“Without him, none of this happens.”
Following Golden State’s latest championship victory, Coach Steve Kerr emphasized the significance of Stephen Curry to the Warriors’ NBA dynasty.
The American point guard was always a lock for the Hall of Fame, but his performance in this year’s NBA Finals took him to another level.
When Curry helped the Warriors beat the Boston Celtics on Thursday, he not only secured his and his team’s fourth NBA title in eight years, but he also scored 34 points, ensuring that he was awarded the Finals’ most valuable player for the first time in his sparkling career.
Curry leads Warriors from worst to first
Golden State has advanced to the NBA Finals five years in a row, defeating the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
However, Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the 2019 series, two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant left that summer, and Curry injured a bone in his left hand in October, necessitating surgery. With Thompson and Curry sidelined for the season, the Warriors concluded with a 15-50 record, the lowest in the league, as they rebuilt their team.
After missing the playoffs again in 2020-21, Curry said, “You don’t want to see us next year,” and as the final buzzer sounded in Thursday’s title-clinching win, Curry sobbed as he embraced his father, former NBA star Dell.
“This championship hits different,” said Curry junior. “It was overwhelming, surreal, because you know how much you went through to get back to this stage.
“From injuries to a changing of the guard and the roster, young guys coming through, we carried the belief that we could get back and win, even if it didn’t make sense to anybody when we said it.
“When we started this season we had a lot of conversations about who we were as a team and what we’re capable of. You carry all of that on a daily basis to try to realize a dream and we did it.”
‘He made the world move’
Curry had previously been named NBA regular-season MVP twice, in 2015 and 2016, but this season he became the league’s all-time leader in three-pointers made.
He became an NBA All-Star for the seventh time this season and was named MVP of the All-Star game for the first time after scoring a game-high 50 points as Team LeBron defeated Team Durant.
With former teammate Kevin Durant now with the Brooklyn Nets, Curry led the Warriors through the playoffs, winning the Western Conference finals MVP award as they defeated the Dallas Mavericks to become the first team since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1990s to make the finals six times in eight years.
Then came the Finals, and Curry was voted series MVP after averaging 31.2 points in six games.
“Some bozos saying he needed that,” Thompson said. “He’s pretty much established what he can do, but to see him earn that, he’s one of the greatest ever and we all follow his lead. He was incredible, what a series.”
Draymond Green, who has played in all four of Golden State’s recent championships alongside Curry, Thompson, and Iguodala, added: “It’s been a long time coming but he left no doubt. He carried us.”
Despite his 6ft 2in height, Curry’s precision from beyond the arc has revolutionised the game, with athletes in every role now expected to be able to shoot and defend three pointers.
“You’ve never seen a guy his size dominate the league like this, to put the weight of everything on his shoulders through a finals series,” said Iguodala.
“Normally you get a guy that’s a centre like Hakeem [Olajuwon] or Shaq [O’Neal], or Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James – those guys are 6ft 6in or taller, they can shoot over guys. But a guy of [Curry’s] height. We all saw what he did to [Boston], it was just incredible.
“Because we’re so close to those generational talents, you don’t appreciate them as much. When he’s gone we’re really going to miss him and forget how much of an impact he had, not just on the Warriors and the NBA but the entire globe. He made the world move.”
Proving the critics wrong
Curry, who signed a contract extension through 2026 last summer, is not only considered the finest player of his generation; his name is now included alongside some of the all-time greatest of all time.
After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Bill Russell, he is only the eighth player to win at least four titles and two regular-season MVPs.
He is only the sixth player to win a Finals MVP award, with Russell missing out, despite the fact that the trophy is now named after the historic 11-time NBA champion.
Curry is only the fourth player after Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain to earn at least two league MVPs, two scoring crowns, and one Finals MVP. Only Jordan has scored more points in championship games.
However, Curry is the only player in NBA history to earn three MVP awards in the same season, and with the addition of the Conference Finals MVP title this season, he becomes the first player to win all of the NBA’s MVP medals.
He has also loved proving people wrong. He referred to TV analysts “putting up the big zero” last summer when wondering how many more NBA titles he will win after Thursday’s 103-90 win in Boston.
Curry also got the last laugh when Boston fans mocked his wife, a TV chef and restaurant owner, by wearing t-shirts that said ‘Ayesha Curry Can’t Cook.’ Her spouse was photographed in the locker room with one of the t-shirts and his Finals MVP trophy.