SLAM Top 50: Stephen Curry, No. 2

People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art, and I’ll never see it again.—Mary Karr

So are we supposed to hate this guy now? I’ve been told I’m supposed to hate this guy.

Here’s Stephen Curry in the trebuchet, about to be launched into the ocean. He kind of half-hopped his way through the Finals for an injury he refused to disclose and now he’s up here, a meme, a living 3-1 lead being blown ad infinitum.

Then he accidentally doubled down on it. The Warriors, who—if you haven’t heard—blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, got the other blown lead guy, Kevin Durant, the fourth best basketball player in the world. The people with the pitchforks turned at last away from LeBron James, who they hated for no reason for like a solid decade there, and onto Steph.

Somebody’s gotta be in the trebuchet, about to be thrown aside.

You’re supposed to hate him now. Which sucks, because I thought he had something special.

Here’s the thing about a villain on the Internet: It doesn’t take much anymore. It is, in hindsight, still unclear what Anne Hathaway ever did, and where is she now? Is Anne Hathaway dead? I don’t know. No one knows. Somebody check on Anne Hathaway.

Being a villain on the Internet is a fickle thing. It’s misfortune explained unfortunately. So Steph, marketed into an unexplainable, is the bad guy now.

Steph just won two straight MVPs, the second one unanimously. LeBron is starting to look a little old and rugged. No matter what they say, or who else they come up with to play next to him and Kyrie and Love, he’s driving the Cavs like a pickup truck in the Daytona 500. It is admirable and inconceivable—in a sport where actual goddamn scientists mess around with the motors now—that an old-timey pickup truck won the Daytona 500.

Then, on July 5, some guy came by and replaced Steph’s very nice car with a spaceship.

It would be boring to root for him. It would be boring to root for a rocket ship in a race against anything.

But I don’t think you understand what we have.

Please forgive me for calling attention to your short attention span. It’s a sore subject for all of us. Nobody really knows how we all got this broken this fast, but here we are.

Look back to February, the last time it was cold, when basketball was lifting you through the winter and the sudden realization that a racist Flamin’ Hot Cheeto has an earnest shot at running the country. It was rough.

People were still trying to find ways to call Steph Curry a fluke back then. This was only eight months ago, but it’s true. Some still believed averaging five made threes a game was a hot hand that went on way too long, like a reverse flu.

Then this game against the Thunder happened.

Previously, basketball players had limited range. Then they didn’t anymore. Steph was breaking a sport in real time, and not through his size or some bullshit preternatural athletic thing regular people can’t do. He was doing it by being great in a way nobody had the guts to be before.

He capped it off with a half-court shot that he flung casually, like a layup in a driveway. If you were to call Steph a villain in that moment, you’d be a sociopath.

But here we are, eight months later, all of us or none of us sociopaths.

Listen, he has a new weapon that’s going to make this team practically unbeatable. I get it. I understand. You can’t double anybody on the Warriors because one skip pass means three free points. It is beautiful and it is awful and it is unfair and life is a horrendous contradiction, only compounded by time.

Know that we hate this concept because we read it on the Internet. We get to see it and love it and hate it and love it again, just faster.

But remember: It does, eventually, go away. Steph is in this form now, for who knows how long. This is a great work of art, and I’ll never see it again.


2009: –
2010: 35
2011: 31
2012: 47
2013: 10
2014: 5
2015: 4

2016: 2


SLAM Top 50 Players 2016
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Ben Simmons 76ers SF 9
49 D’Angelo Russell Lakers PG 12
48 Derrick Favors Jazz PF 12
47 Devin Booker Suns SG 8
46 Chris Bosh Heat PF 11
45 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 7
44 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
43 Serge Ibaka Magic PF 10
42 CJ McCollum Blazers SG 6
41 Pau Gasol Spurs PF 9
40 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 9
39 Kevin Love Cavs PF 8
38 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 7
37 Kristaps Porzingis Knicks PF 6
36 Kemba Walker Hornets PG 10
35 Dwight Howard Hawks C 8
34 Hassan Whiteside Heat C 7
33 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 8
32 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 9
31 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
30 Dwyane Wade Bulls SG 5
29 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 5
28 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
27 Al Horford Celtics C 5
26 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 6
25 Isaiah Thomas Celtics PG 8
24 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 4
23 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 4
22 Andre Drummond Pistons C 3
21 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 7
20 Karl-Anthony Towns T-Wolves C 2
19 Jimmy Butler Bulls SG 3
18 LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs PF 4
17 John Wall Wizards PG 6
16 Draymond Green Warriors PF 3
15 Carmelo Anthony Knicks SF 5
14 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2
13 Klay Thompson Warriors SG 2
12 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 5
11 Chris Paul Clippers PG 4
10 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 3
9 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 1
8 Paul George Pacers SF 4
7 James Harden Rockets SG 1
6 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 1
5 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 3
4 Kevin Durant Warriors SF 2
3 Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 2
2 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 1
1 LeBron James Cavs SF 1

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

Follow the entire SLAM Top 50 countdown.