"I just want to say, 'I apologize for us being healthy. I apologize for us playing who's in front of us. I apologize for all the accolades we've received as a team and individually. I'm very, truly sorry.' We'll rectify that situation this year." -Wardell Stephen Curry II
Curry owed us that. After all, Steph and the Warriors lucked their way into a 67 win season (with a double digit point differential) en route to slaughtering each of his "All-NBA" teammates in the playoffs, leaving only a bloody wake of coaching vacancies in his path. Every single coach that went up against Curry and the Warriors in the 2015 NBA Playoffs lost their job. Monty Williams lost his job that summer. Kevin McHale and David Blatt followed early in the regular season. Dave Joerger completed the flush a few days ago.
Besides being the league's top ticket seller and ratings machine, Steph Curry jerseys became the most sought after uniform in the league, even unseating two-time champion Lebron James, who's ability to take over a game, a team, a coaching staff, and a front office is definitely NOT ruining basketball. The real Finals MVP tried his best to prevent Curry from ruining the sport, but his team and coaching staff couldn't keep up with him, and he was forced to play Curry and the Dubs alone. He fought valiantly, alone against an army of Warriors, like an on-court version of Boromir's last stand, putting up around 97 PPG on something like 15% shooting from the field.
Somehow, it wasn't enough, as the lucky Warriors went on to win the Finals behind Andrew Bogut's illegal screens, Draymond Green's constant whining, the biased refs who have always favored the Warriors, and of course, Curry's gimmicks. The King was denied his third championship in only six Finals appearances, as Curry took the Boromir reference to heart, firing arrows from far away like a coward while Lebron continued to play the right way, backing the ball into the post for isolation play after beautiful isolation play. Oakland hosted a championship parade for the first time since people actively rooted for Jose Canseco.
Curry won the 2015 MVP award, and I was forced to write an article titled Stephen Curry: The Rise of the MVP, or possibly lose my career as an unpaid sportswriter. No, I never actually received an ultimatum from Nate Parham or the SB Nation leadership, but I can recognize patterns when I see them. I can recognize the writing when it's on the wall. Coaches, analysts, even sports bloggers... no one is safe from the wrath of Stephen Curry. Even the most respected officials in the league run for cover when Steph laces up his Under Armours. Do you really think it's a coincidence that the NBA's most experienced and beloved officials, Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford, both retired during Steph's career? Yeah right. What are you going to tell me next, that Milli Vanilli can't sing?
Steph didn't apologize for that. He sent people to the unemployment line faster than a bankster with a business contract. He stole James Harden's MVP and cheated Lebron out of another title. He promised to "rectify" the situation, but he didn't. Instead, he made everything way worse! He went on to "ruin" basketball, according to his former head coach Mark Jackson (who's insightful analysis is second only to his savvy with the clipboard), and the numbers this season back that up.
Despite leading the league in scoring with 30.1 ppg, he couldn't be counted on to close out games. Head coach Steve Kerr was forced to follow super coach Keith Smart's blueprint, and kept Curry on the bench throughout the 4th quarters of 25% of the teams games. The Warriors won those games. If the Warriors lost those 20 games (atop the 9 actual losses), they'd have won just 53 games and only been a #4 seed in the West (#3 in the East), so Kerr obviously made the right move to go with the guys he could depend on. The national media agreed, awarding Kerr with the Coach of the Year award, mostly for overcoming a roster saddled with Wardell the 2nd. Kerr could have been the COY last year too, but he still played Steph in the 4th quarter back then, and the Warriors only won 67 games.
Steph actually played the least minutes a 30 point scorer ever has, forcing his teammates to step up night after ugly night. If he could have actually helped his team and managed to stay on the floor, his rate stats say he scored 42.5 per 100 possessions. So yeah, leading the league in scoring is great and all, but 30 ppg is nothing like 42.5.
It gets worse.
Scoring doesn't mean anything without context. If you throw the ball in the air enough, eventually you're going to make some shots. Steph Curry definitely threw the ball in the air A LOT, and he missed almost as often as he hit (.504 fg%). Worse, he chucked up 11.2 shots each game from beyond the arc, and only managed to knock down 45% of them. Even though Curry already led the league in three point shooting the previous three seasons (including setting the record twice already), Curry took it to embarrassing levels this season, missing 484 shots from deep while hitting only 402 (surpassing his own record by just 116).
Hall of Fame shooters like Reggie Miller and Ray Allen never chucked up anywhere near that volume of bricks. Ray Allen led the league in attempts one season and he only missed 384 threes that year (41% from deep). Curry missed precisely 100 more threes this season, while only sinking 133 more of them than Ray Ray. It's becoming increasingly obvious that Warriors owner Joe Lacob intends to build the new stadium out of Curry bricks.
