Nothing went right for Stephen Curry after April 15, really. Curry sustained an ankle injury against the Rockets after landing awkwardly defending James Harden and things were never the same. He returned in Game 4 of that series only to suffer a sprained knee.
From there, the debate began.
“Why is Curry struggling? He never struggles.”
“He must be hurt. ”
“But he wasn’t hurt versus Portland when he scored 40, and he still has moments?”
“You can clearly see he doesn’t have the same separation. He has to get that six inches of space to be the great player he is.”
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“Shouldn’t a great player adjust? And don’t all NBA players say ‘This is the playoffs, everyone’s hurt?'”
On and on. The truth is that it was everything. Curry was hurt throughout the playoffs, never himself. He was also rattled by the physicality teams played him with, and when he wasn’t hitting shots, made no impact on the game. His defense was questionable, his passing was disgustingly sloppy and the first unanimous MVP in NBA history finished 1 for 6 with three points in the fourth quarter of a Game 7 at home, and largely as a result, the Warriors lost 93-89 to the Cavs to become the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
One thing, though. Steph Curry? Never made excuses. He always said he was fine. That’s what great players do. If they’re on the floor, they own it. If they can play, they’ll stand by their performance.
After the Warriors’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, Curry made no excuses. He did not take the easy way and say that he clearly wasn’t himself, or say that if he was healthy, everything would have been different. He owned it.
“There isn’t any surgery or anything in my future this summer. I need to get healthier, but there is no excuses for what happened on the floor,” Curry said. “I was out there, ready to play. I had some good games, I had some bad games. And that’s it. I’ll come back stronger next season and be ready to go.”
He was pressed again by a media clearly ready to provide him that route out of the criticism, and understandably so. Curry once again deflected.
“I’m fine. I mean, I have three months to obviously get ready for next season,” he said. “I won’t get injured celebrating tonight, I can tell you that much.”
Whatever pain Curry was in during the playoffs, it pales compared to the pain of watching his amazing 73-win season in which he made 402 3-pointers become moot in the shadow of LeBron James’ greatness. He’s not healthy. He was hurting. He wasn’t able to be the player who set the world on fire, and in the end he wasn’t able to overcome whatever he was facing to win a second title.
Instead, he’ll spend the summer getting healthy and then trying to improve. That’s what the great ones do. You can bet you haven’t seen the last of Stephen Wardell Curry.