Watching Stephen Curry during the 2014-15 season was a privilege. He fluttered around every court he played on, shaking defenders with vicious crossovers, dropping dimes with either hand, hitting floaters from impossible angles, drilling the most three-pointers any one player ever has in one season in NBA history. His upheaval of common basketball knowledge, where you’d rather see a player shoot a three than get to the rim, happened in a flash. As soon as the ’14-15 campaign began, Curry punched the League in the mouth with such quickness and power that it’s still trying to figure out how to stop Chef Curry from cooking.
Curry reached such a high level last season that no matter how anybody tried to break down a matchup, the rebuttal could just be, “Yeah, but the Warriors have Curry.” Let’s take a look back at Curry’s dream season through the words of the man himself and those around him, in a basketball fairytale for the ages.
The Golden State Warriors get eliminated in the first round of the 2014 Playoffs. Curry averages 24 points and 8.5 assists in 78 regular season games. Mark Jackson leads the Dubs to a 54-28, but is fired after the postseason. The Warriors hire Steve Kerr as head coach. Kerr starts the season 21-2, including a 16-game win streak. The highlight of the winning streak comes when Curry hits a game winner against the Orlando Magic.
Stephen Curry: When I got the rebound and turned, I saw it was a 1-on-3, about 10, 12 seconds left, and my initial thought when I got the ball was to go and get fouled. But as soon as I crossed half court, I gave [Tobias Harris] one move and he bit.
Steve Kerr: I was thinking, ‘Don’t call timeout.’ Steph Curry in the open floor is going to get a better shot than anything we’re going to be able to draw up. I figured he would shoot a three. That’s what Steph does. He bailed us out.
Andrew Bogut: It was going in. I knew it as soon as he did the inside-out. Tobias went the wrong way. I’m like, ‘This is bottoms.’
Curry averages 23 points and 7.7 assists through the first season’s 23 games. He eclipses 30+ points five times and has six double-doubles during the streak and a 40-point game in Miami in November. It’s the first time the League sees the new version of Curry.
Klay Thompson: Steph does what he does. He made 40 look easy.
Kerr: That guy Steph Curry was not bad. He was unreal. He was ridiculous. He’s so potent. The beauty of his game tonight was the patience, the decision making. I thought he played the perfect game.
Bogut: He took the game over offensively for us. They couldn’t figure out how to get the ball out of his hands and when they did, we got great shots. He did a hell of a job distributing and being aggressive. But when he’s in that mode, it’s a luxury for us to play with him.
Erik Spoelstra: I’ll tell you what, there’s only, maybe, two or three guys that can shoot those kind of three’s off the dribble. And that’s the fastest release I’ve ever seen.
Chris Bosh: He had some wide-open shots. I don't know how you lose the best shooter in the world. I don't know how you lose that guy, but we did.
The Warriors end the 2014 calendar year with a 25-5 record. Curry explodes for 51 (26 in the third quarter) against the Mavericks in February.
Curry: If I had any kind of daylight off the pick-and-roll, I was going to shoot it. I had a good feel and a good rhythm.
Rick Carlisle: He had one of those extra-special nights. I’ve never seen anybody in this league hit shots like that from that distance.
Tyson Chandler: It’s one thing for him to hit the spot-up shots, but he hit shots in traffic, he makes tough floaters. An incredible all-around game.
Kerr: He was making ridiculous shots—there’s no defense for that. He obviously just took it upon himself to go nuts. And the guy made 10 threes, so he was special.
Curry continues to improve his game and profile. More and more people begin to take notice.
Kerr: [Curry] just keeps getting better and better, as a result of his talent and work ethic. There’s a fearless feeling of we can beat anybody at any time. And that comes from Steph.
Alvin Gentry [then-Warriors Assistant, current Pelicans Head Coach]: I’ve been in the league 25 years, and I can’t go back and say that anyone can shoot the ball off the dribble like Steph can. Stephen Curry shoots the ball off the dribble better than anyone that's ever walked on a basketball court. And to me, that's the toughest thing. I love watching him play.
