Kevin Durant’s arrival in The Bay Area last summer forced Stephen Curry to adapt his game—to do a little bit less, to put up fewer gaudy numbers—but he insists that critics of the season he’s had don’t know what they’re talking about.
The reigning, two-time MVP shined brightest when KD was out with a knee injury.
My last ESPN article is on Steph Curry’s sacrifices https://t.co/nPfd807b7Z
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) May 2, 2017
The 29-year-old superstar’s numbers may be down across the board, but he’s not ready to concede anything.
“I think Steph catered to the whole theme of pleasing,” Bruce Fraser, the Warriors-appointed shooting coach, would later say. “He wanted to please. He catered to the whole, took less for himself. The irony in this season so far is that we had to learn how to play with KD, had to learn how to play without him. And both of those were challenges.”
Indeed, by season’s end, the seesaw act had worked to the tune of 67 wins. And after Durant’s return to the lineup in early April, the two combined for 119 points on 37-of-66 shooting in two games together in their first-round series sweep of the Trail Blazers. Still, two games does not a championship run make. In fact, it takes two months. Few have learned that lesson quite like Curry. One month he was touted as the “unanimous MVP.” The next, after a disappointing loss in the Finals, “unanimous MVP” became a sardonic epithet, a cudgel against a guy who’d rushed back from injury and into his own basketball Waterloo. He knows all too well that a season of never-ending praise can be upended in days. “I know if I’m not playing well,” he says. “And I can’t say that anybody’s right in the way that they talk about my year.”
The tone is one of defiance, the nice guy offering a soft indictment of the superstar celebration process. The nice guy has done some nice things to facilitate wins. Maybe he won’t get due credit, maybe he’ll regret certain sacrifices, but he’ll know what he did and why he did it. And as he slips into the locker room, he sighs, offering one final thought: “Hypebeasts are gonna hypebeast.”