Rewriting history: Unanimous MVP Steph Curry loves the moment

Rewriting history: Unanimous MVP Steph Curry loves the moment

Overview

 

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Ethan Sherwood Strauss

ESPN Staff Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. — It was déjà vu Tuesday in Oakland when Stephen Curry collected his second straight MVP award. But while this year’s scene was reminiscent of last year’s, it was not exactly the same.

The venue had changed from a spartan Oakland Marriott conference room to the vastness of Oracle Arena. In the time between Curry’s awards, life around the Warriors changed. Curry & Co. validated themselves with a championship and subsequent 73-win season, a combination that’s acted as a force multiplier for the Warriors’ burgeoning fame. Their rise, once regarded with suspicion, is now accepted in sports and popular culture.

In the preseason, NBA general managers voted Curry fifth-likeliest to win the 2016 MVP award. Now, Curry reigns as the NBA’s first unanimous MVP.

It all changed within a year and, when Curry fell in Houston two weeks ago, it almost all changed again in a moment. To the Warriors, the MVP presentation was just another development that throws their progress into stark relief. Curry’s play is special to the point of being historic. And it must be appreciated because it won’t last forever, though it might be remembered for nearly that long.

On whether his fall in Houston altered his perspective on Tuesday’s honor, Curry said, “Not the award, but it makes me appreciate the game, because when I fell it could have been significantly worse. I feel blessed to have gotten the news I did after my MRI and being able to be back on the court as of [Monday].

“So every single game I try not to take for granted because you never know what could happen. A wet spot on the floor kind of put a scare in myself, so you never know inside those lines what might happen. So you try to just stay in the moment, enjoy the opportunity that you have right in front of you, and you can live with that.”

The NBA is a very aspirational place, where striving tends to take precedence over the appreciation of accomplishments. The Warriors have accomplished so much, so quickly that they’re trying to marry satisfaction with ambition. Warriors GM Bob Myers recognized that point at Tuesday’s news conference, saying: “We should all appreciate this. Appreciate this time, appreciate this moment, because life is happening fast.”

Regarding his own fears when Curry fell, Myers said, “My initial thought when he couldn’t play was, ‘That’s it.’ And that’s how quickly it changes. That’s how quickly sports can turn.”

When asked later to elaborate on those thoughts, Myers, whose family was struck by tragedy this offseason, said, “There’s a fragility to life that I wasn’t even aware of till the past year. Where you think you have an idea of how things are going or you think you have an idea of how your life will go, and there’ll be areas in the edges that won’t go like you think. But when you have something that you experience that’s way out of bounds to what you think is possible, it’ll change the way you view things.”

Myers continued, “It’ll make you look around on a good day. For me, it’s like a good chocolate chip cookie. Things that you appreciate because, why not? Because you just don’t know.” Later, Myers spoke of how, in a business where games tend to blur together, he will remember Curry’s Game 4 overtime performance for the rest of his life.

For the Warriors, this season has been too good to be true, yet it has also been shaped by events that caused varying degrees of pain, dismay and shock. Myers worked through the aforementioned family tragedy. Coach Steve Kerr battled back from constant headaches that resulted from a spinal fluid leak. Curry saw his season momentarily threatened.

Two weeks later, he submitted an incredible overtime performance that announced his return while adding to his legend. While defeating the Blazers, Curry hit an overtime 3-pointer, turned and pointed at his wrist to indicate that it was no longer “Lillard time.” He hit another, made in full view of Portland superfan “Free Throw Guy,” whose shirt bore a photo of the knee injury that threatened to end Curry’s season. Curry uncorked a mini shimmy, sneered, pointed and yelled at the crowd, “I’m back!”

Two weeks ago, Curry’s fall gave the rest of the NBA an opportunity, an opening, a sliver of hope after a season spent in the Warriors’ shadow. There were widespread fears that Curry’s knee injury might end his season. Now he’s back, ready to end everyone else’s.

We don’t know how long it will last, but we do know his time is now. When we watch him, we’re watching sports history in real time. Right now, this is Steph Curry’s league, and he’s intent on enjoying every minute of his reign.