Luke Walton: [Stephen] has the ability to love the moment, to want to take the big shot and elevates his game in the big moments.
Jerry West: [Stephen] is the most unique player I think I’ve ever seen. I always thought Magic Johnson was the most unique player, because of all the different things he could do. But this kid, he doesn’t play the game with force. He is nothing but finesse. People talk about his shooting, but he’s a shot-maker. He can make tough shots. He is fearless.
Curry’s popularity blows up. The Warriors go into the All-Star break with a 42-9 record. In his 51 games before the 2015 All-Star Game, Curry averages 23.6 points, 7.9 assists, 2.2 steals and leads the NBA in All-Star Voting with 1.5 million votes. He easily wins the three-point contest.
His fame goes to another level after he crosses Chris Paul three different times in March. Curry weaves through four Clippers in the third quarter, hitting a stepback three off the dribble.
Jeff Van Gundy, on ABC: That could be the greatest move I’ve ever seen live. No, I’m being serious.
Kerr: Chagrined and gratified. Within three seconds, that pretty much sums it up. I think there were nine seconds on the shot clock when he took the shot. It looked like Steph thought there was one second on the shot clock, the way he shot it. The possession was strange, the ball was moving around a little bit, we were a little out of whack. Then he throws the ball up and I’m like, ‘What are you… good job. Good work.’ Nothing he does surprises me anymore.
Draymond Green: If you look at the tape, I was yelling ‘Klay, Klay, Klay,’ because Klay was wide open. Then he shot the ball. I was like, ‘Never mind.’ It was an incredible play. I always tell y’all don’t much he do excite me anymore, just because I’m getting to a point where it’s just Steph being Steph. But that was incredible.
Less than a month later, Curry gets Paul again with a double behind the back move. The play just about breaks Twitter.
Bogut: I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of memes. I’m looking forward to getting on Instagram and Twitter and seeing exactly what they’re doing on the Photoshop because there’s a lot of antics that were going behind the bench when it happened, and it was a hell of a play by Steph.
Chris Paul: That man is tough. Obviously he has a great handle.
Curry: I snaked through the paint and [Paul] was trailing and I thought I could make a move back to the basket. Somewhere with the creativity in between doing the double move, I saw him go down and I knew I had to shoot it.
Mid-April. Curry has been locked in an MVP race with James Harden for months. The Trail Blazers come to town. Curry goes off for 45 points and 10 assists. He breaks his own record for most three-pointers made in a season, nearly solidifying his bid for MVP.
LaMarcus Aldridge: He played like he wants to be MVP.
Damian Lillard: We tried to mix up our coverages a little bit because he came out making shots from everywhere. It pretty much just didn't matter. He made shots with a hand in his face, off balance, deep, everything. He just had it going.
Harrison Barnes: He’s the MVP of the League. It’s fun to watch. When he gets going, we just try to give him space, make sure he gets clean looks and then after that, those shots he hit, that’s all him.
Kerr: There’s nothing left to say, except that he’s the MVP. He was just… I don’t even know how to describe what we watched tonight. I have never seen a player with his skill set.
Before the Playoffs start, Curry gains even more attention after hitting 77 straight threes in practice.
Bruce Fraser [Warriors Assistant]: The day he had that 77 in a row was amazing. We didn’t set out to set some record. We just did our normal thing and we shot 100 that day from five spots. That particular day, he made 77. But he also made 94 out of 100. That was a good day.
Curry’s first iconic moment of the 2015 Playoffs comes in Game 3 of the first round against the Pelicans. He makes a game-tying three from the left corner with two defenders in his face, capping a 20-point comeback, on his way to another 40-point game.
Curry: I've been a part of a couple comebacks, but not with that much of a deficit in the Playoffs. It feels kind of surreal. I knew I had a few seconds to get the shot off, and thankfully I got it off quick enough before those two guys clobbered me.
Dell Curry: That was unbelievable. I thought he got fouled. I had no idea he would win this game. I don’t know how to explain that. Just to get the shot off in the corner… because Anthony Davis is running at him, Steph had to get it higher to get it in.
