Look, I’m not here to tell you what to think or how to feel about anyone, least of all a professional athlete.
But, seriously, if you don’t like Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, you’ve either got some deep-seeded emotional issues or you’re at least 6-foot-8 with your own handy set of basketball skills.
Shoot, maybe it’s both.
See, here’s the deal: Curry, the current NBA MVP, is listed as 6-3 and 190 pounds. I’m pretty sure that’s a generous listing on each count. My guess is he’s maybe six feet tall in stocking feet and perhaps 180 pounds after Thanksgiving dinner. But regardless of the particulars, young Mr. Curry is not your typical professional basketball player.
Relatively speaking, he’s a little fella. He’s the NBA’s version of Everyman, of Joe Six Pack. To the average person, he’s relatable in a way the vast majority of NBA stars never will be.
Why sure, we can sit back and admire the other-worldly athletic skill of LeBron James. We can giggle like children when we see a man who goes 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds run the floor with the speed and precision of a guy half that size, but we do so because we can’t fathom what that’s like.
But when it comes to Steph Curry, we have a connection.
Or at least we THINK we have a connection.
The truth of it is, he’s a remarkable athlete, just like King James. He can run faster and jump higher than most of us could ever imagine. Contrary to common perception, he can dunk the basketball. More importantly, he’s already one of the NBA’s all-time great shooters, hitting at just over 47 percent for his career and 44 percent behind the 3-point line.
This past regular season he shot 48.7 percent from the field and 44.3 percent behind the arc. He also hit just over 91 percent from the free throw line.
He attempted 646 3s, making 286 of them, and averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Normally I don’t like to bore you with raw stats, but in this case I bring them up because for those of us who played ball in the driveway, gym or park growing up, we didn’t practice dunking, we practiced shooting.
As we rehearsed the play-by-play in our heads, we didn’t count down the final seconds before flying in for a 360-degree windmill dunk, we launched buzzer-beating 3s to win in overtime.
In other words, we weren’t LeBron James (or perhaps more appropriately, Karl Malone), we were Steph Curry (or John Stockton, as the case may be).
Understand, I’ve got nothing against the NBA’s big men, the hulking centers and power forwards. And my guess is you don’t either. As noted, I think most sports fans truly appreciate the behemoths for what they can do on the court.
But the little guys? Well, we ARE the little guys.
And finally, I’ve got one more thing on the MVP. I honestly don’t know whether or not he’s a “good guy.” He certainly seems like one, which is to say he isn’t controversial, hasn’t gotten himself in trouble away from the court.
Well, I suppose there was that little incident last week.
And by “incident,” I mean nothing of the sort.
Following Game 1 of the Golden State-Houston Western Conference playoff series, Curry brought his 2-year-old daughter to his post-game press conference. The adorable little girl stole the show by playfully chatting with her daddy while he addressed the assembled media.
Turns out some of my former brothers and sisters in the sports reporting biz didn’t much care for such cuteness. Afterward some scoffed, complaining the little girl somehow kept them from doing their jobs.
Take it from me, folks, they had nothing to complain about. Having been to dozens of those little playoff post-game gatherings, nothing of significance is ever uttered. They’re so useless and mundane, Curry’s little princess did them all a favor by putting on a show.
Jim Burton writes a weekly sports column for the Standard-Examiner.