Stephen Curry’s dizzying flurry in Wednesday night’s game put smiles on the faces of Golden State fans the world over. But having two of the team’s superstars named Co-Western Conference Players of the Month, and its coach named Western Conference Coach of the Month, will surely widen those grins.
How did they do it?
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant did it by averaging over 27 points per game in the month of the January.
Players on different teams sharing Co-Players of the Month honors might feel like a bit of a letdown. Yeah, one player was great, but so was some other guy — a rival. But players on the same team sharing the honors? Fire. And this is especially true of a team that has been hounded all season by doubts that the two sharpshooters could coexist on the same squad.
For his part, Kerr — a clear factor in his players’ success — won Western Conference Coach of the Month by leading the Warriors to a best-in-league 12 wins and two losses in January. For a man who oozes compassion and empathy, this is downright greedy; he just won the honor in October/November.
Many talking heads and rival fans doubted the team would be here. From the pre- and early-season projections, the Warriors were expected to have collapsed by now, with the Big Three of Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson struggling to share the ball, and the player with the lowest scoring stats at odds with the others.
Following Thompson’s 60-point game earlier this season, Stephen A. Smith — the biggest bigmouth in all of sports (who happens to sport a maniacal Grinch grin) — said that if the Warriors had to trade one of the Big Three, Curry should be the one to go.
But here is where the haters, such as Smith, got it wrong:
They didn’t account for the players’ and coach’s character. They forgot that this isn’t just any ol’ team led by any ol’ coach. It somehow slipped their minds that these are the locked-in and mindful Golden State Warriors, whose coach happens to be the smartest, wokest coach in all of sports ... that is led by a two-time MVP who happens to be a devout, walk-the-talk Christian ... with a soft-spoken, dog lover sharing the backcourt ... and a big-hearted, charitable new guy running the front.
Yes, the Warriors are in dogged pursuit of another title. But this team understands what’s important in the grand scheme of life. Keeping basketball in its proper perspective allows the team to play with joy, and joy allows the team to play more freely, which usually produces successful results.
For a spell, Curry did struggle to find his rhythm and stroke due to the new guy on the floor. As a sharpshooting point guard, he must decide whether to pass the ball or take the shot himself. When a player can shoot it the way he can, it makes sense for him to step back for three. But with team chemistry out of whack early in the season as the squad adjusted to its newest members, his shot wasn’t falling.
In late December, Curry talked it through with Kerr, even stating publicly that he wanted to be involved in more pick-and-roll situations. “Whether I’m getting shots or whether we’re manufacturing ball movement, that’s a strength of ours, regardless of how teams play us,” Curry said.
For many teams, a player’s utterances to the media about things he’d wish would change on the court (or with the roster) point to locker room discord and other unpleasantness. But Golden State is a team made up of very abnormal individuals, at least by pro-sports standards. These are guys with high character, humility, sincere motives, concern for team over self and an ever-present desire to win. So when a player like Curry states a desire to get more pick-and-roll action, a coach like Kerr hears that his star player wants to improve his performance and that of the team. No diva moves here.
Kerr gave his player what he wanted and adjustments were noticeable rather quickly.
Suddenly, Curry was back, along with his flurries, but his return to form did not come at the expense of Durant getting his shots. The former Thundercat still got his touches, too. Both shooters were apparently on full-enough blast to earn Co-Western Conference Players of the Month nods! Thus, improving Curry’s performance improved the team’s, resulting in the Warriors besting the league in January with a 12-2 record, earning Kerr a Western Conference Coach of the Month nod.
See how that works? A team — or society — is only as strong as its weakest parts.
Following the Warriors’ mid-January demolition of the Cavaliers, Kerr stated, “When [Curry’s] aggressive, we go.” But the quote was mentioned in an article by ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood-Strauss titled, “Crash Brothers? Steph and KD Finding Their Way.” Although cute, it was and is way inaccurate, and hopefully Curry’s and Durant’s shared Co-Western Conference Players of the Month recognition will put an end to such speculative shade.
The Warriors have the Splash Brothers, in Curry and Thompson.
No, this team does not have any “Crash Brothers.” But the Co-Western Conference Players of the Month props perhaps make Curry and Durant the new ... Dynamic Duo?