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MVP Stephen Curry finally getting respect on the court

| 13.11.2015

Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | November 12, 2015

It looked as though the spectacular start to reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry’s season was coming to an end.

Curry had scored just six in the first quarter of Golden State Warriors’ early season matchup with Memphis Grizzlies, cooling down considerably from his stunning 53-point performance in a decisive victory over New Orleans two nights earlier, while spotting the Grizzlies an early 22-21 lead.

That would prove to be the calm before the storm, as the 27 year-old exploded with 21 points in the third quarter, leading the Warriors to a lopsided 119-69 victory, handing Memphis the worst defeat in the franchise’s two-decade history.

Golden State on hot streak

It is scene that has repeated itself night after night as the Warriors kick off their campaign with their hottest start in 55 years.

The Dubs have dominated in eight straight victories, with Curry emerging as the top point-getter in seven of those contests, moving atop the NBA statistics with 32.4 points per game.

It is not usual for a team to suffer a letdown in the early going of a young season following a championship victory. It took 103 regular season and playoff games for GSW to earn their first NBA championship crown in 40 years, and few observers would have expressed surprise at a slow start by Curry and his teammates.

Curry and Warriors went under radar

Instead, the Warriors have left both fans and foes wide-eyed following their fast start, picking up where they left off last season when they won a franchise record 67 regular season games.

Little was expected of the Warriors entering last the 2014-2015 NBA campaign. The club was coming off a respectable 51-win season, finishing sixth in the Western Conference before getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by arch-rivals Los Angeles Clippers.

Curry had shown steady improvement in his sixth NBA season, averaging 23.8 points per game and over three three-pointers per game for a third straight year, but with the Dubs pegged as a middling 20/1 bet to win the title, no one was prepared for what they were about to see.

Running in the family

Despite being the son of former NBA great Dell Curry, Stephen was always underestimated, by both coaches and opponents.

During his father’s time playing with Toronto Raptors, Curry junior was enrolled at a small Christian school with a student population of about 200. “We were not a basketball school,” said former teammate Casey Field in an interview with the Toronto Star.

But all that changed with the arrival of this scrawny kid, who barely stood five feet, five inches tall.

Precocious youth

Regularly scoring 40 to 50 points a night, a spectacular feat for any young player, Curry led his tiny school squad to an unforgettable, undefeated season, before moving on to attend high school in North Carolina.

The youngster continued to dominate the high school ranks in the US, but received no respect as a college prospect, failing to crack the Rivals Top 150 prospects in his senior year.

His father’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, showed interest in the skinny teenager, but told him he would be red-shirted in his freshman year because they believed he was not ready.

Once a Wildcat

Curry took a pass on the Hokies’ offer, opting instead to join the Davidson Wildcats, where he would once again exceed expectations, and have an immediate and dramatic impact, shattering the NCAA freshman record with 113 three-pointers, while trailing only Kevin Durant in points scored by a first-year player.

But, despite his early success, Curry fell short of his goal of getting the Wildcats into March Madness.

All that changed a year later, with Curry leading Davidson on a thrilling and emotional run to the Elite Eight of the March Madness tourney, losing a heartbreaking 59-57 battle to eventual champions Kansas Jayhawks, while setting the NCAA record with 159 three-pointers.

Record breaker

Curry would rekindle that magic in the Warriors’ run to an NBA championship in 2015. Exploding out of the gate with 21 victories in their first 23 games, it quickly became apparent that Golden State had elevated their game to another level.

But despite the team’s winning ways, and Curry’s domination from beyond the line, it was not until February of last season that the team would finally emerge as the betting favourite to win the NBA Championship.

After setting a new NBA record with his 273rd three-pointer in the final days of the regular season, Curry scored 32 or more points in nine games during the postseason, while taking just 13 games to demolish Reggie Miller’s previous record of 58 postseason three-pointers, finishing the playoffs with a whopping 95.

Can Curry take on LeBron?

His performance removed any doubt as to his claim to last season’s MVP award, but after seven NBA campaign, in which he has been named an all-star twice, that scrawny kid, who now stands 6ft 3in tall, is still searching for respect.

Curry opened this season once again trailing the favourites in NBA MVP betting, pegged at 6/1, well behind the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Durant, who enters the final year of his contract with Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Warriors also faced pre-season scepticism with the bookies, opening behind the Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs in NBA futures betting.

But with little indication of a slowdown any time soon, it is clear that Curry and Warriors don’t need to be given respect, they take on the hardwood.


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Daniel Coyle