For professional athletes, critics are inevitable. And in the NBA, where so much weight is placed on the individual aspect of the game, that holds especially true.
Which is why nobody can seem to agree where players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and even Kevin Durant stand in the court of public opinion.
Whether it be LeBron’s first decision, Kobe’s inability to be self-aware and off-court issues, or Durant’s inability to carry himself on social media; almost every superstar has their “flaws” in public perception — even if they’re fabricated by fans.
But Steph Curry is different.
I thought long and hard, trying to think of something, anything, that you can dislike Steph Curry for.
And it’s incredibly refreshing.
Rarely do we see NBA players play at Curry’s MVP-level and have the amount of fun he does on a nightly basis.
Remember when Nick Young tried this? You know, when he turned around and threw his arms in the air before the ball went through the hoop? Well, he missed and everybody hated him for it.
But Steph Curry only makes shots, and thus we think it’s awesome. When Steph Curry has fun, we have fun.
With the NBA regular season down to its final week, NBA MVP talk is naturally running rampant. The consensus amongst the national media is a four-horse race between James Harden, Russell Westbrook, James, and Curry – with each presenting different and valid arguments.
LeBron took Cleveland from worst to division champions, while his old team in Miami went from the NBA Finals to out of the playoffs in one season.
Harden has overcome the Houston Rockets’ chronic injury issues to lead the NBA in scoring (27.6 PPG), keeping Houston near the top of the Western Conference standings in the process.
Westbrook, well, if you’ve given up technology since February 1st, has taken the NBA by storm. Overcoming his own injury, and a season-long injury to reigning MVP Durant, Westbrook has produced an unconscious 11 triple-doubles this season.
All three have a legitimate argument for the NBA MVP, depending on your interpretation of the award’s qualification. For me, (and most), naming the MVP is based on the answers to two questions:
1. Are you the best player on the best team?
2. How good would your team be without you?
The Warriors are certainly good from top to bottom, but everything flows through Steph. The same could be said about Harden, but Curry and the Warriors are quite literally on a different level.
Via Ben Golliver, here’s two graphs that show the difference in Golden State (top) and Houston’s (bottom) offensive ratings this season when their MVP candidates aren’t playing; as well as the individual ratings of Curry and Harden themselves (furthest bar left).
No matter which way you look at it, Steph Curry and the Warriors have been better than James Harden and the Rockets. Curry is an elite passer and a volume-scoring point guard who takes care of the ball – which is why Golden State has obliterated offensive efficiency standards this year.
It’s been a fantastic MVP race between four deserving candidates, something we haven’t been treated to in some time. But the year Steph Curry is having isn’t deserving, it’s special.
Last night, he broke his own record for made three-pointers in a season on the way to 45 points. In February, he won the three-point contest at All-Star weekend. All season long, he’s been the best player on the NBA’s best team.
And he’s having a goddamn blast doing it.
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) April 10, 2015
So often, the NBA MVP is given to the player with the best “story.” That’s why Derrick Rose won it in 2011, and it’s why Kevin Durant won it last year.
When a compelling narrative emerges behind the ridiculous stats, the MVP race becomes a lot clearer.
And here in 2015, Steph Curry is writing a story we haven’t seen before.
(Featured Image courtesy of Keith Allison)