How can the chase for a fourth NBA title be the most important for someone’s career? One could assume that with three championships already under the belt, the fourth might be a nice decoration, or just solidifying greatness. But for Stephen Curry, this time is a little different.
Curry was the first ever unanimous MVP of the NBA in a season as magical as any other. He is the first player to eclipse 300 three-pointers in a season (402 made). And, on the same night, carry his team to a 73rd regular season win, breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record.
The All-Star selections will come and the All-NBA considerations will be there. However, he’s still chasing that ever-elusive NBA Finals MVP.
Living as prisoners of the moment, it felt appropriate giving Andre Iguodala the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. Once he was inserted into the starting lineup, with the primary objective to defend LeBron James, the series shifted. Couple that with defense, play-making and timely three-pointers throughout the series, and behold the emergence of the ‘death lineup’. Curry went from being the most important ‘player’ on the team to being the most important ‘scorer’.
Iguodala’s impact on both ends of the floor made everyone forget about Curry’s production. In most cases, 26 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game in an NBA Finals will get you that Finals MVP. In this case, it didn’t.
Fast forward to his next two title capturing seasons, and enter Kevin Durant.
Durant, a player who many consider one of the best, if not the best player in the league, put on historic performances and iconic moments in the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals.
NEW YEAR, SAME RESULT. KEVIN DURANT IS COLD BLOODED. #NBAFinals
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 7, 2018
This allowed the narrative to continue that Curry doesn’t come up big in huge moments, despite what the numbers say. As selfless a superstar as he is, the strength of his roster often takes away from his individual brilliance. This time around, Curry may have to be a little selfish and make sure he is the reason this team wins a title.
Widely considered one of the best players of all-time, Curry has the chance to join other NBA legends and break into unofficial top 10 players of all-time lists.
Let’s take a look at some common ‘Mount-Rushmore’ and ‘Top-10’ players that are frequently mentioned (in no order):
- Michael Jordan – 6x NBA Champion, 6x Finals MVP
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 6x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP
- Wilt Chamberlain – 2x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP
- Larry Bird – 3x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP
- Kobe Bryant – 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP
- LeBron James – 3x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP
- Tim Duncan – 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP
- Shaquille O’Neal – 4x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP
- Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson – 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP
- Hakeem Olajuwon – 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP
While that list is not all-inclusive, the one consistent theme is that all those great players have a Finals MVP tacked to their name, and established themselves as the best player when their team closed the deal. Of course, there are some names left out, including the still active and current Warrior teammate Kevin Durant, who now has two NBA Championships and two Finals MVP’s to his name.
Stephen Curry has revolutionized how we perceive the three-point shot and has already impacted generations of youth to come. He is the system in Golden State, and the system exists because of him. Accolades, impact and team dominance all come into play when fans and analysts alike come up with these list of elite all-time players.
Through his 10th season, Curry is already knocking on the door of the super elite. Capturing the Finals MVP could do the trick in unlocking and opening the door so he can join the legendary and iconic company.