If basketball pundits and scouts were always right, then the Stephen Curry we know today would’ve amounted to nothing but an undersized shooting guard with limited physical ability.
The slender 6’3” point guard out of Davidson hasn’t just proved the doubters wrong; he’s leveraged a historically unprecedented skill-set to subvert every physical limitation that was thought to hinder his success in the pros. After going from an unwanted college recruit to the best player in the world, Curry credited an underlying “Higher Power” for directing him to Oakland.
According to Tim Kamakawi of Mercury News, on draft night, Curry secretly wished the New York Knicks would've snatched him. But he’s come around to appreciate playing for the Warriors since then:
“I guess a Higher Power guided me to where I was supposed to be, and I ended up with the Warriors. Because who knows how it would’ve turned out if I went to New York?”
The chances that a supernatural being orchestrated Curry’s landing spot in the draft seem as slim as Curry’s odds of becoming a transcendent superstar in the pros once were. Yet Curry has defied logic with his unforeseen supernova 2015-16 season. The Davidson product wasn’t touted as the NBA’s “Next Big Thing” a la LeBron James. In fact, he was never even considered an MVP candidate until the year he won it. And for those who rendered Curry’s 2014-15 MVP season a one-time fluke based primarily on team success (The NBA’s GMs voted him the fifth most likely to win the MVP award going into last season), Curry has responded by putting together what basketball pundits argue is the best statistical season in NBA history and becoming the first ever unanimous MVP.
Just when it appears he’s reached his limit as a player, Curry confounds his fans and expands his horizons (and shooting range). For a player to improve as drastically as Curry has after winning his first MVP is simply unheard of. Curry lives up to his favorite Bible verse on the court — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in the sense that he plays with such a bravado and attempts the unthinkable. The NBA has never seen a player with the audacity and skill level to casually pull up from the center court logo with 18 seconds on the shot clock.
Two days ago, Steph Curry hit a three-pointer from the Pistons' halfcourt logo: https://t.co/azqN56A6lE— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) January 19, 2016
It's rare for an NBA player as celebrated and accomplished as Curry to possess such serenity, amiability and willingness to defer to lesser teammates. Sure, Curry catches some flak for turning away after hoisting a three and shimmying on the court, which comes off as cocky and showy. However, Curry celebrating his success is a trivial issue that doesn’t actually affect the team. Being coachable and a good teammate are better indicators of a player’s humility and willingness to sacrifice. There were many instances last season in which Curry would trot through off-ball screens and let Draymond Green or Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodala run the show. Curry’s passivity would even be frustrating at times because the Warriors were usually better when the baby-faced assassin put matters into his own hands.
It would be a mistake, however, to confuse Curry’s submissiveness with tentativeness. The juxtaposition of his confidence to pull up from near half court yet maintain a calm and altruistic demeanor is striking. Curry’s proclivity for putting the team above himself, which coincides with the principles of the Christian faith that he professes, was encapsulated in a single text to Kevin Durant, via The Undefeated:
According to a person who saw the text messages, Curry told Durant in a text message that he could care less about who is the face of the franchise, who gets the most recognition or who sells the most shoes (Curry is with Under Armor, Durant with Nike). The two-time NBA MVP also told Durant that if Durant won the MVP award again he would be in the front row of the press conference clapping for him. In closing, Curry’s message to Durant was that all he truly cared about was winning championships and he’d like to do that as his teammate.
Durant, also a man of faith, was lured into joining the Warriors’ intimate and selfless group of players, and it all started with their best player leading by example. Curry, who’s won MVP in back-to-back seasons in which records were broken and a championship was captured, is widely considered a better player than Durant. There was no obligation for the league’s hottest superstar to accommodate KD. For comparison's sake, LeBron James wouldn’t deign to do such a thing with any of the super teams that he formed, despite the fact that he joined Wade County for one of those teams. LeBron seemingly didn’t know how to function in the 2011 NBA Finals without being the undisputed King (James) of the team, which prompted Wade to take a step back and allow King James to take the reigns of the Heat — even though James was fresh off of choking away what should’ve been a second Finals MVP for Wade.
Golden State won’t feature a pompous “King” next season. Instead, Curry and the Warriors will continue to accomplish the unimaginable as a selfless unit.