All hail the return of Savage Steph Curry

The old Steph is back.0 -  All hail the return of Savage Steph Curry

Kevin Durant’s injury has allowed us to see the most exhilarating player in the sport once again.

Stephen Curry’s return to the focal point of the Warriors’ offense has been one of the best developments during the late stage of these playoffs.

The circumstances that made the return possible are unfortunate. I would never wish injury on any player, especially not Kevin Durant, whose decision to join the Warriors was an extreme but logical conclusion of a culture that believes winning a ring is the only way to justify a player’s greatness.

But Durant’s calf injury has forced the Warriors to play like they haven’t since his arrival three years ago. they have returned to an offensive system fueled by dizzying passing and movement, and Curry running the show. He is once again showcasing the most destructive, exciting, and proud version of himself.

He scored Golden State’s last 16 points in Game 5 against the Rockets. He scored 33 in the second half of Game 6. In total, he’s managed 171 points in 176 minutes without Durant. He’s not just playing better, he’s showing again why he’s the player who revolutionized the NBA.

is the ultimate “humble” superstar. Like most myths, this one has endured regardless of evidence to the contrary. He has shimmied in front of his opponents, thrown his mouth guard at a spectator, celebrated shots before they went in the basket, and a litany of other on-court actions that directly contradict the idea that he is some reserved, blue-collar player. This myth is a conflation of two things: 1) The greater narrative of the undersized and injury-plagued guard who worked his way up to greatness, and 2) Curry’s respectful attitude to the media and his image as a devoted family man and Christian.

But while Curry as a “humble superstar” is misleading at best, it’s not entirely false. Myths about players are often not outright lies, but rather an overextension of a particular quality that comes to define the complete individual.

Durant’s arrival saw Curry fortify that idea of humbleness with an on-court decision. Existing Warriors superstars needed to sacrifice their game so that Durant could be at his best, but who would step up? Klay Thompson famously said that he wasn’t sacrificing shit.

The answer was obvious: Curry would do it. He did it because he knew that sacrificing a bit of his game was worth winning more titles, and because he was the only player who could be just as deadly off the ball as he is on it. The Warriors won the title twice and reached a third Finals, Durant blended in well (mostly), and Curry stayed great.

But along the way, fans and viewers began to feel unfulfilled with Curry. At a time when he was in his physical prime, when we were supposed to be seeing him at the height of his powers, he was reducing himself. I have no problem with Curry playing a secondary role for the benefit of the team, but there’s nothing in the NBA like the experience of watching him at his best with the ball in his hands.

NBA Finals have meaning beyond the Warriors even further solidifying their dynasty. Durant is likely to leave the team after this season, and the Warriors can prove that they don’t need him to win another title. Within that, Curry has a chance to finally win Finals MVP, which has been used as a cudgel to downplay his ability on the biggest stage. This is a perfect setting for him to unleash his full powers.

If Curry’s performance against the Raptors is anything like what he’s done so far without Durant, it will show the world that no one in the league is as breathtaking when allowed to dominate the ball.

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