After Golden State’s latest championship win, coach Steve Kerr spelled out just how important Stephen Curry has been to the Warriors’ NBA dynasty.
The American point guard was already assured of being a future Hall of Famer, but this year’s NBA Finals have seen him go to another level.
When Curry helped the Warriors beat the Boston Celtics on Thursday, he didn’t just secure a fourth NBA title in eight years for both himself and his team, he also scored 34 points to ensure that he was named the Finals’ most valuable player for the first time in his glittering career.
Kerr called it the 34-year-old’s “crowning achievement” while Andre Iguodala said his team-mate had “solidified himself as the greatest point guard of all time”.
And it all comes just two years after many had written off both Curry and the San Francisco franchise.
Golden State reached the NBA Finals five years running from 2015, beating the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
But Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL in the 2019 series, two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant left that summer and then, in October, Curry broke a bone in his left hand which required surgery.
With Thompson and Curry out during 2019-20, the Warriors finished with a record of 15-50, the worst in the league, as they rebuilt their squad.
After missing the play-offs again in 2020-21, a fit-again Curry warned “you don’t want to see us next year” and as the final buzzer sounded in Thursday’s title-clinching win, Curry cried as he embraced his father, former NBA player Dell.
“This championship hits different,” said Curry junior. “It was overwhelming, surreal, because you know how much you went through to get back to this stage.
“From injuries to a changing of the guard and the roster, young guys coming through, we carried the belief that we could get back and win, even if it didn’t make sense to anybody when we said it.
“When we started this season we had a lot of conversations about who we were as a team and what we’re capable of. You carry all of that on a daily basis to try to realise a dream and we did it.”
Curry had already twice been named the NBA’s regular season MVP – in 2015 and 2016 – but this season he became the league’s all-time leader for three-pointers scored.
A two-time scoring leader, he became an NBA All-Star for the eighth time this season and was named the All-Star game’s MVP for the first time after scoring a game-high 50 points as Team LeBron beat Team Durant.
With his former team-mate Durant now at the Brooklyn Nets, Curry led the new-look Warriors through the play-offs, winning the Western Conference finals MVP award as they beat the Dallas Mavericks to become the first team since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the 1990s to reach the Finals six times in eight years.
Then came the Finals and after averaging 31.2 points across the six games Curry was named the series MVP.
“Some bozos saying he needed that,” Thompson said. “He’s pretty much established what he can do, but to see him earn that, he’s one of the greatest ever and we all follow his lead. He was incredible, what a series.”