I will be the first to admit that the NBA’s regular season is far too long and much too predictable. It is not hard to distinguish who the players and who the pretenders are by the all star break. That being said, whenever a player does something to break the monotony of it all, it is highly appreciated by fans across the world. This year, that player is Steph Curry. Surrounded by some of the most talented role players in the history of the game, Steph and his fearless Warriors are making regular season games appointment television once again. The last time the NBA was this good was when players like Jordan, Irving and Bird dominated the hardwood. When you take a step back, and think about what Steph Curry is doing for the league right now, it is truly remarkable. But it leaves many wondering about how he burst onto the scene like he did, a question I will try my best to answer throughout this article.
The story is fairly well known by now, Steph Curry grew up in the shadow of his father, Dell Curry, who was an all star caliber player back in his day. Steph and his little brother, Seth, would often shoot around with Dell’s Charlotte Hornets before games and practices. Clearly, from a very young age, Steph’s world revolved around basketball. He continued to dominate in high school, named to the All-State team along with racking up three conference titles during his four years. However, upon graduation, Steph had not received an offer from any major program. Why would he though? Steph was six foot nothing, weighing in at 160 pounds (soaking wet), not the ideal body that programs like Duke or UNC were looking for. Instead, Steph chose to play his college years at Davidson, where he promptly began to dominate. Steph finally reached the national spotlight with some spectacular shooting displays during the NCAA tournament his sophomore year. After his junior season, Steph declared for the draft and was taken seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 draft. Once again, after a couple years of adjustment, Steph began to show dominance; culminating with his MVP and championship level season last year.
Yet, despite being named the best player and playing for the best team, Steph only continues to improve. He is leading the league in scoring this year at over 29 points per game, on a team that is on pace to finish with a better record than any other team in history. However, Steph’s story, his ability, his success, plays a minor factor in why we love to watch him. We watch Steph Curry, we love Steph Curry, because he is the most relatable superstar athlete the world has seen in a long time.
I acknowledge the fact that he comes from a family of extraordinary athletes, and that he himself has gifts that very few others posses, and in that sense not very many can relate to Steph. Yet there are so many factors that make Steph seem so much more human than the rest of the players in the NBA. Almost no one is blessed with a LeBron-esque physique, a six foot eight frame that is covered in 250 pounds of pure muscle. Not many are like Kevin Durant, a seven footer who can handle and shoot the ball as well as anybody in the league. Fewer still are born and grow into seven foot monsters that control the NBA for decades at a time like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, or Dirk Nowitzki. These guys all take the form of super humans in the view of the general populous, players we watch with our mouths agape and a nagging sense of disbelief.
Even though Steph Curry drops our jaws to the floor with the plays he makes on a night in, night out basis, he is more obtainable to the general public. He is not a physical specimen, he often times looks like a high school player on the NBA court, like a kid who has not yet grown into his body. He is no taller than your everyday human being, he is not a muscle factory, in a lot of ways he is pretty average. Then you put a ball in his hands, and you have never seen a smoother man on the face of the earth, his abilities to pass, dribble, and shoot go completely unparalleled. However, it is easy for everyone who has ever picked up a basketball to see themselves in Steph Curry.
Going further than simply his body, his play style often appeals greatly to the average NBA fan. Once again, I must make the distinction that absolutely no one else besides Steph Curry is able to play and produce at a Steph Curry level. What I am saying though is everyone who has played basketball for long enough knows what it is like to start “heating up,” even if it is for only a few shots in a row. Everyone knows the feeling of dribbling around your defender after making a good move. Everyone has that one, what I like to call backyard play, where they make a miraculous move followed by a shot that catches nothing but nylon. The difference is Steph does those three things regularly, on the highest level, without thinking twice. Not all of us know what it is like to dunk over a seven footer, but we do know what it feels like to play like Steph, even if it was for only a moment.
Bottom line, Steph Curry is having fun and playing the sport that he loves as his profession. I do not know why so many writers, reporters, and fans jump on athletes for showing that they are having fun out on the court, field, etc. When I watch Steph play, it brings a smile to my face. You can tell he loves what he is doing and seeing that should make everyone watching him happy. A player that everyone can relate to, yet at the same time is playing at a level no one else ever has… Steph Curry truly rocks.