"I’ve never seen one better. I think he will get better as his shot selection improves. Sometimes when a player like him gets hot he’ll go out there and take shots that may be a little bit suspect, even for him. But when he takes them you think he’s going to make them. And that’s the confidence he has. But I think he’s gonna get better and better as a player."
From the view the GSoM crew had in the cheap seats for last night's Game Four win, there was no such thing as a "suspect" shot for emergent Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry.
Sitting in the stands this weekend for Games Three and Four, I've actually found myself hoping Curry would do us the favor of thrilling us with yet another pull-up three. At some point in the third quarter, Atma verbalized the feeling by saying half-jokingly - or maybe just quarter-jokingly - that Curry needed to be more selfish on the break.
And after a sluggish start to the game, Curry gave us what we wanted in the final seven minutes of the third quarter.
It was all sort of blur at the time, but Curry scored 22 points in under seven minutes including five threes in the third quarter. In the final two minutes of the quarter, Curry went 4-for-5 with 11 points including two of those pull-up threes that we have come to not only expect to go in, but want him to take even if they're contested.
And if you looked around the arena from our birds-eye view, you noticed that we weren't the only ones who have fully bought into this lunacy: every time Curry crossed halfcourt, there was a rising buzz and you'd see a spattering of fans from various spots in the arena leaping from their seats in anticipation of Curry stopping on a dime and launching a three less than five seconds into the shot clock. And even when he's taking shots that most of us wouldn't even bother attempting in a video game, he's actually making them.
Curry is the first Warrior since Tim Hardaway in '91 to score 25+ in 3 straight playoff gms. No player has hit 18 3s in first 4 playoff gms— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) April 29, 2013
My inclination is usually to immediately put aside the emotional stuff and move to more of an analytical space. But right now all I can think about is that I'm not sure I've ever witnessed a player at any level perform at this high a level for this long. It's something special that we should probably cherish and appreciate before trying to dissect and understand.
Especially as Warriors fans: we don't normally get these nice things.
Let's cut to the chase: the rational side of me hates to reduce this game, or even this series, to Curry. In tonight's game, for example, Curry was looking like a mere mortal in the first half: he shot only 1-for-3 though he also contributed five assists and three steals.
And there's plenty of other stuff to talk about in the way the Warriors thoroughly controlled this game - which we'll surely get to later - beginning with this gem:
But when we as playoff-starved fans look back on this series, it's almost unavoidable that we'll be talking about how special Curry was. And it wasn't just the performance on the court - it was the interaction between our team's star, an electric playoff atmosphere in the arena, and the prospect of taking a 3-1 lead as an underdog without the one Warrior who finally managed to get All-Star recognition while Curry was snubbed.
Steph Curry has already put together a playoff performance for the ages. And already there is discussion about whether he's a superstar or the best shooter ever, with some hint of wondering whether he can keep all of this up. And it's tempting to say that this is the kind of special moment that we'll never witness again.
Then again, this is Steph Curry we're talking about here. As Mark Jackson summed up in his presser, Curry has been doing this all season. And as Kenny Smith said on Inside the NBA, there hasn't really been a time when this hasn't been who he is.
"One thing I was saying about Chuck and Shaq about they were saying, 'Can he continue to shoot like this?': he's never not shot like this," Smith said. "He's always shot like this. The only thing now is that he's on this stage that's bigger an better."
I've had the pleasure of seeing two of the greatest shooters in league history in person quite a few times. We all know around here how great Chris Mullin was. While living in Seattle, I could've watched Ray Allen warm-up for hours - his shot is a thing of beauty. I was a huge Reggie Miller fan growing up, in large part because he just had a knack for throwing daggers on the league's biggest stage.
Yet trying to hold on to the experience of this weekend's games, this wasn't about the mechanics, percentages, the scoreboard, or setting records - when you're jumping up and down near the top of the arena, none of that really matters. This is about a player who has managed to capture the imagination of fans who have stuck with a beleaguered franchise and fundamentally stretch the limits of what we consider reasonable.
That's obviously rare for us as Warriors fans. But what Curry is doing right now - challenging what we think of as within reason - is something that any sports fan has to be able to appreciate.