HomeSportsStephen Curry left his critics with nothing more to say

Stephen Curry left his critics with nothing more to say

BOSTON — There were seconds left in Stephen Curry’s NBA season when he saw his father, Dell, sitting on one of the baselines. he approached hug himthen fell to court in tears.

“Surreal,” Curry said. “I just wanted to enjoy the moment because it was that special.”

During six games of the NBA Finals, Curry had provided Golden State with a narrow range of feats that ranged from the extraordinary to the sublime. He went over the walls of defenders to make layups up and down, and back up for jump shots that faded. He captivated some fans while demoralizing others. He sought the spotlight, then delivered.

Effectively, he turned the court into his personal theater and the Celtics into his helpless foils, delivering performance after performance in a two-week stretch whose only flaw was that just about anyone could begin to anticipate the end, with Curry walking offstage like a champ. again. .

After Golden State defeated Boston, 103-90, on Thursday to clinch its fourth title in eight seasons, the 34-year-old Curry reflected on the long journey back to the top: the injuries and the losses, the disbelievers and uncertainty. He also remembered the exact moment he started preparing for the start of this season: 371 days ago.

“These last two months of the playoffs, these last three years, these last 48 hours, it’s all been an emotional rollercoaster ride on and off the court,” Curry said, “and you’re taking all of that on a daily basis to try to make a dream and a goal like we did tonight.”

Numbers tell a story, and they are worth emphasizing. For the series, Curry averaged 31.2 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 48.2 percent shooting from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range. He was the unanimous selection as the most valuable player in the final.

“He charged us,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said, “and we’re here as champions.”

But there was also an art to Curry’s work on the series, and it was a profound reminder of all he’s done to reshape the way fans, and even fellow players, think about the game. The way he stretches the floor with his interplanetary shot. The way he uses post players to create space with pick-and-rolls. The way he has boosted the self-esteem of smaller players everywhere.

“When I come home to Milwaukee and watch my AAU team play and practice, everyone wants to be Steph,” Golden State’s Kevon Looney said. “Everyone wants to shoot 3s, and I’m like, ‘Man, you have to work a little harder to shoot like him. I see him every day.’ ”

For two seasons, of course, in the wake of Golden State’s catastrophic and injury-marred trip to the 2019 Finals, some of that joy was missing. The Warriors struggled through a slow rebuild.

The team put the pieces back together this season, but there were no guarantees. Curry missed the final 12 games of the regular season with a sprained left foot, then aggravated the injury in Game 3 of the finals. All he did in Game 4 was score 43 points to help Golden State even the series at two games apiece.

He proved he was deadly in Game 5, missing all nine of his 3-point attempts, but his supporting cast filled the void. Among them: Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who developed their game during Golden State’s playoff-less hiatus and were indispensable this postseason.

“Our young guys had a belief that we could come back to this stage and win,” Curry said. “And even if it didn’t make sense to anyone when we said it, all of that matters.”

For Game 6 on Thursday, Curry opened the entire buffet. He used a fake bomb to send the Celtics’ Al Horford flying into an expensive row of seats. He lured defenders into traps and threw quick passes to teammates. And after a big flurry in the third quarter, he looked out into the crowd and pointed his ring finger. (Translation: he was ready for more jewelry.)

Curry began to get emotional when Boston coach Ime Udoka called his reserves from the bench with just over a minute to go, conceding the series and the championship. Standing alone in midcourt, Curry seemed to be laughing and crying at the same time, a euphoric mix of feelings.

“You imagine what the emotions are going to be like, but it’s different,” he said.

In a sports world consumed by talk shows, uninformed opinion and social media criticism, two unfair asterisks seemed to follow Curry like smoke. The first was that he didn’t help his team win a title without Kevin Durant or beat an opponent in the finals who was in top form. The second was that he had not been named Finals MVP.

Whether he cared or not, Curry effectively nullified both narratives against the Celtics, a team that had all its young stars in uniform and even had Marcus Smart, the league’s defensive player of the year, spending much of the series with his arms. stuffed inside Curry’s shirt.

For his part, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said there was only one accomplishment missing from Curry’s resume: an Olympic gold medal. (It should be noted that Kerr coaches the US men’s national team.)

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” Kerr said, expressionless. “Honestly, the whole Finals MVP thing? I guess his career has been so flawless, and that’s all we can find. So it’s great to check that box for him. But it’s really hard for me to think that that has really been held against him.”

After the game, as Golden State players and coaches began to gather on a stage for the trophy presentation, Curry hugged each one of them, one by one.

“Back on top, 30!” Looney said, referring to Curry’s uniform number.

Then, as Curry headed toward a courtside tunnel, the remaining fans clamored to get closer to the court, closer to Curry, before he disappeared from sight. He chewed on a victory cigar as he held up his finals MVP trophy, pushing it skyward once, twice, three times.

No one could miss it.

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