Let’s Talk Steph Curry….
While in China, Steph Curry told Darren Rovell of ESPN that yes he was injured in the Finals and no it doesn’t matter. That has been translated by many as Curry making excuses for why a team with a 3-1 lead, the defending champions no less, choked. Do the haters have a point? Why even talk about the injury?
C.J. Hampshire: It is confirmation bias. It doesn’t matter what he said. To many, Curry and the Warriors are a “system” product in which the system is the star, not the iconic one-on-one style the NBA has institutionalized over the life of their brand. Curry’s fall from champion grace confirms a view of him, an I-told-you-so. Whatever he says in his defense will be seen as an excuse. He lost.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: Last year when the Cavs were riddled with injuries and they lost, the Warriors were the first to bristle and call it excuse making when it was pointed out the Cavs weren’t at full strength. They Warriors always said, we beat you, don’t make excuses. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and it’s Curry, excuse making is valid. It’s a double standard.
Brendan Gillespie: Did I miss something here? Curry was injured. However, we have had injured players in the Finals. 2010 game 7 Kobe was on one leg and missed something like 24 shots but he willed his team on the glass. That’s where I was disappointed in Curry. He didn’t have any will. It had nothing to do with him being injured. He was a terrible leader.
Julian Billick: He should have left the injury out of it. Fans don’t want to hear about a player’s injuries or their money. Furthermore, playing through an injury and doing it well reminds us of how tough you are. Curry was not tough in the Finals but he was not the sole reason they lost.
Is Curry’s Finals performance, injured or not, the reason rookies like LaMarcus Aldridge better?
Mallory: On a national level, Curry has had three years of fame. He was caught up in the Donald Sterling mess and lost to that Clippers team in the first round in a game seven. The next year he won the title. This year, because of Curry, the Warriors made history with 73 wins and they made history by losing the title when all they needed to do was win one game. LeBron, on the other hand, was famous in high school. Kyrie had fame at Duke. Kevin Love was in the NCAA title game at UCLA. They have had their bad performances and are still popular because they have had a longer run at fame.
Julian: The last time we saw Curry on a basketball court he was guarding Kyrie Irving and got punked. He was the MVP who couldn’t MVP his way to a series win up 3-1. Those images last. The backstory is Curry’s three point shooting game. I still don’t think he’s respected.
C.J.: LeBron has never made the top of the list and so you have to factor in these are 19 year olds. But what they are being asked to do is to vote in a popularity contest. If Curry had never ranked high you can say, well it’s his game, his catch and shoot, dribble and shoot style. But last year, he was fourth. He fell off the map with the rookies this year. The only thing that happened to him that was tragic was game 7.
Brendan: LaMarcus Aldridge? Really? It makes the rookies seem really stupid.
Curry mentioned there is no pressure this year? Is he right?
Julian: He’s wrong. There’s pressure this year. A lot of people think the Warriors are a Detroit Piston model, one for all, all for one, get a title and be happy about it, an entertaining fluke. That the Warriors were beaten because their opponent went iso, beat you off the dribble because I’m tougher, only adds to the narrative that a jump shooting team got lucky in 2015 but the NBA is the NBA and always reverts to form.
C.J.: Once the Luke Walton Warriors started the season and went on this incredible run the pressure was immense. The Warriors should have lost to the Thunder. They should have beaten the Cavs. They didn’t. Add in Durant and people hating them just ups the pressure, it doesn’t diminish it.
Brendan: He’s wrong. Even with the loss, the Warriors are the glamour team with Curry not as perfect as he used to be but still a bright light. All the Finals did was push Curry out of the best player in the NBA conversation. He was thoroughly owned by Kyrie. But he still is Steph, the most popular player in the league despite what the rookies say. He still has to prove himself. Great players repeat as champions or they avenge losses. They don’t just go away.
Mallory: The Warriors have never been in a situation quite like this. The year they won, it was a take the league by surprise year. Last season, no one believed they could win and then no one believed they could lose. This year, they have to make the superteam concept work and get back to the Finals. The pressure to live up to their own standards is what they are facing. Anything less than that and they are nothing more than a team that took advantage of a brief moment.
photo via llananba