Entertained to extremes by the world’s most blessed athletes, during both their successes and failures, and all the drama and debate that surrounds what they do or what we think they should do, often triggering spirited discussion as to “greatest ever” this and “best ever” that.
At this point, though, does it even matter anymore when it comes to Stephen Curry?
Seriously, when someone is able to elevate their game to the level the Golden State Warriors point guard can, and for such extended periods of time, it seems no point to compare and contrast his performance with anyone else’s. Just sitting back and taking it all in would be much more enjoyable.
Was Monday night’s 17-point explosion in overtime tops in NBA history? Sure, it set a playoff record, but was it better than LeBron James’ 25 straight tour de force against Detroit nine years ago?
To me, it doesn’t matter.
What did was having the impulse to check out what was going on between the Warriors and the Trailblazers in their late-night Western Conference semifinals Game 4 affair at Portland, and the good luck to catch Curry in action at crunch time.
In a show that surpassed, easily, what you’d hope from the NBA’s first-ever unanimous MVP, an honor he accepted the morning after guiding Golden State to a 3-1 series lead, Curry solidified – for me – all positives ever stated about him and answered any questions about him.
Rusty after a tweaked right knee had him missing close to two weeks of postseason action, the 6-foot-3 sharpshooter came off the bench and hardly factored, in a positive way, the first three quarters Monday night. Yeah, he had 13 points and a handful of assists and rebounds. But he wasn’t effective, as evidenced by a FG percentage that seemed more in line with DeAndre Jordan’s talents at the foul line.
With Shawn Livingstone ejected earlier, though, Curry had to continue playing – far more than the 25-minute max head coach Steve Kerr had assigned to him – and, at a time, when any normal human being, or even a heavily trained pro athlete, previously hobbled by injury would have slowed down, the rust began to wear off.
A 10-point fourth quarter, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers and an assist to set up Harrison Barnes’ OT-forcing trey in the final 4:35 of regulation, only set the stage for pure magic in the extra fame – when Curry tallied his team’s first 12 points and 17 of 21 overall.
Thing is, Portland refusing to fold made it all the more special. The Blazers, behind Damian Lilliard and C.J. McCollum, hung in there, trading body shots with Curry even as he went off. But then he delivered a haymaker with a step-back 3-pointer at the 1:51 mark to stagger the hosts and the KO trifecta from even further 46 seconds later.
His final stat line: 40 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. He made all eight shots he took in OT (after a pretty abysmal regulation in which he shot 10-for-26, including 2 of 13 on 3s): three from 2-point land, three from beyond the arc and two from the charity stripe.
Still, better than LeBron, whose outburst finished off a 48-point effort with Cleveland in a Game 5 win during the 2007 Eastern Conference finals?
Hey, they’re different players with different bodies and different skill sets. When LBJ lit up the Pistons, he did so with an assortment of powerful, willful moves and shots that tested most degrees of difficulty maximums. Curry, being his ever loose and elusive self, bee-bopped around, juking and jiving his way to open spots and buried shots that, for him, a guy with limitless range, were easy.
Am disappointed to have missed James’ playoff brilliance close to a decade ago, but grateful to have watched Curry’s against Portland this time around – even well after midnight.
It was a fortunate happenstance, and entertainment for a sports fan as good as it gets.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry registered his fourth career 40-point game in NBA playoff action on Monday night. The following is a list of those who have had more: