What many considered a foregone conclusion, thanks to perhaps the greatest season in modern-day NBA history by Steph Curry, may serve as additional motivational fuel for LeBron James.
In what was basically a season-long coronation by the media all year long, Steph Curry has basically made the NBA his proverbial oyster in making 35-foot rainbows with ease and dazzling fans with his dribbling skills en route to joining NBA immortality in doing something that all-time greats such as Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Jerry West or even Oscar Robertson never did in their illustrious and storied careers in being named the league’s first-ever unanimous Most Valuable Player.
Some could argue that the MVP vote is nothing more but a glorified popularity contest, or as former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady stated that it has become “watered down”, and that the league itself has become too soft. While all of these claims have some validity as the NBA has slowly evolved from a four-year college league into a glorified AAU/playground-type of pickup game, due to the gradual breakdown of basic fundamentals from incoming rookies, it is not fair to hate a player of Curry’s greatness—and he is now worthy of being mentioned amongst them—but the NBA just gave the ever-gritty Cleveland Cavaliers and LBJ the greatest gift this post-season.
Call it a case of Warrior Fatigue Syndrome, but unless you live in the greater East Bay area, NBA fans by and large, respect what the 73-win Warriors have done, but thanks to the constant 24-7 shoving of Dubs highlights on infamous cheerleading networks such as ESPN—whom I now refer to as the Steph Curry Channel—and the so-called bandwagon “fans” of Curry, who probably didn’t even like him before last season, it is easy to despise the pretty jump-shooting boys from the West Coast.
You know these “fans” by some of the clueless comments such as,
“Curry is better than MJ/Magic, etc.”
“Curry is better than LeBron”
“The Warriors would beat the 1996 Bulls in a seven-game series”
Such comments above smack of both cultural and basketball naivete, and only further the conventional malaise of the social-media Millennial hoops fan, who wasn’t born—or is completely unfamiliar of the exploits of MJ, Magic, leading to the proverbial facepalm.
One other popular target of the Curry fan club is none other than LBJ.
For those who know the modern-day game, LeBron has helped the NBA transcend into the global, multi-billion-dollar entity it is today thanks to being a two-time NBA champion, four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP. It is because of him that the NBA has been able to sell the game in China, why athletes are more marketable in Hollywood (Trainwreck, Space Jam 2), and why high-school players are seen as the next potential superstar.
In both my observation and opinion, “fans” of Curry are only fans because of their hatred for LeBron, and aren’t really true basketball fans, but are instead just going along with the hottest new trend, which is watching Curry become the Pablo Picasso of Three.
Again, that is great an all, but it is also taking away from the true physical and primal essence of going hard through the lane or making a contested shot in traffic. Hoisted up three pointers is akin to hitting a home run during MLB’s infamous Steroid Era.
It’s a pretty box-score stuffing stat. But at the end of the day, it’s a team game of execution.
The 73-win Warriors record with Curry out of the lineup, were still a formidable and multi-faceted juggernaut, while the James Gang looked like a bunch of misfits without their King.
Again, no disrespect to Curry and his Hall-of-Fame worthy accomplishment, but while the Warriors have a chip on their shoulder for feeling slighted by naysayers proverbially nitpicking their title because they were healthy.
So does LBJ, who without two of his running mates in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, took Curry and crew to six games with a bunch of benchwarmers.
That alone is MVP worthy praise. Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP over Lebron last spring is one of the cruelest jokes in modern-day championship history.
How much you wanna bet that LBJ is quietly chomping at the bit to prove the critics wrong in their propping up of Curry, the Warriors and their bashing of him? Make no mistake, if there is one team that is dangerous is one with a superstar of James’ magnitude on a personal quest to reclaim the throne that Curry has usurped from him in being the NBA’s top player.
It takes a special kind of player to sweep all 131 first-place votes, in such a manner that Curry did, but in doing so, it may have also unleashed the wrath of a fallen king in James instead. If you are James, how much you want to wager that he has already put the final NBA MVP ballot up in his locker as motivation?
Which is why Steph vs. LeBron, Cavs vs Warriors: Part II in the 2016 NBA Finals, can’t come soon enough.