Isn’t it amazing how much a year can make a difference? Or in the case of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, how two years can make a difference.
On statistical merit alone an argument could be made Curry was legitimately the best player for two years straight. As if his first MVP campaign wasn’t enough, Curry followed it up by averaging thirty points, which was seven more than the previous season and led the Golden State Warriors to break the Chicago Bulls record for most regular season wins ever. (73)
You couldn’t turn on a sports network and not see footage of Curry. He was a human highlight reel; dazzling us night in and night out with his finesse, his crossovers and of course his spectacular three-point shooting.
All of America was enamored with the baby face assassin, Ayesha Curry and Riley Curry. Everything seemed to be so perfect. Perfect team, perfect wife, perfect family.
But that was then, this is now.
As great and historic as Curry and the Warriors were they only managed to secure one NBA title, ultimately falling short the second go-round against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.
Two relative pedestrian performances by Curry’s standards in back-to-back NBA Finals coupled with slight slippage in his numbers this season and Kevin Durant’s arrival have left many wondering what happen to the Curry of old?
Where did he go?
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The biggest splash in the offseason was made by the team with the ordained Splash brothers. Heading into the 2016-2017 NBA season all anyone could talk about was Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder and his arrival in the Bay area with the already dominant Golden State Warriors.
Many felt that the addition of Durant to a team that had set the record for most regular season wins (73) and went to two consecutive Finals would spell doom for the league.
We were right.
The Warriors were and are the best team in all of basketball, as evidenced by the 207 wins they’ve seemingly coasted to over the last three seasons. People’s biggest fear in sports is dynasties and domination.
The Warriors are in firm position to accomplish both over the next five years.
Many had the Warriors and Cavaliers squaring off in a trilogy this summer in the NBA Finals, with the Warriors as the presumptive favorite to win it all.
So with the NBA regular season essentially a wash and the NBA Finals matchup a foregone conclusion, what did that leave us with over the course of a six month, 82-game schedule?
It left us with manufactured crises and reality television.
To rest or not rest is the question plaguing the NBA. The NBA saw a rise in superstars “resting” more than in previous years. James, Curry, Irving and other big name superstars have received scrutiny for their perceived reluctance to play all 82 games.
Speaking of superstars we saw the emergence of LaVar Ball who might be milking his 15 minutes of fame better than anyone has in recent memory. The loquacious, sometimes abrasive father of former UCLA player, Lonzo Ball, was no stranger to controversy.
His claim that he could beat Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley one-on-one, in addition to the lucrative shoe deal he wants for his sons, and his belief that his son Lonzo would be better than Steph Curry certainly gave us a lot to laugh about.
Thanks LaVar for providing us with entertainment and drama in an otherwise dull NBA season.
If that wasn’t enough we could always turn our attention to the wonderful set of Inside the NBA featuring larger than life personalities Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’ Neal.
If it wasn’t Barkley vs. James, then it was Barkley vs. LaVar Ball. If it wasn’t Barkley vs. Ball then it was O’ Neal vs. JaVale McGee. If it wasn’t O’ Neal vs. McGee then it was O’ Neal vs. Durant.
From Westbrook to Harden to Kawhi Leonard, this season has provided its fair share of memorable moments as the MVP race was tight neck and neck for most of the season.
But the regular season is over. Now the real season begins. The playoffs. And although Curry has taken a back burner to James, Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Harden, and even Durant, something tells me by the end of this postseason the Curry we grew to love over the last two years will return.
Don’t believe me?
Warriors over Cavs in six.
Marcus Lamar is a Washington D.C.-based sports journalist. You can check out his podcast “Marc My Words” on Soundcloud, YouTube and coming to iTunes soon. Follow him on Twitter @iam_marcuslamar.