Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Sad Truth About Steph Curry

Curry Photo by Gigantes Basket via Flickr


An NBA record 402 regular season bombs. A scoring title. A unanimous MVP, the first in league history. Two MVP’s in total, back to back. The SportsCenter Top 10 highlights. The 35 foot splashy daggers.

Then there’s the exposure, or overexposure, really. Under Armour. State Farm. Brita commercials of a drenched Stephen Curry with the most wet J in the league. Mainstream rappers putting “Chef Curry” in 16 bars and pushing it onto pop culture. Curry’s face, and image, is inescapable.

NBA fans were hungry. Hungry for a guy they could get behind. Hungry for a new face.
Curmudgeons and salty pundits remain livid over LeBron James’ “The Decision” to this day. He was, and still is, the best player in the world. But there were so many who were eager to knock him from his proverbial throne.

Steph Curry was gonna be that guy, whether he wanted it or not. Why was he gonna be the guy? Why were hoop fans so desperate to push Curry to supersede James? After watching the 2016 Finals, the fact that anyone EVER considered Curry number one over James is laughable.

Curry is relatable. He is “every man”. At 6’3, he is the size of most guys. Or at least close. LeBron is a 6′ 9, 265 pound battering ram. Curry looks like the guy at 24 Hour Fitness with the wet J that wants to run 5s and reminisce about high school. Curry married his college sweetheart. He and his wife put forth the image of a perfect family.

He is a guy who fans, and their parents, feel comfortable rooting for. The league and it’s fans embraced him. This season we were all subjected to the apex of Curry mania.

With the welcoming of Curry as the best player in the NBA, unrealistic expectations followed. So did the fans perception. His ability to shoot it from downtown made him super human in the eyes of fans. As his status within the league grew, so too did the social media contingency labeling Curry. They said he was better than Michael Jordan, better than LeBron. There were fans actually calling him the GOAT.

Then the 2016 Finals happened. The machine that is the public at large has chewed up Curry and spit him out following the melt down of the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. It feels like Curry was in a bubble, and as his hype grew, the bubble did as well. By Game 7 of the Finals, the bubble popped. The public perception of Curry is currently in a free fall. Memes of Curry and his family are everywhere on social media. NBA darling he is no more.

During the past two seasons the Warriors have played for the ‘chip, winning in 2015. The 2015 win was not achieved because of the greatness of Curry. He has put up pedestrian stats by his standards in both Finals appearances. He displayed a wobbly handle, played low basketball IQ defense, and took questionable shots time and again. He played D by reaching instead of moving his feet. He wound up in foul trouble game after game in this year’s Finals. He missed open 3s. During the regular season he was so accurate it was surprising when he missed a 3. During the Finals? No surprise at all.

Was it possible that LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers were in Curry’s head? Did the physical play, trash talk, and task of over taking LeBron and the Cavs become too much for Curry? What viewers saw during the Finals was completely different from what was on display during the regular season. Is it possible that the Cavs solved Curry? Figured out how to check him, how physical to play him, not allow him to try hiding on D?

The Cavs time and again put Curry in wing screen and rolls to get him switched on LeBron. I think LeBron and the Cavs got inside Curry’s head. I think his style of play and the degree of difficulty of the shots he takes became impossible to execute when it mattered. He took one of the poorest shots I have seen a star take with less than a minute to go in Game 7. He tried to put Kevin Love on skates, and when he couldn’t do it he chucked up a desperation heave that didn’t draw iron. A look again at the film clearly shows that Curry could’ve attempted a drive on Love and if converted, the lead would have been a single point. Instead, a horrible shot was taken by the league MVP, and the season was done.

Just like that, the 73 wins, the insane number of bombs, all the records, meant nothing. Being a team that had turned it’s identity into 3 point shots, instead of using it merely as a weapon, cost the Warriors their season.

The Warriors were beaten soundly by Cleveland. The Cavs were the reason the Warriors played so poorly. They solved the riddle that was Golden State, and in doing so they may have changed the style of play in the league.
Curry’s moment and persona got too big, too fast. However beloved he is in Northern California and across the world, his resume is tarnished.

The 3s stopped dropping. He appeared visibly frustrated. Invincible he was no more.

Fans of the Warriors would spend the days immediately following the Finals in search of a scapegoat. Curry was hurt. Draymond Green was suspended. Andrew Bogut went down. Whatever a fan of the Warriors could think of to take away the pain and frustration of losing, they were contemplating it.

Fandom is a funny thing. People become hysterical. They overreact. Much like they did when Curry’s popularity ascended. The fans as well as some pundits failed to see Curry for who he is.

Evaluating Steph Curry’s game top to bottom, skill by skill, it is easy to identify his one great attribute: shooting. Other than shooting, what does Steph Curry do at an elite level? His handle is sloppy at times, ball control is not at a premium, and he isn’t an elite assist man. Defensively and rebounding he is adequate at best.

Why were the masses of NBA fans ever ready to give Curry LeBron’s crown? Was it the hype and “oooh and aaah” effect his seemingly endless range had on fans aesthetics? Was it the SportsCenter Top 10, You Tube mixtape, highlight driven society we currently exist in?

Or was it that he is a relatable, every day looking man by stature, and that by looking like the rest of us, the public thought they could one day be just like him.