I have to admit something. I may not like Steph Curry's game, but I now admire him more than any other basketball player who has ever played in the NBA. He's not my favorite player (that still goes to Lebron James - current/Kobe Bryant - past), but man do I respect Mr. Wardell Stephen Curry II. He's officially out Tim Duncaned Tim Duncan.
Quick question: if you take away Curry's significant three-point prowess, amazing hand-eye coordination, and inside/outside game mastery, what are you left with? Only a two-time NBA champion and back-to-back MVP. The reason why? Steph Curry has mastered the winning-est behavior of all - selflessness.
Basketball is a beautiful game especially when played at the highest levels because of the unified speed, agility, motion, and collective sacrificing of the greatest teams. I've long loved Lebron's game because he's always been a pass-first superstar who was aware of his own limitations (unlike Kobe) and worked to put himself into the most favorable positions to win. But Lebron's never sacrificed what Steph Curry had to in order to bring home the 'ship.
Steph Curry doesn't care how he wins as long as he does.
We've never experienced a superstar like Steph Curry. No star in any era has ever gone from perpetually written-off from high school through his first three seasons of the NBA to undersized supernova the next (Isaiah Thomas may become the sequel). How does this dizzying success not explode his ego? The only way is that the slightly awkward, humble, mumbly guy we see in interviews is the REAL DEAL.
From every account I can find, he was never seeking super-stardom. Instead, his journey to become the best Steph Curry he can be has led to a consequence of fame. Humbled by dropping a 3-1 lead in the 2016 finals, what does he agree to do? Bring in Kevin Durant - one of the top 3 players in the world.
A lot of ink has been dedicated to Steph's role in recruiting KD to Golden State, but what's missed in almost every article I've read is that this was not a difficult decision or transition for Steph. That's because selflessness is like breathing to him. You hear it in the way he talks about his team (none of the standard alpha male athlete comments like this is my team, I'm the leader, I make things go, etc). You see it in the way he has deferred the spotlight during the 2017 NBA Finals in order to right the wrongs of last season's championship series. You sense it in the utter lack of drama during a 67 win season that resulted in a return to the top of the mountain.
Selflessness is defined as concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own. In Steph Curry's case I redefine this to mean - concern more with the needs of the team than one's own personal stats, fame, and/or endorsements. If you are familiar with Bruce Tuckman's well known model for group development (forming, storming, norming, performing); performing is defined by hard work leading to, without friction, the achievement of the team's goal. Watching Steph and KD celebrate their much-deserved victory, I experienced a textbook definition of team performance all enabled by a superstar with only one thing in his mind - getting the job done.
So, from one leader to another, I salute you Mr. Curry and the 2016-17 World Champion Golden State Warriors!