Kerr: To make that shot shows everything that Steph is about. His confidence level is just off the charts. He's fearless. He wants every big shot.
Shaun Livingston: [Stephen] is the meanest one out here. Don’t let the babyface fool you.
Curry’s announced as MVP on May 3. In a 40-minute acceptance speech, Curry tearfully thanks his family and brings his entire team on stage, thanking them individually. The entire nation is now on the Curry bandwagon.
Ethan Strauss [ESPN Writer]: Curry doesn't boast the ultra physical version of dominance we associated with Shaquille O'Neal's tendency to cave in defenses, but his is dominance nonetheless. Shaq bashed defenses till they broke. Steph stretches defenses till they snap.
Sam Amick [USA Today Writer]: As MVP career arcs go, Curry's was different than most. He was heralded in college while at Davidson but instantly questioned in NBA circles when it came to his pro potential. Curry, his best days seemingly still ahead, has certainly found his way with these Warriors.
Zach Lowe [Grantland Writer]: He was a million miles from a sure thing. He had a head for the game and the subtle knack of a craftsman born into the trade. This, to me, is the most amazing thing about Steph Curry’s run to the forefront of the 2014-15 NBA MVP race: He seems to come simultaneously from the dead center of the game and from absolutely nowhere. He grew up in NBA locker rooms, yet he crashed into the league from the most remote satellite in the basketball cosmos.
In the Western Conference Finals, Curry lights up the Rockets during Game 3. He pours in another 40-point night, breaking Reggie Miller’s record for most thress made during a postseason (59 in 13 games).
Kerr: Steph was Steph. The shooting is hard to describe because I don't think we've ever seen anybody shoot the ball the way Steph does.
Festus Ezeli: MVP. That’s the MVP. That’s our leader, that’s our MVP. He’s putting on a show.
In the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Curry awakens to singlehandedly take a 3-2 series lead against the Cavaliers. He scores 37 points in the game, 17 in the fourth. On one play, Curry shakes loose of Cavs’ guard Matthew Dellavedova for a deep three.
Andre Iguodala: It was a crossover play, hit him with the bop-bop and [Dellavedova] leaves his feet, almost falls back and Steph had that rhythm about him when he shot it. You knew it was going in as soon as it was leaving his hands.
Kerr: That was just Steph taking over the game. He took over the game down the stretch and was fantastic.
LeBron James: There’s a lot of things that hurt us tonight—Steph being one of them. Some of the shots that Steph made, you have to tip your hat to a guy like that.
Green: You know, I’m taking Steph in any matchup. So [Dellavedova] was hounding and physical, dirty, it’s a fine line, whatever you want to call it. I was going with Steph no matter what, and I’m still rolling with Steph no matter what.
Curry and the Warriors win the 2015 Championship in Game 6. Curry averages 28.3 points, 6.4 assists and 5 rebounds in the Playoffs. Curry’s 2014-15 season sees him break his own record for most three-pointers made during a single season and set the record for most three-pointers made during a single postseason. He is the fastest to 1,000 three-pointers in a career. He finishes the regular season second in total points and field goals. He’s first in total steals and free throw percentage, fourth in total assists, third in three-point percentage, and sixth in points and assists per game. He helps to set the Warriors’ franchise record for wins and capture the franchise’s first title since 1975. Curry also passes LeBron James for most-sold jersey in the League. The Under Armour Curry One sells out online. UA’s basketball sales increase by 754 percent in 2015’s second quarter, which runs until June 30, two weeks after Curry’s dream season ends.
Kerr: I was around Tim Duncan and Steve Nash, and those are the two guys [Stephen] reminds me of. Incredible talent mixed with humility. It’s a powerful, really powerful, force. Humility with a lack of confidence is not a good thing. Humility with an arrogance is awesome. That sounds counterintuitive, but that’s Steph. He’s unbelievably humble, and yet he’s the biggest gunslinger in the League and he’ll rip your heart out.