Yesterday we at Next Impulse Sports[i] kicked off our NBA Countdown. Only nine (business) days to go! For a full explanation of The Countdown and to check out #10 on this list click below:
Our #9 storyline was the most debated on the list. Some people would’ve had it higher and some would’ve left it out all together. I’m not exactly sure if I’ve come to a full conclusion on it, but there’s a deadline to meet and a story to write.
I wonder if this type of stress and debate goes into a list of “24 Ways You Know You’ve Got Nothing Better To Do With Your Life”[ii]?
#9: The God Among Us: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is a scoring God[iii].
He is arguably the most unstoppable scorer in all of basketball when you consider his vitals. He’s barely 6’3” and weighs a generous 185 lbs. soaking wet. He’s the ultimate professional athlete who could just as easily pass for a guy at your office who’s really good on PowerPoint.
Usually the true mark for an NBA player is that if you see them in person it becomes blatantly apparent that they are a professional athlete. It’s a concept that might sound silly, but it’s true. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation that wasn’t sports related and there was an NBA player also it that situation, they would stick out immediately. The two most common shocking realizations people have when they see said NBA player out of their professional element go something like this:
“Omg. I can’t believe how tall and how skinny he is!”
“Omg. It was like I was standing next to the biggest, strongest person I’ve ever seen. He was like a house. A HOUSE. Seriously. I was standing next to Eddie House!”
When you live in Los Angeles, run-ins like this are common. A lot of players live or train here in the offseason. What that leads to is meeting Blake Griffin after a stand-up comedy show[iv], talking to Rick Fox and Jalen Rose who are wandering around LA Live[v], shopping with Metta World Peace at Whole Foods[vi], seeing Robert Sacre stuffed inside a regular person seat at a Dodger game[vii] and eating at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles with half of the Oklahoma City Thunder[viii].
In each of those scenarios it was clear that among the regular, non-professional athlete humans, these guys stood out. Either by height, build or just the size of their enormous face (seriously Rick Fox, your head is humongous) it was clear that they weren’t like everyone else around them.
I say all of this, to set up the following story:
Two years ago, the Golden State Warriors were in town to play the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors weren’t very good and were a day away from trading Monte Ellis (yup, I saw his final game as a Warrior). The seats I had for the game came from a college teammate of mine who is now on the coaching staff of Golden State[ix] and with the tickets came passes to hang out after the game and meet up with him when all of the players come out to see their friends and family.
After we talked, met Mark Jackson (again, a giant of a person compared to regular people.) and watched Nate Robinson take off into the night,[x] my friends and I left the arena and headed onto the street.
We had exited with a few other people and all of us were waiting at the crosswalk for the light to change. The entire process probably took 10 minutes. And it wasn’t until it was just me, my friend Roman and Stephen Curry walking across the street, that I realized he was there, THE ENTIRE TIME!
Just an hour ago he had scored 23 points and went 5-7 from the three-point line. Now, I couldn’t even pick him out of a crowd of regular people. He was truly, unremarkable. In size, in stature, in demeanor… He didn’t have any of the markings of a professional athlete. In my entire career I’ve never looked at professional athlete and thought, “well if he can play, then I’m sure I can get a few buckets”.
Until that night.
If we didn’t recognize him, Roman and I joked that we could’ve asked him if he wanted to play pick up with us on Saturdays.
That’s what makes Stephen Curry one of the most interesting storylines of this season. Last year, he set the mark for most 3-pointers made in a single season (272) and he was the first player in NBA history to make 250 threes and have 500 assists in a single season. He did all of that in only his 4th year in the league. And he did it while technically playing point guard and missing 4 games. Oh, and he also did it while having regular people mistake him for someone who might want to join their adult rec league team.
The point guard element is what is most impressive. That means, unlike most career three-point specialists like Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Steve Novak and Bruce Bowen, Curry has had to create his three-point attempts for himself. Most pure shooters are best when coming off a screen, having the ball delivered to them in-motion, or at the very least, spotting up somewhere and shooting off a ball skip or rotation.
The majority of Curry’s threes come off of the dribble, after beating a defender. That’s insane.
What’s even more insane is watching his Top 10 plays from just last season.
Remember, he’s built like a Middle School teacher. Yes, Middle School. I don’t feel comfortable having Curry teach in high school. I don’t trust that a high school football player wouldn’t stuff him inside a locker for giving out C’s in Algebra
Yet, despite his amazing on-court abilities he remains one of the NBA’s best people. In 2011 he won the Sportsmanship Award. This past summer he spent a good deal of his time at a refugee camp in Tanzania helping put up nets to fight malaria. He did it on his wedding anniversary[xi].
Are you kidding me?
Last season, in the playoffs, he put the league on notice. He single-handedly kept a Warriors team that was falling apart with injuries, alive.
