There is a lengthy list of words that one could use to attempt to describe Steph Curry. A gunslinging warmonger in Golden State Warriors blue and gold, a ball-handling magician to the nth degree, and a proficient marksman from anywhere in a gymnasium, Steph knows few limitations. He is unexpectedly quick, unusually shifty, increasingly intelligent. Breathing fire as the ice in his bloodstream brings him to an eerie equilibrium, Steph will rip the heart out of your most choice opposition, devour it in front of his doubters and their loved ones, and hurry home in a high-end but not-too-flashy sports car to tuck in his children within the span of an hour.
Steph’s blazing bursts of net-destroying rage and his cold, commanding sneer bizarrely paired with his oft-mentioned “just like us” appeal strikes a chord of unnerving recollection. Within the confines of an NBA court, he is reminiscent of Walter White without the drug empire, Tony Soprano without the Cosa Nostra, and Daenerys Targaryen without the big ass dragons. Both wholly unassuming and entirely inevitable, Steph Curry is the purest of paradoxes.
The list is never-ending.
As Steph Curry holds the league to the torch as only he can, we find ourselves in the stranglehold of yet another unexplainable moment for the Warriors.
But ironically, the most fittingly descriptive label for Steph just so happens to be the one-word antithesis of that very adjective. He is perfectly indescribable. Through thorough observation, the once-dreamlike reality bounding Steph’s blistering pyrotechnics and the “what the hell am I watching?” sense of awe he elicits becomes a relatively straightforward one:
Everything we read, hear, or say about Stephen Curry has more than likely already been read, heard, or said. After all, when one manages to emphatically defy every preconceived belief of what should be possible on a near-nightly basis for four seemingly endless years, a lack of diverse opinions becomes understandable. Somehow, the incomprehensible became the norm. With Steph, we ran out of original adjectives and creative metaphors a long time ago. Speaking frankly, it is difficult to pinpoint when, exactly, this phenomenon even occurred.
Was it sometime during Steph’s improbable first MVP run? Or did we lose our collective minds when the baby-faced arsonist led the Warriors to a 24-game winning streak to begin the 2015-16 season (a run that propelled the Dubs to a record-setting year)? Maybe our rudderlessness was a slow-burn, our previous notions transforming little by little, night after night amid his revolution-inducing unanimous MVP campaign. Or, most specifically, perhaps our once-rational, compartmentalized Steph-isms packed up their belongings and strolled out of our imaginations directly following his gravity-bending game-winner in Oklahoma City.
Nevertheless, the point remains. Regardless of time, place, space, or dimension—by turning the impossible into probable more often than not—Steph has left us speechless, breathless. Now, five years after his style of play incited a worldwide basketball shift, Steph’s most recent firestorm proves one thing: the more the league endures such a drastic change, the more the hot-button conversation regarding the assassin who inspired it stays the same.
Over the last 13 games, Steph is averaging 37.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists on 52/47/91 splits. The only reason these numbers are—ahem—so low is due mainly in part to the fact that Steph’s outing against the Wizards on Wednesday night was arguably his worst of the season. Before finally displaying signs that he might be human after all, Steph had registered 30 ticks in the box score in each of the previous 11 contests, thus breaking a record for most consecutive 30-point performances of a player his age. To the surprise of no one, immediately following his subpar showing in the nation’s capital, Steph—as if to remind us that he is, in fact, very good at basketball—added a modest 32-point showing against the Denver Nuggets to his ridiculous run, because of course he did.
During that mind-melting 11-game streak, Steph was scoring a staggering 40 points per game and posing a legitimate threat to join the exclusive “40 Points Per Game for a Calendar Month” Club—a feat that only James Harden, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant (3x), and Wilt Chamberlain (11x) have accomplished. If he picks up where he left off as we know he is beyond capable of doing, the roadmap for Steph to etch his name within that lofty list becomes all the more traversable.
Steph’s recent flamethrowing has also catapulted him into the MVP race once more. Unfortunately, with MVP-worthy seasons from Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo to contend with, the odds of Curry knocking anyone off their current pedestal are probably slim to none. However, Steph receiving a third Most Valuable Player honor pales in importance to the actuality of the situation:
What Steph Curry is managing to accomplish transcends any trophy or award.
He is treating us to history with brain-breaking nightly performances, record-setting streaks, must-see League Pass moments, and a surging push to land the Warriors back in the playoffs in what very easily could have been a throw-away year. He is igniting a flame under what feels like a remarkably dull part of the season, and as we have come to learn about Stephen Curry, no one lights a fire like the man made of fire himself.
At age 33, Steph is single-handedly carrying a shoddy, beaten up, and at times broken Warriors roster to a .500 record. Without Curry manning the helm this season, the Dubs are an atrocious 1-7 with a 19-point average margin of defeat. Their most recent game without Steph accounted for the worst loss of the NBA season, a 53-point, “SHUT UP AND PUT THE MONEY IN THE BAG!” beatdown at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. In the Warriors’ standalone victory without their de facto Commander in Chief, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee combined for 86 points—a joint performance that, meaning all due respect to the trio, might only occur once every one-hundred tries.
Steph is the Warriors. He is basketball in both the Bay Area and beyond. Without Steph, the Warriors would be grasping at straws, and the league would be wishing upon a star for something interesting to happen during the most monotonous moments of this drawn-out season. Yet despite the slog of this current campaign, we are forced to tune into the Steph show because, if we didn’t, we run the chance of missing something like this:
What makes Steph’s run so remarkable is a combination of two things: His scalding performances take precedence, sure, but our wide-eyed perception of them falls close behind. As he continues to hold his opposition to the torch like few has ever been capable of, our expectations grow even greater. After half a decade’s worth of brilliance followed by his year-long sabbatical last season, the Steph hype, for as unstoppable as it once felt, began to subside. But now, as we watch the tear Steph is on, the hysteria seems as strong as ever.
Somehow, Steph Curry manages to try something we have never seen on a nightly basis. Whether or not his otherworldly attempts to amaze pay off is a coin toss, but the fact that the odds are that high is enough to amaze in and of itself. Say what you want about the Jordan’s, Kobe’s, and LeBron’s of the basketball hierarchy, but no one has elicited the shock and awe that Stephen Curry so frequently provides.
At this point, we aren’t just expecting the 40-point flurries, the dazzling crossovers, and the outside-the-area-code three-pointers; we are legitimately expecting the unexpected. Steph’s magic is palpable, his talent nonsensical, and his gravity black hole-esque.
In fleeting moments—especially during an NBA season that has provided very little joy—appreciating greatness in front of us is paramount, and what we currently see from Steph is beyond it. Regardless of how long this thing plays out, all that’s left for us to do is continue riding the wave and hope like hell it never dies. Knowing Steph Curry like we collectively do, my money is on the idea that it won’t.