First, the facts.
1.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry had the best offensive season in NBA history.
2.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry had, arguably, the greatest single season overall in NBA history.
3.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry hit 402 three point shots. This obliterated the previous record (also his) by 116 three pointers. One hundred. And sixteen.
4.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry became the first ever unanimous MVP in league history. Jordan never did it. LeBron never did it. Shaq never did it. Bird never did it. Only Stephen Curry.
5.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry led a once-moribund franchise to an all-time league-best record of 73-9.
6.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry inspired charts like this, showing just how dumbingly stupidifying his season-long campaign truly was:
And this as well:
7.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry joined this club (equal to or better than 31.4 PER, >= 2,000 minutes played, >= 60% true shooting percentage, ranked in descending order of TS%).
In case that’s too small, the list is Michael Jordan twice (90-91, 87-88), LeBron James (12-13), and Curry, this past year.
8.) More traditionally, in 2015-2016, Stephen Curry also joined this other club:
The 50-40-90 club members are Steph Curry, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, and Larry Bird.— Charlotte Basketball (@49ersBasketball) April 14, 2016
Side note: What’s up Durant??
First time in NBA history two members of the 50/40/90 club will be on the same team (FG%, 3-pt%, FT%) pic.twitter.com/wAk0L0mQSQ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 6, 2016
9.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry brought us joy. And happiness.
10.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry got hurt at the worst moment and ended up (after missing two weeks) hobbling through the rest of the playoffs as the Warriors ultimately fell four points short of a second consecutive championship, becoming the first team in NBA history to lose in the Finals after taking a 3-1 series lead.
Them’s the (unfortunate, at times) facts.
So, what are we to make of this potpourri of (eventually sad) awesomeness? How do you separate the individual and regular season acrobatics from the post season, injured, discouraging failures?
Just recently, Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr finally admitted that Curry was injured for the stretch run of the playoffs (duh), and that his injury forced the Warriors to tweak some things.
"We made a few adjustments in terms of play-calling and actions that we tried to run. It’s still about flow and rhythm and pace. We tried a few different things – and let’s not forget, he was phenomenal in a few games."
But, no matter how spectacular Curry was in the regular season, it’s those late-season struggles that have become imprinted upon many Warriors fans’ brains, however much we would have forgotten about those moments had the team brought home the championship trophy.
As Kerr said, in that same interview with CSN Bay Area:
"Steph didn’t play his best against Cleveland for some of the series, but he had huge games in other parts of the playoffs, which got us to that point. That’s all a part of it. And if we had won the last game, nobody would’ve cared about Steph or his struggles."
Sometimes it’s a struggle to find contentment in failure. As a society—and as individual, prideful human beings—we want to dominate. We want to succeed. Heck, look no further than the Olympics. Gold, silver, bronze: the metals dull in descending order of lustrousness as you move towards the lower levels of the podium. We want our lives to be full of shiny, golden moments. We want to stand tall as the world recognizes our potential, power, and accomplishments.
Sometimes, you can reel off a scintillating, stupid run of talent and good luck. Sometimes, the world opens up for you and provides a platform for your greatest, most lustrous performances.
But, that does not guarantee continued success.
An injury, a fall, a fuck up, a social faux-pas could be right around the corner. A turned ankle, a broken creative streak. An idea that falters, a hot streak that cools.
Stephen Curry’s 2015-2016 season is a lesson in ultimate humility. If he can fail, so can we. If he can succeed—after the failure and after the injury and after the heart wrenching end to the season—if he can pick up the pieces and move on to achieve further greatness, then so can we.
Here’s another fact:
11.) In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry did something we’d never seen. And, next year, he’s coming back to try and be even better.