No coach in the NBA believes in the collective value of playing deep into the bench and spreading the ball around more than Steve Kerr. After guiding the Golden State Warriors to their fourth title in eight seasons, though, even the notoriously equitable Kerr couldn't help but single out Stephen Curry.
“I'm obviously thrilled for everyone in that room and a lot of people had a big hand in this, but I think the thing with Steph, without him none of this happens,” Kerr said on Thursday, following the Warriors' coronating 103-90 victory over the Boston Celtics. “And that's not taking anything away from Joe and Peters' ownership., because they're amazing owners and have built an incredible organization. Bob Myers, hell of a GM. Our players, we've had so many great players. But Steph, ultimately, is why this run has happened.”
Curry, finally, has the Finals MVP award to render that lavish praise foolproof—not that he should've needed it. His exalted place in the game's historical hierarchy, let alone Golden State's dynasty, was hardened before he dropped 34 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block to closeout the Celtics at TD Garden.
Anyone suggesting otherwise isn't engaging in good faith.
But what really puts Curry's latest achievements into proper perspective is the turmoil and tumult that preceded them. The Warriors were young up-and-comers when they won the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2015, juggernauts when they went 73-9 and championship shoo-ins when they went back-to-back with Kevin Durant. Curry won his first of consecutive MVPs at 26 and his last title at 30, still in the thick of his prime.
He's 34 now. Golden State missed the playoffs in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Curry played all but five games three years ago after breaking his foot, then battled various maladies over the last two seasons that some believed sapped him of the athletic verve needed to play at a truly elite level. He missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a badly sprained ankle.
Many other all-time greats faced similar obstacles during the second half of their careers, buckling under frustration, failure and physical wear and tear. Not Curry, and that—in addition to his all-encompassing influence on the court and in the locker room—is what makes this title extra special for him.
“I'm happy for evervbody, but I'm thrilled for Steph,” Kerr said. “For me this is his crowning achievement in what's already been an incredible career.”
And Curry isn't close to finished.