Despite the heartbreaking loss, Thunder fans should be grateful for what they witnessed last night. It was arguably the greatest shooting performance of all time by Steph Curry, in a season full of amazing performances. The way Curry casually pulled up from 38.5 feet to sink the game-winner in overtime was cold-blooded and the mark of a player who is supremely confident. Curry is simply one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Narrowly escaping the blemish, the Golden State Warriors leave Oklahoma City with a 53-5 record. 17 of their 24 remaining games are at Oracle Arena, where they’re undefeated this season. It’s starting to seem possible, even likely, that they will match or best the Jordan-era Bulls record of 72-10. Remember the “Witness greatness?” ads from LeBron’s first go in Cleveland? This is the real deal.
And yet the Warriors face an immense amount of criticism. Stars of the league’s past like Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have routinely criticized Curry, Kerr, and the Warriors for being ‘soft,’ ‘small,’ and a team of ‘jump shooters.’ Even the compliments they recieve are generally backhanded. What do the champs and the MVP have to do to gain some respect?
All of this is because Golden State was unwilling to wait their turn, so to speak. In the 90’s, great players like Stockton, Malone, Barkley, and Ewing never won a ring because of a man named Michael Jordan. When LeBron was a member of the Heat, this seemed to be the case again. Sorry, stars, but LeBron is just too good.
Not so anymore. Nothing about the Warriors success can be overstated. Curry has obviously been transcendent, somehow improving on an MVP season. Klay Thompson feeds off of Curry’s confidence and has an argument for being the second best shooter in the league. Draymond Green is a veritable swiss army knife and has a strong argument for Defensive Player of the Year. Steve Kerr is a masterful coach, both in the X’s and O’s and in relating to his players and developing their talents. Their role players know their roles, and carry them out efficiently and without complaint.
The Warriors refused to wait their turn in the proverbial ‘torch-passing’ basketball critics are obsessed with. They’ve done it while shooting a large volume of three-pointers, despite the analyst trope that a jump shooting team can’t win a ring. They’re confident, even cocky at times. Odds are, they’ve already beat your team this season. And odds are, it will happen again. They will always face criticism, because they’re the best. But here’s the thing: they don’t care what you, me, or any NBA great thinks. Whether you like it or not, they’ve paid their dues, and it’s their time.