Over the past eight years, Curry has transformed the game beyond just his unparalleled shooting from a promising prospect with a soft ankle to an indispensable superstar for the Golden State dynasty. His entire game and role requires us to change the way we talk about NBA stars. Curry’s continued dominance provides a new — and fuller — example of what it means to be the man on a team.
Curry didn’t prove himself by eventually picking up the trophy named after 11-time champion Bill Russell. This confirms what we should already know: He’s the top immortal in NBA history. Considering how good he looks at 34, he’s far from done. But now that he has put his signature Finals performance in the record books, it may be possible to appreciate his diverse impact on the game without interruption.
Curry is a genius. The NBA has never seen someone his age with such dominant championship influence. He’s now 6-foot-2, which is funny because he’s reportedly been an inch taller for over a decade. He must have shrunk in his old age. He is the shortest player to become a dynasty driver. If he’s in your top 10 to 15 players, he’s bound to be the shortest player on the list. Basketball will always be a sport in which the tallest and most skilled have the best chance of controlling the game. Curry is average in size and talent.
“You’ve never seen a player of his size dominate the league and put all the weight on his shoulders in a Finals series,” Golden State forward Andre Iguodala said Thursday night tell reporters. “We all saw what he did to their boys. Usually you get a centre-forward like Hakim [Olajuwon]. Or Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, these guys are 6’7+ and they can get to their spots and shoot.
“But a guy whose height is challenged vertically, they’ll say, it’s just … you see it, we all see it. It’s incredible.”
For all of Curry’s creativity and experimentation on the court, he still maintains plenty of self-awareness. The 30-foot distance is spectacular. His joy and performances make him a must-see entertainer. But his situational awareness, his complete arsenal as a scorer, his ability as a general on the field, and his dedication to moving off the ball to help others open up haven’t been praised enough.
Coach Steve Kerr likened Curry to Tim Duncan because they were both humble, selfless leaders. Iguodala, 38, is an 18-year NBA veteran who started his career with Allen Iverson in Philadelphia. He often worries that due to overexposure, people’s respect for greatness will diminish. As Curry’s longtime teammate, Iguodala warned that while Curry appears to have stayed in the tank, he can’t play forever.
“We’re moving away from appreciation,” Iguodala said. “I call them gods – that very unique gift, a gift that is passed down from generation to generation. We don’t appreciate them much because we are so close to them. When he leaves, we really miss him and forget his influence How big, not just for the Warriors or the NBA, but for the entire planet. You know, like he made the world move.”
Before Curry dismantled the Boston Celtics’ excellent defense, many took advantage of his lack of Finals MVP hardware to undercut him. How can the two-time regular season MVP allow other teammates to stand out on the big stage? The NBA discourse can be such a hater’s ball, full of too many rigid generalizations and forced comparisons between the greats of the past and the stars still in development. Arguing spoils enjoyment. It makes every player who aspires to be an all-rounder look like a human storage box for accolades. It’s awkward in team sports, this constant talk of personal heritage.
Iguodala was the 2015 Finals MVP. Kevin Durant won in 2017 and 2018. Curry was great in those three Finals, but he wasn’t the center of the story. He just revels in the success of his teammates in the system Kerr has built to take advantage of the pressure Curry puts on defenses.
“It all started with Steph,” Draymond Green said at the start of the Finals. “When KD was here, our offense still started with Steph and that’s the way it was.”
To achieve this, Curry isn’t obsessed with peeking at his resume and thinking about his place in basketball history. He didn’t need to prove he was the man. He lives that title every day. Owning a franchise isn’t always a testament to your personal greatness. In 2016, that responsibility prompted Curry to join Durant’s recruiting effort, a tall, skilled player whose addition meant Curry would have to make adjustments. In 2019, when Durant traveled to Brooklyn, Curry needed to lead a younger lineup. After two rough seasons, the Warriors didn’t just win their fourth championship. They have a young core that could help extend the careers of Curry, Green and Klay Thompson.
Curry is the epitome of a team player. Whether it’s focus, fill-in or bait, he’s ready to attack and win from every angle.
In Boston early Friday morning, Curry sat in the interview room and rubbed his eyes. He was wearing a black championship shirt and a white championship cap with champagne bubbles on his goggles. He heard the first question. It’s about winning Finals MVP. His hands clapped hard on the table.
“Forget that question!” he cried. “Why did you start with this question?”
he is very angry. He is naughty.
“We have four championships,” he said.
You just know he’s going to think of No. 5 very soon.