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2016 NBA Finals: The Collapse Of Stephen Curry

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How do you cap off a two-year run of back-to-back MVP seasons, 700+ three-pointers, two straight NBA Finals appearances and 150+ wins?

Easy, you choke.

The debate for the last two years was has Stephen Curry leapfrogged LeBron James as the best player in the NBA? Last season he proved that he should be mentioned in the same sentence, I for one was never sold on his sudden rise to fame.

He is a tremendous player, without a doubt but being clutch in the regular season or against the likes of Patrick Beverley is not the same as stepping up when it matters most.

The 2016 Finals was to be his REAL coronation but he forgot to show up and James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are now the NBA champs. But what happened?

Too many things went wrong but the one issue I saw was– WE went wrong. Us as fans, the media, teammates and the entire NBA are to blame for the disappearance of Curry. This season he was hailed as the best shooter to EVER play in the NBA, one of the best closers, the most complete PG but the one person that should have pulled in the reigns was Steve Kerr.

It’s obvious Curry was struggling, the Cavs were doubling him off the ball forcing him to make PG decisions but remember we have dubbed him a shooter first so when that extra man came over he looked out-of-place.

Instead of making the easy pass he went for the flash, the ohhh’s and ahhh’s of the crowd, the praise of the commentators when all he had to do was play the game. Play it the way Kyrie Irving showed him over seven games. This is what those players that were ranked on ESPN’s Top 10 PG list did better than him.

They set up their team for wins not for crowd approval.

We saw the frustration in Game 6 when he lost his cool, but his cockiness was missing until Game 7. He was brilliant in the Warriors 3-1 comeback against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder but in the biggest stage he looked more Matthew Dellavedova than the leader of a 73 win team.

There is no need to feel sorry for him, no need to hit is Twitter account with a “way to go Steph” tweet. He deserves to be attacked, ridiculed and banished from the spotlight until he learns how to become a well-rounded player. He took 124 shots in the Finals and 80 of those were from beyond the arc, 80 but that’s not his fault, it’s ours.

When a players hits 400 of those in a single season he has the green light to shoot but when it’s a Game 7 and your season is on the line but it’s clear you are struggling you MUST find another way to get the job done.

What I saw in the final 5 minutes of the game Sunday night was “hero ball” not championship play. Curry  was looking to end the game with “he is so clutch” or “this is why he is the MVP” talk made some of the dumbest plays that even Westbrook had to be laughing at home.

Pull-up 3’s with defenders in his face, time left on the clock and a wide open teammate on the wing but the world has seen him make those countless times before but this Game 7 was not pre-Finals Curry this was 2013 Curry before he rose to stardom.

All the greats had ego’s. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and countless others but they also had that coach that was not afraid to tell them to trust their cast. This was Draymond Green‘s night, he clearly had the hot hand.

Why didn’t Curry look for him like they did Curry for the past two years when he was hot? Why didn’t Klay Thompson demand the ball more in the post or off screens? They believed in Curry, he is their leader but even leaders must know when to trust others.

To be fair this is the same backlash we gave James for countless seasons. He wanted to do it all but realized he didn’t have and now has 3 rings to prove that. Curry must block out the fans and media and get back to playing fundamental basketball.

I’ve heard all season that Curry is a role model and he might be off the court, but on the court, to kids watching and looking to learn he is sending the wrong message. Kids today think the game starts and ends beyond the 3-point line. They want to emulate the Splash Brothers, not the all-around game of say a Green or James.

That reason alone is why James and the Cavs have the trophy and why Curry and the Warriors are dejected. LeBron knew how to adjust, he wanted to win while Curry wanted to put on a show.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com