For the majority of Steph Curry’s NBA career, he’s been treated unfairly.
Early on, many thought that the NCAA Tournament darling from Davidson would become a bust. It wasn’t fair that his body was betraying him, as he missed more than half of his third season with leg and ankle injuries.
Later on, Curry and the Warriors became the league’s most popular team. He became the NBA’s first unanimous MVP and white America loved him. Curry had turned into the star former league commissioner David Stern would have killed for in his bid to make basketball marketable for corporate America. Clean-cut. Christian. Light-skinned. Family Man. Those things place you on a pedestal in America. Curry never asked for that, it was unfairly thrust upon him.
And now, Curry is the face of the franchise that had the worst record in the league (15-50) last season due to multiple injuries and the departure of Kevin Durant. This season, the Warriors are again being ravaged by injuries. Klay Thompson will miss his second consecutive season, Draymond Green hasn’t played a game yet, and big man Marquese Chriss is also done for the year.
And if that wasn’t enough, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. are shooting a combined 23-for-89 (25.8 percent) from the field and a dismal 4-for-30 (13 percent) from three. It’s definitely unfair when the two veteran starters next to you on the wing are making over $14 million (Oubre Jr.) and $29 million (Wiggins) this season are shooting that badly. Especially when you’re in the gym doing this.
On Sunday night, the Warriors won their first game of the season when they stole one from the Bulls 129-128, when Curry’s brother-in-law, Damion Lee, hit the game-winner with 1.7 seconds left.
Curry finished the game with 36 points after struggling early, on a night in which he became only the third player in league history to make 2,500 three-pointers.
Through three games, these are Curry’s numbers.
Brooklyn: 30 minutes, 7-for-21 from the field, 2-for-10 from 3, 10 assists, 20 points. The Warriors lost by 26.
Milwaukee: 29 minutes, 6-for-17 from the field, 2-for-10 from 3, 6 assists, 19 points. The Warriors lost by 39.
Chicago: 36 minutes, 11-for-25 from the field, 5-for-15 from 3, 6 assists, 36 points. The Warriors won by 1.
As you can see, until Green is back in the lineup and Wiggins and Oubre Jr. can get out of their shooting slumps, Curry is going to have to be everything for the Warriors this season, even in a one-point game against the winless Chicago Bulls.
Again, that can seem unfair. But it’s what all NBA superstars have to deal with. It’s been that way for years. At some point, the face of the franchise is going to have to carry his team, and not only do his job extremely well every game but also chip in across the board. The thing is, this usually happens when stars are younger and on the rise. Curry is dealing with it at the age of 32 with three championships and the two MVPs on his resume.
The fascinating footnote that made the Warriors rise to prominence so interesting was that, outside of Kevin Durant, the core of their team was built through the draft. Curry, Thompson, and Green were all handpicked by the Warriors, and over time they became the foundation of the team with the best regular season (73-9) in league history.
Early in his career, Curry had Monta Ellis as a backcourt mate and David Lee in the frontcourt. They would soon be replaced with Thompson and Green. Then came Durant. But this season, it’s just Curry. Well, that is until Green returns to the lineup. But even then, the spotlight will be on No. 30 like never before, as his game will get poked and prodded all season.
In sports, we love to have conversations about who we think is under and overrated. I hate those discussions because far too many times they lack context, and people act as if “properly rated” isn’t also a category.
This season, Steph Curry will be singing lead with the weight of the franchise on his shoulders. And by the end of it, we’ll know for certain just how good he is as a solo act.
It’s a process that all the greats have to endure. And when you think about it that way, it may be the first “fair” thing that’s happened to Curry in his career.