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Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry And The Man Who Saved His Career

What if we told you Stephen Curry has the strongest weak ankles in NBA history?

Before he showed the world what he could do beyond the arc, Curry had to exercise some personal demons that haunted him in the first three years of his career.

From 2009 to 2011, Stephen Curry had a second surgery on his right ankle and a two-year rehab process that left him questioning his career.

Then everything changed when Bucks Nation attacked.

They were prepared to trade Andrew Bogut for Curry, but pulled out of the deal after deciding his ankle wouldn’t hold up. And the following months were tough on the Warriors. Steph needed another surgery and the Warriors were getting less intriguing trade offers for their lottery pick after he was blacklisted by the Bucks’ medical staff.

But this is where timing can be such a beautiful thing. In the face of their biggest fear – of coming to terms with a lottery bust – the Warriors saw a ray of hope they hadn’t seen since drafting Stephen Curry.

When you see hope, you chase it. The Warriors didn’t continue to dread on the injuries and pout at disrespectful offers.

An MRI revealed that Curry’s (then) latest surgery was only to remove dead tissue in the ankle. Curry called it the “least intrusive outcome,” but the Warriors thought it was a best-case scenario considering everything they went through. Recovery time was just three to four months.

Then Steph met Keke Lyles, who became the Warriors’ performance director in 2013. She brought a new idea to Golden State: transform Steph’s body from being one step away from a career-ending ankle injury, to a perfected physique with Cadillac strength and performance.

With the help of Lyles, Curry worked his ass off from top to bottom. He focused on hip training to utilize the core strength needed to give his legs (and eventually ankles) more power. He began intense lower body workouts, training each leg individually just months after his surgery. Slowly the Warriors saw Steph’s greatest weakness become his strength.

As a result, Steph grew stronger than anyone ever imagined. When he first entered the league, Curry could deadlift about 200 pounds. However, by 2015, he could do 400 pounds, more than twice his own weight. That made Steph Curry – 6’3″ 190 pounds – the 2nd strongest player on the Warriors behind only Festus Ezeli at the time.

And if you thought the physical changes Curry made gave him hope, you can already imagine what it did to his confidence.

He was unafraid to attack the basket, even knowing there are 7-foot trees waiting to knock, bump, shove, and push him out of the lane.

Athletes sprain ankles all the time but most of those injuries aren’t borderline career-ending and require just weeks of rehab and cautious play upon returning.

Stephen Curry represents an outlier. The unfortunate instance of multiple ankle sprains and surgeries actually that actually paved a revolutionary path of growing stronger than ever.

If you want to witness what those years of struggle, hard work and determination look like, just watch Curry’s feet. Watch the quick movements, the light bounces on which he floats throughout a game. Watch the changes in pace, the changes in direction, and the ability to stop his own momentum suddenly to lose a defender.

Curry was always special but had to become otherworldly. He was made out of shambly ankles and failed trades, but seven years later, Curry is one of very few players who can become a top 5 player to ever live. And no one may be able to catch him.

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His story can truly be appreciated by his circumstances. The Bucks were one of them teams who had a chance to trade for Stephen Curry, but there was probably more offers on the table.

In hindsight, all those teams missed the boat. Who knows if the sharpshooting superstar would have remained healthy with another medical staff in another city; or if anything about his career trajectory would come close to being the same. What we do know, however, is that Curry is as cool as a cucumber on the opposite side of the pillow.

Years from now, a few after the Warriors star retires from the sport, the Naismith Hall of Fame will be waiting. Barring anything crazy shenanigans at the end of his career, he’ll enter it was a lifetime member of the Golden State Warriors. Bay Area fans will take that, even if it meant swallowing a couple years of hardship in the process.