Stephen Curry is on a dangerous path, and it has nothing to do with his new shoes (they just passed toolboxes as the #1 Father’s Day gift this weekend). Curry has revolutionized the sport of basketball and led his team to historical heights. His Golden State Warriors are one win away from winning the NBA Finals twice in a row. Despite his team’s success up 3-2, Steph Curry finds himself in unprecedented territory. Why? Because in two straight Finals appearances he has under performed. Last year Andre Iguodala won MVP, Draymond Green was a triple-double machine, and LeBron James led the entire series in every major stat. That made Curry the fourth-best player in the championship at best. After this year’s Game 3, Curry said, “I have to play 100 times better. I didn’t play my game.” The problem is that if this quote had come after Games 1, 2, and 5, it would still fit perfectly. Aside from his 38-point Game 4, Curry has been an inconsistent shooter, ball distributor, and defender. The latter is evidenced by Kyrie Irving’s utter domination at 28 points per game and 48% shooting, compared to Curry’s 42%.
Numbers aside, Curry has been most dominant as a decoy thus far. The attention given to him allows Draymond Green to continue to make a huge impact, while Klay Thompson shoots lights out from every spot on Earth. Yet, all that does is feed more fire to the narrative of Curry’s disappearing act. Tonight’s Game 6 is his opportunity to bury that narrative forever.
If you look at some of the great NBA trios (Jordan/Pippen/Rodman, James/Wade/Bosh, Pierce/Allen/Garnett) you’ll find one common theme: The difference between the leader and the two sidekicks is clear. Evaluating Golden State at times (Curry/Thompson/Green), that line is blurred. We know Curry should be the leader. I mean, he was the league’s first ever unanimous MVP! But now the world is watching the Warriors’ two sidekicks fight the battle alone.
The “Baby-Faced Assassin” must act now in order to save a legacy that hangs in the balance. If he is not phenomenal tonight, his chances of obtaining Finals MVP disappear, whether they win or lose the game. The next domino to fall will be an everlasting asterisk by his name. Steph Curry will be forever known as the point guard who obliterated opponents in every type of game except the ones that mattered most. In fact, if Golden State wins the Finals, he would be the only NBA player to win MVP and the Finals in the same year, but not the Finals MVP… twice.
The best player on the best team is one who takes control and leads them to victory. Stephen Curry is undoubtedly the best Golden State Warrior, and his killer instinct within knows it. As the world turns on the TV, the hope is that he shows it. This isn’t about Green, Thompson, Livingston, or Bogut. If Curry wants to prove himself, tonight’s the perfect moment.