Allen Iverson, the man who almost single-handedly saved the NBA by embracing the isolation dribblefest that we all cherish, had this to say:
"He's different. He's something we've never seen. We've never seen this. It's crazy to me, like just me being the biggest Michael Jordan fan, to see somebody come around like this. I have my idea of me being incredible, you know what I mean? But this dude right here, like it's different. It's a whole different monster, as far as his handle and the way he shoots? C'mon. You know you ain't never seen nothing like this."
The numbers say more. Steph shot a league-leading 91% on free throws, obviously not understanding the "free" implies that 100% is the only acceptable answer. And he led the league with 2.1 steals per game, even though he has Bible verses on his shoes. I guess he missed the one that said "Thou shalt not steal". It was kind of a big deal when it came out. More of a divine commandment than a suggestion, really. Literally set in stone, from what I understand.
Still not convinced? How about this little gem: Steph Curry made the most shots in the league (805), but didn't even lead the league in attempts. As a result, his TS% was a paltry .669, bad enough to lead the league.
There's more. So much more. He also somehow led the league in just about every advanced stat conceivable: WS, BPM, PER, WS/48, VORP. This is probably exhibit #1 that advanced stats are terrible, because everyone knows that Lebron is the best (now that Kobe is temporarily retired). And yeah, his being just the second player in history to record a raw +/- over 1,000 is not that great, since teammate Draymond Green holds the #1 spot in that category.
And lest you think that Curry is only a ballhog on the perimeter, let me remind you that he also selfishly led the league in FG% at the rim, too, like the unholy abandoned lovechild of Shaq and Dennis Scott, discovered deep in an Orlando bog after being raised by water moccasins and alligators and swamp apes.
That's all without considering his position as point guard. He didn't even lead his team in assists! He was only 10th in the league in assists, and 7th among point guards, probably because he's just a black hole that kills the team's offense (125 ORtg). He was 6th among point guards in turnovers (per game), and only 3rd in rebounds behind both Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook.
Furthermore, losing nine games in the regular season might be good for the Cleveland Browns, but we expect big things from our defending champs. The Warriors underwhelmed behind Curry this season to the tune of just 73 wins. Ouch.
Curry played when the Warriors' record-setting home winning streak was broken. He was on the floor when the record setting, season opening 24 game winning streak was snapped. And when the Warriors finally lost a game that they led by 15 points. You could tell that Kerr wanted to sit Curry on the bench and win those games, but after witnessing Curry and his prima donna attitude ending the coaching careers of Don Nelson and Mark Jackson, Kerr was understandably nervous about the idea of benching the league's neediest star.
All of his top assistant coaches leave to become head coaches somewhere else, trying to distance themselves from this dumpster fire. Mike Malone, Alvin Gentry, and Luke Walton all left a winning Warriors team to coach lottery teams, probably just to get away from Steph and a one-way ticket to the welfare office.
On May 9, 2016, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the MVP award was going to be mistakenly given to Steph Curry for the second season in a row, despite all of the unemployment, the passing, the defense, and of course, the long range shooting. Draymond Green heard the news and responded:
"... I didn't tell him congratulations."
That same day, Steph Curry returned to the court after abandoning his team for most of the playoffs. His presence on the bench brought problems, and the Warriors found themselves down 14 points in the first few minutes of action. After a pedestrian 23/8/8 line in regulation, Curry ballhogged his way to only 17 more points in the 5 minute overtime period, but the Warriors managed to overcome Curry's game and still beat the Portland Trailblazers at the Rose Garden. 36 minutes of one dimensional Curryball added up to only 40 points, just 9 rebounds, and a barely noticed 8 assists while leading his team in turnovers with 4.
Hipsters everywhere responded, vaping through ironic mustaches. Fair trade coffee, Pabst Blue Ribbons and handrolled American Spirits were dumped into the Columbia River in protest by a sea of men in capri pants riding double decker, fixed gear bicycles and yellow Hummers, the founding fathers of a new nation sending a message to the NBA's royalty that even they, the heroes of progressive thought, would not stand for this false idol, this paper tiger, this diminutive shooter, this blight on the sport.
Too little, too late. Wardell Stephen Curry II just set another record, becoming the first player to ever win the MVP award with a unanimous vote.
Yup, that's right. Unanimous.
The Warriors are 9 wins away from their goal, and the best player in the world is healthy, rested, and ready to prove to the world that he is the greatest player on the greatest team of all time.
I hope he's extra sorry, because I can't imagine what performance the next apology will bring. I can't wait to find out.
Obviously (I hope) much of this article has been tongue-in-cheek. For realsies though, congratulations Steph!!! Thank you for another incredible season! Your skill, work ethic, professionalism, and character is without peer, and I can't think of a better man to represent the Curry family, the Warriors, and the NBA. Thanks for raising the bar for what we can expect from an NBA team and a superstar athlete. I consider myself blessed to get to write another MVP article about you, and I look forward to doing it again next season! I've watched thousands of basketball games, and no one compares to you!