At 27 years old, Stephen Curry is at an age where most like him are trying to figure out how to survive until the weekend, what to cook for dinner and how to match up shoes to an outfit before stepping out for the evening. Curry’s world is not like yours or mine, but despite that, there is a unique ability to identify with the NBA’s biggest superstar—a quality that is incredibly rare for a professional athlete of his caliber and standing—without knowing him on a personal level.
Curry wasn’t selected in the top five of his 2009 draft class, flying off the board at No. 7 just one pick after Jonny Flynn and a slot before Jordan Hill. Curry didn’t attend a powerhouse basketball program like so many others in his position did before, instead going to Davidson College. Coming out of high school, Curry wasn’t recruited as the standout of his class or anywhere close to it. Instead, he was a three-star recruit—like so many who have tried and failed to make it as a professional athlete—who could barely get a second look despite his spectacular shooting prowess . Curry had to grow into his 6’3”, 190 lb. frame when others had surpassed that point prior to their high school graduation. In every way, shape and form, Curry was the anti-LeBron James, a freak athlete who everyone knew was going to be the top pick in his draft class by the time he was 12 years old.
Curry doesn’t tower over his opposition in both size and strength like James, but they cower each and every time No. 30 steps onto the floor. Viewing himself as a warrior long before he wore it across his jersey, Curry’s ascension to the top of the NBA is unfolding before our eyes.
Prior to planting his flag after successfully scaling the MVP Mountain, Curry was anything but a guaranteed superstar. Battling every night to prove his worth in a league that believed it was above him, Curry began to battle ankle issues during late 2010, ultimately having surgery during the offseason designed to strengthen and improve the stability of an area that had been subjected to repetitive damage. After waiting what must have felt like years to get back onto the basketball court between his procedure and the infamous NBA lockout, Curry again navigated through choppy waters with his right ankle. Trying everything to remain in the lineup and keep his ankle healthy, Curry was limited to just 26 games before undergoing yet another procedure. It appeared his career was already at a crossroads.
The Warriors, overlooking the issues that had some comparing Curry to Brandon Roy and prematurely asking what could have been, chose to believe in Curry’s enormous heart and potential, rewarding their point guard with a four-year, $44 million contract. At the time, the move drew an immense amount of skepticism, criticism and some began to wonder if the Warriors were headed down a familiar path they had worked so hard to escape from. Many teams still incorrectly sign players based on a past that won’t return without giving proper weight to the uncertain future ahead. In hindsight, the Warriors decision to pay Curry for his future instead of relying on the past to influence their call turned out to be the smartest maneuver the franchise has made in its history.
Since that time, the baby-faced assassin has turned into a cold-blooded killer, capable of removing anything or anybody standing in his way on the hardwood.
We’ve become desensitized to LeBron’s greatness because it’s become an expectation, and that’s really a credit to James and what he’s been able to achieve. No longer is it a spectacle to turn on your favorite NBA highlight show and see what LeBron did because we know it’s going to be great. Instead, we’re watching because we want to see what Curry does next. Seemingly impossible three-point shots? He’ll make them. Contested drives to the basket while navigating through the forest of seven-foot trees? No problem. Such a talented shooter that some tend to forget he’s capable of making jaw-dropping passes, Curry defines and then re-defines the term offensive weapon.
Yet still, no matter what he does, so many continue to ask the same question: How does that guy do that? Curry, who so often makes NBA basketball look like he’s playing a video game, has become the human cheat code in a game that hasn’t figured out how to stop him. In a sport that’s been influenced and defined by its previous giants, nobody can build a blueprint for getting into Chef Curry’s Kitchen.
How many times do you think Curry was told he wouldn’t make it by those who never did? Too short, too skinny, or not strong enough by some standards, Curry continued to develop and define himself by his own.
Curry can make our basketball dreams come to life, and we see ourselves in the point guard. The everyman, father of two, loving husband and son.
You don’t need binoculars to see why Curry has taken James’ crown and now sits atop the league in his throne as King of the NBA.