Steph Curry is hot for more than one reason and his ‘wow factor’ keeps soaring higher
Golden State Warriors guard is a diminutive David on the court, but his feats are make him a golden Goliath who is lighting up the NBA and the sports world
This is not a basketball column. This is a column about a basketball player. More importantly this is a column about the pure joy of an unfettered genius. So relax and have a little fun because right now there is nothing like Steph Curry.
The Golden State Warriors wiry point guard is arguably having the greatest season a professional basketball player has ever had.
Last year his team won the NBA championship and he was named the league’s MVP. This year he is better – significantly better. His tour de force performance against the Oklahoma Thunder last week was already legendary before it was even complete.
Curry is easy to spot on the court because he seems to always have the ball. But he is also harder to find because he is often the smallest player on the court.
In a game of Goliaths, he is David with ridiculous range on his slingshot and on this night the Thunder sent one rangy defender after another at him in a futile attempt to block his shots.
He would finish with 12 three-pointers, including one from basically half court to seal the victory in overtime with less than a second remaining.
And he made it all look routine because it was. There is nobody in any sport right now, not even the soccer great Lionel Messi, who routinely makes you shake your head in disbelief more than Curry. He leads the world in wows.
A pop-culture phenom, he has become omnipresent on both sides of the Atlantic as well as Australasia, South America, eastern Europe and anywhere else with electricity.
Last week, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, again, and was also gushingly profiled in the UK in both The Daily Mail and the Telegraph. And now, the final frontier: you, the one who simply can’t stand basketball.
In some precincts, like this one in Hong Kong, there is a propensity among many non-American expats and even some Yanks to scoff at the NBA. For whatever reasons no North American sport routinely solicits groans like basketball.
No doubt it can be loud and brash, occasionally immature and often narcissistic. But it’s also viral, international and youthful, and maybe, just maybe, it has pushed coverage of your favourite sport to the sidelines a bit.
Of course, while there may be something annoyingly intrusive to you about basketball, it is still the second most popular sport in the world.
Curry’s genius is not necessarily going to make you a basketball fan. There are a number of people who no longer watch golf because Tiger Woods is now irrelevant.
They were never golf fans, they were Tiger fans and that is completely understandable considering the sheer charisma of his dominance. Tiger was impossible to ignore.
It’s the same with Curry. It’s OK to watch him, to thrill at the spectacle of his greatness and while it might still be basketball, enjoying Curry won’t automatically make you a hip-hop gangster.
You might well go out and cover your body in tattoos, but that won’t be because of him. Clean cut, articulate, unfailingly generous and decent, he is not exactly leading the thug life.
After sinking the winning shot against Oklahoma, he celebrated with his teammates before doing a little three-step jig that led a few pious commentators to yelp: please! Can you not do a dance after every basket! Well he doesn’t.
But if making a last second shot from near half court to win a big game after scoring 46 points, including 12 three-pointers, doesn’t allow you a pirouette or two than nothing will.
It’s hardly taunting, considering a slew of his opponents could not resist tweeting how mesmerising his performance was.
They know instinctively that what he is doing is good for the game and great for business. His shots may land pure and quiet in the basket but the sound they make is unmistakable: ka-ching!
There is also the pure joy Curry and his teammates bring to the game. “I know the league is so fluid,” he said. “One trade, one bad free-agent signing, and it’s over. So there’s no way I’m not going to have fun. I never fail to savour it,” he said.
Of all the things that define Curry’s greatness – uncanny vision, breathtaking ball handling and full-court shooting range – his ability to live in the moment is the most impressive. He is not perfect and even his transcendent genius comes with a caveat and a burden.
But through it all he appears to be the most well adjusted athlete in professional sports. Steph Curry is leading the entire world in wows regardless of whether the entire world acknowledges it.