Close your eyes with me for a second, and imagine being Steph Curry on the court. You know in your mind you can make any shot within 30 feet, and so does the unfortunate sap guarding you. Now, this guy guarding you is most likely not as quick as you and he is forced to get up into your airspace basically as soon as you cross half court. By the time the screen coming from Mac-truck-wearing-shorts Andrew Bogut, you’ve either already blown by your man or he’s made the fatal mistake of reaching and trying to steal the basketball from you, but you’re not concerned at all because you have that shit connected to your hand like Spiderman. Once you’ve either crossed up your defender or blew by him by taking the screen, you have one of two choices. You can A) Pull up from anywhere on the court with an assassin-quick release and more than likely tickle the twine, or B) wiggle your way towards the free-throw line, where some helpless power-forward is forced to rotate up to you. The guy from the weak-side corner is no help because Klay Thompson is standing there like Bradley Cooper ready to snipe away. You take option B and the power forward comes lumbering towards you, you hesitate for a split second, just enough to create enough space to blow by him for an easy lay-up. You even kiss it high off the glass with some english for no other reason than you have poetic license to do whatever you want on the court.
Or you could scratch all of that, pull up in somebody’s mug and turn back on D before the ball even gets to the rim because you know that ball is the prettiest thing any of you middle class, middle aged men in the crowd have seen in years, Lord have mercy
In a season where the best player is stuck in a laboratory frantically trying to finish a chemistry experiment before Spring rolls around, and the second best player and reigning MVP is on a .500 team that’s struggling for a myriad of reasons I couldn’t even begin to explain.
Where does that leave us?
I always like to think of the NBA MVP as the guy who owned that particular season, from a basketball standpoint and from the narrative standpoint, not necessarily the guy with the best numbers (like in baseball) or the best player on the best team (kind of like football).
No, the MVP to me is the answer to the questions, “Who will you remember most from that season?”, “Who mattered most on a night to night basis?”, and “If you took that guy away from their team, where would they be?”
At a little over the halfway point, we find ourselves as NBA fans in a situation where you could talk me into at least five different guys (Steph, Lebron, Marc Gasol, Harden, AD) and probably two more (Lillard, Russ) if I’ve had enough Colt 45s.
But one player has stood a little taller than the rest, Stephen Curry. The kid who was only offered a walk-on spot at Virginia Tech coming out of high school. The kid who sucked the souls out of at least four different programs like a Dementor in college. The kid who’s right now averaging 23 points, 8 assists, 5 boards, 2 steals, and at least a dozen different “ohmuhgod” reactions from me on my couch per game on what basically amounts to 50/40/90 splits.
There isn’t a more captivating thrill ride in sports right now than when the Warriors get rolling. Steph and company start locking in on defense and running fast break after fast break and rim runs and after rim runs and corner threes after corner threes in a dizzying blur. By the time it’s over, you have no idea how many points they’ve scored or even how the hell they scored them, but all of a sudden an exasperated, sweating, opposing coach frantically calls a time-out as everyone catches their collective breath, looks at the score and see that the Warriors are up 22. All this while the crowd in Oakland is acting like they all simultaneously got chosen to be the next contestant on The Price Is Right
The connection that Steph has with the crowd in Oakland is like when you see a couple or two best friends out in public and you can just tell that it works. Their energies are totally intertwined.
Like the front man of a rock back, the energy Steph gets from his disciples in the crowd at the Oracle Arena seemingly fuels him to another level. He almost seems to grow on the court as he gets going, his presence looming larger and larger over every single action on the court. Right now only Lebron, Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Kobe have that power.
James Harden fans will surely bring up him leading the Rockets to a 34-15 record and a three seed in a Western Conference that has to feel like going up against CT in an elimination round on a nightly basis, while having to make seemingly every single play from the perimeter.
Anthony Davis has a case as well, putting up a statistical season that would be hard to match if you played 82 games of 2k15 against Hellen Keller. But he’s still young (seriously, he’s only 21. How effing scary is that?) and we’re only, hopefully, seeing about 82% of what he can be when he grows up.
No, what Steph Curry is doing this season, and the Warriors in general, is special
Sometimes in sports you can watch something, and you just know there’s something different about what you’re seeing, but you just can’t put your finger on it. The chemistry is palpable, you watch them play and everything clicks. Everyone’s on the exact same page, and playing for each other. The energy radiates from your TV screen.
The ‘it’ factor, but it’s infecting the entire team.
This all begs the question, can this machine continue into the playoffs? That’s a question for the end of Springtime. For now, I’m just going to sit back and watch everything that’s right in basketball. Every night you might see Stephen Curry do something different. Something you’ve never seen before. We’re witnessing the greatest shooter to ever live, and he’s still a kid in a lot of ways. Enjoy it folks, Steph Curry is your MVP.