating its way through a dense forest.
Shooting the basketball at 3-point range might as well be a layup for Curry, who makes nearly half of his attempts from long distance. But that is not the totality of what makes Curry a special player. Now that he has become one of the leading faces for the NBA, Curry can be considered to be the future.
As a combo guard, Curry possess an unreal handle, knows how to get his teammates involved (7.7 assists per game during the 2014-15 regular season), and if he needs to take matters into his own hands, can rack up the points in bunches as he has done against the Houston Rockets during the Western Conference Finals.
Curry is the real deal. Special players know how to elevate their teams. With the 3-point shot being a key arsenal for teams these days, Curry has become the master at dropping high-arching bombs from long distance with the aplomb of a surgeon doing his thing at the operating table. Making nearly half of his 3-point shot attempts (.443 percent for the 2014-2015 season), Curry shoots the three like he’s chilling in his backyard somewhere.
But shooting the basketball isn’t what Curry the MVP. There are plenty of scorers in the league. They come a dime a dozen. His father, Dell Curry, was a great outside shooter in his own right. Curry has taken his pops’ NBA pedigree to a level where it’s ridiculous. And it’s how he does it, where he does it, when he does it and the way he can take over the end of a game that has elevated him from budding star to superstar.
Just ask the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, two of the tougher teams in the Western Conference that Curry and the Warriors had no problems dispatching this postseason. Now it’s LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ turn to try to shut down the Bay Area whiz. That’s a lot easier to do on paper and talking about it.