Steph Curry doesn’t need to be the best player on his team to define his value
Photo from Inquirer.net | Art by Tricia Guevara
Since Kevin Durant donned the Golden State jersey and set foot at Oracle Arena, people quickly forgot that there was another MVP in the Warriors lineup. It’s not a surprise though because Durant has done nothing but lead the Warriors to back-to-back NBA titles since 2016.
During the regular season, Durant transformed into the current best basketball player in the league (sorry, LeBron James) and proved that he is indeed one of the most versatile players the sport has ever seen. He put up monster numbers consistently and finished the season with an average of 26 points, six rebounds, and one block per game. This went on in the post-season where Durant was the team’s go-to guy, hero, and main superstar.
But in Game Six of the Western Conference semifinals, during the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, the MVP went down with a right calf strain injury. While many thought that Durant’s injury would change the landscape of the playoffs, people didn’t realize that the Warriors always had another All-Star ready to take over. It’s just a matter of taking the spotlight away from Durant for the world to realize that Steph Curry is still the most talented point guard in the game.
No Durant? No problem
Since Durant’s injury, the Warriors did not lose a single game in the semifinals and conference finals. In those six games, we saw the defending champions take over and break games open with their huge scoring runs. It’s not a surprise that all these were led by Curry who’s finally gotten the chance to hold and shoot the ball way more since Durant’s absence.
In the semifinals, the Houston Rockets, who were expected to extend the series to seven games, had no answer for Curry. In Game Six, it boiled down to who wanted to win more. Although it was evident that James Harden, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Rockets did everything in their power to win, none could handle Curry’s 23-point performance in the fourth quarter.
Take for instance their last game against the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference finals. It seemed as if the Warriors were about to drop the game on the Blazers’ home floor but Curry knew better. The three-time champion tallied his second triple-double of his playoff career with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists to snatch the win (119-117) and also finished the conference finals with 146 points—the most ever scored by any player in a four-game sweep.
Curry’s record-breaking games are all indications that even without Durant, the Golden State Warriors are still the best basketball team in the world. When you have a team with more than two All-Stars, not everyone will be entitled to the spotlight on a regular basis—sometimes it’ll even be taken away from you.
What Curry always did though was allow Durant to outshine everyone in the league and claim his status as the best basketball player in the world. Because as the leader, Curry knew this was what was best for his team and his teammates to get to the finals once more.