Incase you forgot; the Warriors second-best player in the playoffs last year was Jarrett Jack. And yes, Richard Jefferson played in 7 of their 12 playoff games. David Lee only played in 6.
This is going to be a big season for Golden State. They’ve strengthened their line up by adding Andre Iguodala. Klay Thomphson and Harrison Barnes should be primed to improve on their solid seasons last year. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are both healthy and Mark Jackson improved his coaching staff.
But none of those things would matter if it weren’t for Stephen Curry. As he goes, so will the Warriors. For his entire career he’s always been the one lifting up those around him. From the magical run at Davidson to an incredible night against the Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals (44 points, 11 assists) it always seems like Curry has everything under control, its as if he’s been there before.[xii]
Only this season, he’ll enter a place he’s never been before. He has a talented team around him, he’s healthy and he’s going to have an enormous bulls-eye on his back. No more sneaking up on teams and scoring so fast and in so many ways the opposing team doesn’t know what hit them. No, this season, the rest of the league will be ready.
Just remember: Stephen Curry is a scoring God, even if he just looks like some dude you went to college with.
Get ready to worship.
::::Check Back Tomorrow For #8::::
Scott Christopher is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him @ScottC247
[ii] Second day of The Countdown, second shot taken at Buzzfeed! SHOTS. FIRED. But seriously, when did this happen? When did we decide it was worth 10 minutes of our time to read lists about stuff animated with memes, .gifs, JPEGS, unicorns, movie clips, kitty cats (ok, kittens are adorable, fair point) that give no actual value to our lives except on some level validating feelings we already have? Isn’t that what partisan cable news is for? The lists hardly ever provide information and rarely are that funny. And the biggest question that no one is asking: HOW MANY MORE LISTS COULD THERE POSSIBLY BE?!?! We’ve already dissected the 80’s. We’re running out of obscure 90’s stuff and every kid under the age of 18 grew up in a world where Angry Birds was a viable option of entertainment. Think about that. Better yet, make a list about it, submit it to Buzzfeed, I assume they’re going to need it soon.
[iii] The remainder of the this section of the column should be read while simultaneously having this song play in the back of your mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViGNBLQpGWE The irony of course, is that Steph Curry couldn’t be more unlike Kanye in personality or attitude but when it comes to putting the ball in the basket, the closest equivalent is Kanye getting people to talk about Kanye, for how frequently and easily he does it. Hurry up with my damn croissants!
[iv] Biggest hands I’ve ever shook in my life. I might’ve shaken his hand, but he was shanking my forearm/elbow.
[v] Shout out to Jalen Rose for being kind enough to stop and take a picture with my friend who was in town. Also, he’s a giant 6’9” individual. And he hasn’t missed many meals since he hung up his kicks. Also, the opposite of a shout out to Rick Fox, who is also a giant and has the biggest face you’ve ever seen. When Rick was asked to stop and take a photo, he said “Sure” and then smiled and proceed to keep on walking. Someone needs to tell Rick Fox, he’s not that famous.
[vi] One of the nicest/most terrifying people to see not in a basketball gym.
[vii] Did you really think Robert Sacre was going to get a footnote?! Really? No, this is just a reminder that as this column is being filed the Dodgers are playing to stay alive at Chavez Ravine. Oh, and to the city of LA that jumped off the bandwagon so fast, friends of mine are at Game 5 of an NLCS game for a mere $14, day of, purchase price of tickets. Tough town, man. Tough. Town.
[viii] Members included: KD, Hasheem Thabeet, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.
[ix] Congrats again. Even though it’s beyond deserved.
[x] Nate Robinson is amazing. He took off up the arena steps in Staples Center wearing jeans, a white V-neck t-shirt, what appeared to be Rosary beads and a backpack. I would’ve paid so much money to have accompanied him into the night. In that moment I told my friends, “Nate Robinson needs his own show where all it is, is following him around and seeing what happens.” Thanks to the internet, such a thing would exist later that summer: The State of Nate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjXhqDEcN80
[xi] Not to say some love is better than others, but for the record, Curry met his wife when he was 15 and she was 14 when they were both in a church group. It was their 2nd wedding anniversary and it wasn’t soon after their daughters first birthday. By the way, did I mention he was only 25?
[xii] Probably because he has been there before; he was playing ball boy for his dad, former NBA player Dell Curry, starting at the age of 9. Shout out to that entire mid-90’s Charlotte Hornets team, Mugsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, ‘Zo, Kendall Gill (yeah, that Kendall Gill. The one who helped cement my friendship with my friend Ronnie when we discussed the greatness of the show, “My Brother and Me” for almost an hour. Which, if I asked you how many seasons there were of that show, you’d probably guess at least two or three, but you’d be wrong. There was only one season. And the Kendall Gill episode was the first of the season. I guess that’s the danger of not saving your best for last. There was just no way the writing staff of ‘MBAM’ could top that Kendall Gill guest spot.