Over the past eight years, as Curry has gone from a promising player with tender ankles to an indispensable superstar of the Golden State dynasty, he has changed the sport with more than his unparalleled shooting. His entire game and personality calls for us to change the way we talk about glory in the NBA. Curry’s continued dominance offers a new—and more complete—example of what it means to be the Man of the Team.
Curry didn’t shine when he finally won the trophy named after 11-time champion Bill Russell. It was confirmation of what we should have already known: he is the highest level immortal in NBA history. And given how good he looks at 34, he’s far from ready. But now that he’s booked his trademark performance in the finals, it’s possible to appreciate his varied impact on the game indefinitely.
Curry is a unique talent. The NBA has never seen someone this size have such a dominant championship influence. he is on the list at 6 feet 2 nowwhich is funny because he has been reported to have been an inch taller for over a decade. He must be getting thinner in his old age. He is the lowest player to be the driver of the dynasty. If he is in your top 10-15 players, he will definitely be the lowest player on this list. Basketball will always be the sport in which the most experienced tall person has the best chance of controlling the game. Curry manages to be both a regular size and a heavenly talent.
“You’ve never seen a guy his size dominate the league just to take the brunt of it all the way through the Finals,” Golden State forward Andre Iguodala told reporters Thursday night. “We all saw what he did to those boys. Usually you have a guy who is the center like Hakim [Olajuwon]. Or Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, these guys are 6 to 7 years old and up and they can take their place and shoot the guys.
“But a guy his size with a vertical disability, they would say, just… you saw it, we all saw it. It was just incredible.”
For all his creativity and experimentation on the court, Curry still plays with a lot of self-awareness. The 30-foot ones are impressive. His joy and showmanship make him a must-see artist. But he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his situational awareness, his full arsenal of sharpshooters, his ability as a floor general, and his drive to move off the ball to help others open up.
Coach Steve Kerr compares Curry to Tim Duncan because they are both humble and selfless leaders. Iguodala, 38, is an 18-year NBA veteran who got his start playing Allen Iverson in Philadelphia. He often worries about diminishing reverence for majesty due to overexposure. As Curry’s longtime teammate, Iguodala warns that despite apparently having Curry left in the tank, he can’t play forever.
“We are moving away from evaluation,” Iguodala said. “I call them gods – this is a unique talent, the talent of a generation. Because we are so close to them, we don’t value them that much. When he leaves, we will miss him greatly and forget the impact he had not only on the Warriors or the NBA, but on the entire globe. You know, it’s like he made the world move.”
Before Curry took apart the Boston Celtics’ superior defense, many used his lack of Finals MVP equipment to minimize him. How can a two-time regular season MVP allow other teammates to outshine him on the big stage? NBA discourse can be something of a Hater’s Ball, full of far too many harsh generalizations and forced comparisons between past greats and today’s still-emerging stars. Arguments get in the way of enjoyment. This makes every player who strives to be the best look like a human pantry for accolades. In team sports, it’s embarrassing to talk about individual heritage all the time.
Iguodala was the 2015 Finals MVP. Kevin Durant won in 2017 and 2018. Curry played well in those three finals, but he didn’t make history. He simply enjoyed the success of his teammates, thriving in the system Kerr had built to exploit the pressure Curry was putting on the defense.
“It all starts with Steph,” said Draymond Green at the start of the finale. “When KD was here, our attack was still starting with Steph, and that’s the way it will be.”
To be so successful, Curry isn’t obsessed with looking over his resume and thinking about his place in basketball history. He does not need to prove that he is Human. He lives by this title every day. Having a franchise does not always mean proof of your personal greatness. In 2016, that responsibility prompted Curry to join the effort to hire Durant, a tall and experienced player whose arrival meant Curry would have to adapt. In 2019, with Durant leaving for Brooklyn, that duty required Curry to lead a younger lineup. After two difficult seasons, the Warriors won more than just a fourth championship. They have a young core that could help prolong the careers of Curry, Green and Clay Thompson.
Curry is the epitome of the franchise player. Whether he is a coordinator, a complementary star or a decoy, he is ready to attack and win from all sides.
Early Friday morning in Boston, Curry rubbed his eyes as he sat in the interrogation room. He wore a black champion t-shirt, a white champion hat, and glasses still covered in champagne bubbles. He listened to the first question. It was about becoming the MVP of the finals. He slammed his palms on the table.
Forget this question! he exclaimed. Why are you starting with this question?
He was irritated. He was playful.
“We have four championships,” he said.
You just know that he will soon be thinking about #5.