The unassuming, babyface profile of Stephen Curry was one of the marketable features during his time at Davidson University where he took the college basketball world by storm. Many people thought that his game as a “gunner” may be fun to watch in the NBA, but it could not possibly make him an elite player.
Fast forward to this year’s postseason playoff run.
Curry captivated basketball fans everywhere with his unbelievable shooting display against the Denver Nuggets. Media and analysts everywhere finally acknowledged what Bay Area viewers had already known–Stephen Curry is a star. Head coach Mark Jackson reiterated the Bay’s position, “those guys are just coming to the hospital, that baby has already been born.”
This begs the question: what took so long for the mainstream media to catch onto a guy who’s shooting stats are unmatched in many categories, a good person on and off the floor and a leader of a young, up and coming team?
First, his injuries took him completely off the radar to the point where many people discounted him completely. For instance, the Warriors may still be playing right now if he had not rolled his ankle in the playoffs. Missing about 60 percent of the lockout shortened season as well as being plagued by the injuries in the prior year hampered his game a bit, making a liability at times.
Many analysts and media members even question the Warriors for giving him any sort of extension in the offseason due to the chronic injuries. As a result, his numbers remained relatively pedestrian, even on his own team compared to other players (remember Monta Ellis’ “awesome” numbers?). Either way, Golden State is set with their point guard, as he appears to have somewhat turned the corner with the ankles. He played 78 games this year, missing those four due to sprains, but that is considered normal by NBA standards.
Location of the team plays into being overlooked as well. There are many more teams east of the Mississippi River that can be covered during normal hours of a day. Even further, there are only seven teams west of San Antonio (map), or only 23 percent, and the only major market is Los Angeles which has plenty of storylines within itself to take over all air time for the seven teams (right Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin?).
Take a gander at the bottom line on ESPN during the regular season. The Warriors game time is 10:30 PM Eastern Time, which means it would likely end on the other half of midnight. Many media members and fans take a look at who is playing, have limited knowledge of the current status of the team and simply ignore the game and read box scores.
It is quite possible that some pundits only see Curry play twice a year, during both games against the team they cover. The “East Coast Bias” is alive and well–do not let anyone tell you any different. The snub of the All-Star Game and All-NBA in favor of David Lee is proof of the box score mentality for media who vote on the awards.
Technology has helped somewhat, allowing recording of multiple games at a time, but still–unless you are paid to analyze tape, spending hours of going back and watching every game. So, unless the game is nationally televised during a prime time for eastern viewers (this allows for the maximum amount of eyes to watch the game based on time), the sound of Curry jumpers going through the net is being outright ignored by a large majority of nation.
Lastly, Curry’s game is not overly flashy. Until this year, you would not find many of his plays on the highlight real on ESPN or NBA TV’s top ten. That seems to be the way to gain notoriety in the league–do stuff so we can show it. Blake Griffin has all the commercials because he dunks and dunks and dunks, which is fan-friendly. However, put him in a basketball situation, and you get a completely different result–see here.
Shooting jumpers is not an AND1 mixtape watcher’s dream. They like the fancy dribbling leading to alley oop dunks with some humiliation sprinkled in. But, string a bunch of them together and it is magical. Curry’s playoff shooting magic, as well as his 54-point explosion in New York on national TV, made shooting sexy again, but it was also a product of good timing (primetime games, playoffs, nationally televised) where he got the maximum eyes watching his unbelievable performances.
Curry’s dilemma of being overlooked is reminiscent of another Warrior who had a similar issue. Chris Mullin was not overly talked about as a dominant player during his days despite his gaudy scoring and shooting statistics. It was not until his fifth year in a playoff game against the Lakers that people began to take notice. (Listen to the crowd buzz as he hits every jumper)
The following year he was a part of the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics and went on to have Hall of Fame career. The path is eerily similar to Curry’s.