Steph Curry plays with a lot of emotion, but it is extremely rare to see him cry on the court.
That’s what happened in the final moments of Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals in Boston. The Golden State Warriors were seconds away from winning their fourth NBA championship in eight seasons and Curry let it all out. Tears came down his face after hugging his dad Dell Curry, who was standing under the basket getting ready to celebrate with his son. Steph was so overcome with emotion that he fell to the floor with still 2.7 seconds left on the game clock.
Former NBA player and current TV analyst Grant Hill asked Curry about his moment vulnerability and in classic Curry fashion, he gave a very candid and thoughtful response.
“Any time you’re trying to sustain anything at this level, there’s just so much emotional baggage and the physical nature of what we do. It’s hard,” said Curry, who took home the Bill Russell award as the MVP of the 2022 NBA Finals after leading the Golden State Warriors to a hard-fought victory over the Boston Celtics in a grueling six-game series.
Curry was a unanimous choice as MVP of The Finals after averaging 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series. And he did most of his damage while being guarded by the reigning defensive player of the year in Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
The 34-year-old sharpshooter finished with 34 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in the clincher, giving him 30 or more in three straight games at Boston’s TD Garden. The signature moment came in Game 4 when Curry dropped 43 points and hit seven 3-pointers in a 107-97 win that tied the series at 2. Boston didn’t win another game in the series after that Curry flurry.
“To go to five straight Finals — like I said after going through these last two years — and try to maintain that belief and carry that every single day,” Curry said. “Every time we come into the gym and practice. Every time you come into game. Every time you step into a locker room. You understand that leadership. You have to carry that. Whether guys believe it or not, or you’re gonna end up in the finish line or not, I let all that out at the end of the game. This one definitely feels different.”
This Warriors’ championship run was certainly different. It was sweeter. It always feels sweet to prove people wrong. The Dubs were left for dead after missing the playoffs the last two seasons. They heard all the negative chatter. The dynasty was done. Klay Thompson may never be the same after ACL and Achilles surgeries. They can’t win a title without Kevin Durant. Draymond Green is getting old.
But the Warriors found a way to build it back up, and now they’re back at the top of the NBA mountain.
“What we’ve been through over these last two years have been a lot,” Curry said. “To be able to just let all that out, especially in this building [TD Garden Arena in Boston], it’s a historic building. I was just thinking about all that.”
He added, “Just proud of everybody that played a part in making this a reality.”
Seth Curry, Steph’s younger brother, celebrated with him on the court. Steph said his brother asked this rhetorical question: “What are they gonna say now?”
What are the talking heads and critics going to say? Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. As Warriors defensive stalwart Draymond Green put it, Curry left no doubt that he’s an all-time great. Steph cemented his place on basketball’s King’s Landing after winning a fourth title and a Finals MVP.
“Without [Steph], none of this happens,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry. “That’s not taking anything away from Joe [Lacob] and Peter’s [Gruber] ownership. They built an incredible organization. Bob Myers is a helluva GM. We’ve had so many great players. But Steph ultimately is why this run has happened.”
Kerr was asked if this was the least talented Warriors squad to win a title. Kerr wasn’t in full agreement with that assessment, saying the 2022 Warriors may not have the same offensive firepower as the previous Golden State champs but they’re just as talented especially defensively.
“We had Kevin Durant for three years with this core group. We’re untouchable,” Kerr said. “This [2022 team] has been compared to our first championship team in 2015. Maybe there are some similarities. But this is still a talented group of players.”
He continued: “Our defense was spectacular in this series, especially the last three games. The Celtics had the best defense in the league but we were right behind them. What made this group really special besides the obvious with Steph was the defensive intensity and versatility.”
It’s laughable to think that there are still people, including basketball pundits, who question Curry’s place among the game’s all-time greats. Draymond calls those questioning Curry’s legacy as “garbage.”
“He’s still Steph Curry. He’s still an all-time great. To add [a Finals MVP] to your resume, as a competitor, you want that. For him, well deserved. It’s been a long time in the making. He left no doubt.”