BOSTON – A few seconds left in Stephen Curry’s NBA season when he spotted his father, Dell, sitting along one of the baselines. went to hug himThen he fell on the court in tears.
“It’s surreal,” said Carey. “I just wanted to enjoy the moment because it was so special.”
Over six games of the NBA Finals, Curry has provided Golden State with a narrow range of feats that ranged from the extraordinary to the remarkable. He taps past walls of defenders for up-and-down joggers, and undoes faded jumpers. He stunned some fans while demoralizing others. He asked for the spotlight, then threw.
He effectively turned the Court to his personal theater and the Celtics into his weak chips, giving performance after performance on a two-week tour whose only flaw was that almost everyone could start to anticipate the ending – with Curry walking off the stage as champion once again.
After Golden State beat Boston, 103-90, on Thursday to clinch their fourth title in eight seasons, Curry, 34, reflected on the long journey back to the top: injuries, lopsided losses, skeptics and uncertainty. He also recalled the moment when he began preparing for the start of the current season – 371 days ago.
“The last two months of playoffs, these past three years, these past 48 hours — every bit of it has been an emotional rollercoaster on and off the ground,” Curry said, “and you carry it all in on a daily basis to try and achieve a dream and a goal like we did tonight.” .
The numbers tell one story, and it’s worth emphasizing. For the series, Curry averaged 31.2 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 48.2 percent of the field and 43.7 percent of 3-point range. He was unanimously selected as the most important player in the finals.
“We got pregnant, and we’re here as champions,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said.
But there was art to Curry’s work in the series as well, and it was a deep reminder of all he did to reshape the way fans – and even fellow gamers – think about the game. The way he extends the court with interplanetary shooting. The way post players use to create space is using pickup rolls. The way he boosted the self-esteem of young players everywhere.
“When I come home to Milwaukee and watch my team play and practice training, everyone wants to be Steve,” said Kevin Looney of Golden State. “Everyone wants to shoot a triple, and I’m like, ‘Man, you have to work a little bit harder to shoot like him. I see him every day.’ “
For two seasons, of course, in the wake of Golden State’s disastrous, injury-strewn journey to the 2019 Finals, some of that joy was missing. The warriors clashed in a slow rebuilding process.
The team has reassembled the pieces this season, but there were no guarantees. Curry missed the last 12 games of the regular season due to a sprained left foot, then worsened the injury in Game 3 of the Finals. All he did in Game 4 was to score 43 points to help Golden State even in the series in two games each.
He showed he was lethal in Game 5, losing all nine of his three-point attempts, but his supporting cast filled the void. Among them: Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Paul, who developed their games during Golden State’s hiatus without the playoffs and were indispensable in the post-season.
“Our guys believed we could get back to this point and win,” Curry said. “And even if it didn’t make sense to anyone when we said it, all of these things matter.”
For Game 6 on Thursday, Curry broke the entire buffet. He used a fake pump to send Al Horford of the Celtics to an expensive row of seats. He baited defenders in traps and pressed passes to cut his teammates. After a big wave in the third quarter, he stared at the crowd and pointed his ring finger. (Translation: He was ready for more jewels.)
Curry began to get emotional when Boston coach Aime Odoka called up his reserve from the bench just over a minute ago, ceding the series and championship. Standing alone in the middle of the court, Carrie seemed to laugh and cry at the same time, a delightful mixture of emotions.
“You imagine what the feelings would be,” he said, “but it’s different.”
In a world of sports consumed by debate shows, uninformed opinions, and heated comments on social media, two superstars—unfairly—seem to be tracking Curry like fumes. The first is that he didn’t help his team win a title without Kevin Durant and didn’t defeat an eventual opponent who was at full power. The second is that he was not named the best player in the finals
Interested or not, Curry suppressed both narratives against the Celtics, a team that had all of its young stars in uniform and even Marcus Smart, the league’s best defensive player of the year, and spent good parts of the series with his team. Arms tucked inside Jersey Carey.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, for his part, said there was only one achievement missing from Curry’s resume: an Olympic gold medal. (It should be noted that Kerr coaches the US men’s national team.)
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist,” Kerr said. “Honestly, everything is the best player in the finals? I think his career has been impeccable, and that’s the only thing we can really find. So it’s great to tick that box for him. But it’s really hard for me to think that this has been exposed. He already has it.”
After the match, as Golden State’s players and coaches began gathering on stage to present the trophy, Curry hugged each of them, one by one.
“Back to the top, 30!” said Lonnie, pointing to Carrie’s costume number.
Then, as Curry made his way toward a stadium-side tunnel, stranded fans demanded to get closer to the court, closer to Curry, before he disappeared from view. He chomped on his victory cigar while holding his World Cup Finals MVP trophy high, pushing it skyward once, twice, three times.
No one can miss it.