OKLAHOMA CITY -– As this record-shattering season rolls on for the Warriors, it is abundantly evident that Steph Curry has outgrown the confines of basketball or, for that matter, the NBA.
He’s an entertainer par excellence. The court is the place where he conceives, creates and displays his art.
As he approaches his 28th birthday, Curry is producing and starring in a sort of hoops choreography that seems so impromptu but clearly is the result of years of preparation. The beauty comes as much from sweat as from talent. He is using the basketball court the way Michael Jackson once used the concert stage.
The court is a place where, as fabulous as his teammates are, Curry can captivate the entire spotlight. Even as he operates within the framework of a group, his solo genius is so spectacularly beguiling it overshadows all around him.
“I’m nervous playing with him every night,” teammate Marreese Speights concedes.
Each time we think we’ve seen his best, Curry somehow finds a way to top himself, stripping away convention, redefining the game and thereby elevating his significance within it.
His latest work, Thursday night in Orlando, was astonishing in its brilliance yet hardly abnormal. That he scored 51 points in a Warriors victory is impressive enough but doesn’t begin to reveal what took place at Amway Center.
Curry was The Show. Again. From the pregame ritual fans line up to glimpse to the passing and the rebounding and the shooting -– the 3-pointer from half-court is something he can drop in his sleep -– Curry commanded every eye in this crowded room.
“It’s no secret,” Magic guard Victor Oladipo said after the game. “I don’t know what we thought was going to happen. He has been doing it not only to us, but also to everybody around the league.”
Indeed, this is Steph’s Show and it plays throughout the NBA. Some nights, the show is good. Some nights, it’s better. Other nights, it’s unforgettable. And, occasionally, it’s mind-blowing.
Curry clowns opponents and takes heat-check 3s and dances amid the action and if there is no retaliation it may be because his opponents are as dazed as they are charmed by his act. As Steph himself might say: REE-spect.
“Steph has unlimited confidence,” coach Steve Kerr explains. “He’s not afraid to fail.
“I just think that he’s doing things nobody’s ever done before,” the coach adds. “And he’s so comfortable in his own skin. He really does play with so much joy, so he’s having fun. Night in and night out, he’s having fun and nothing’s bothering him. It helps that he’s so grounded and he’s got a great family.
“He’s just a normal human being, a superstar who doesn’t act like a superstar.”
That is, if anything, the greatest secret to Curry’s soaring popularity. He’s approachable, whether you’re a cabbie seeking an autograph or a sick kid seeking a friend or a NBA legend who wants to critique his game or an opponent who wants to discuss Christianity within the Hip-Hop world.
“He’s a superstar,” Speights says. “He’s the MVP of this league. And he’s done a lot of great thing for a lot of people (unpublicized) and a lot of kids look up to him. He’s a superstar who is a humble guy, and that’s what makes him an even better player.”
Yet Curry’s on-court arrogance is undeniable; he’ll destroy you with extreme prejudice and without remorse. Ask Chris Paul. Ask Matthew Dellavedova.
The arrogance rarely is visual, but it’s always there. An aura.
So, yes, Curry now owns the record for most consecutive games with a 3-pointer: 128. He is, with 25 games remaining, 11 3-pointers away from breaking his record for most in a season. Seven times in league history a player has scored 50 points while making at least 10 treys, and four of those occasions it was Curry.
Define him by the extraordinary numbers, if you must. Celebrate the records already achieved as well as those to come. He has a championship ring, with more likely to come.
But if you devote too much time to Curry’s conventional accomplishments, you might miss The Show.