Stephen Curry: Humble or Arrogant?

Feb 3, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) claps while standing on the court against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Warriors won 134-121. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) claps while standing on the court against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Warriors won 134-121. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Stephen Curry is beloved by casual fans and national media however his on-court confidence is striking a nerve with fans around the league who suggest a violent reaction is necessary.

One of my favorite movies of all-time is The Dark Knight.

I absolutely love Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Aside from Batman’s cool gadgets, the late Heath Ledger’s incredible portrayal of the Joker blew me away. Early on in the film, Gotham’s “white knight” Harvey Dent tells Bruce Wayne that “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

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Well, Stephen Curry has splashed long enough to see himself become the villain.

Curry is the league’s biggest superstar. Opposing crowds have become an extension of Oracle Arena as fans donning a blue and yellow no.30 take over and take away any home court advantage other teams might have. He has millions of social media followers and his public appearances are reminiscent of “Beatle-mania.” Most fans just can’t get enough Curry.

With greatness comes intense scrutiny. With success comes resent and envy. While this “anti-Steph” community may be in the minority, their voice is loud and unnerving.

Following last night’s Warriors victory over the Atlanta Hawks there was an outpour of social media hate aimed towards Curry. Late in the fourth quarter, the reigning MVP splashes a three right in Jeff Teague‘s face from the corner. After his release, Curry turned around and shimmied in front of the Atlanta bench and went back on defense.

My Twitter timeline was flooded with fans and even media members calling Curry “obnoxious” or “arrogant.” They suggested that the level of disrespect the point guard showed Atlanta should be matched with violence and aggression.

Time for some *gasp* context. Curry didn’t aim his shimmy at Kyle Korver or the Hawks’ bench or the entire city of Atlanta. He shimmied in the direction of Kent Bazemore, a former teammate and a good friend. Curry’s celebration was a personal acknowledgment that just happened to be in a public setting.

Another idea that I encountered on social media last night and this morning was the question of whether Curry is a humble person or not. I have a theory that I spent a lot of time pondering and researching. It’s complex, lengthy, and definitively answers if Steph Curry is humble. Here it is:

He’s not.

Klay Thompson put it best. In a Q&A with ESPN’s Ethan Strauss, Thompson was discussing confidence and accepting one’s abilities. When Strauss mentioned Curry, the three-point champion asked “look at the way he plays. Is that humble? He added “no humble man can take those shots.”

Curry is the best player in the world. He is the reigning Most Valuable Player and he looks to be a lock for another one. He’s coming off of his first championship and, at 50-5, has the Warriors in position to win another one. He’s casually breaking records and having the best offensive season. His team has been called “lucky” and his championship has been labeled a “fluke.” Why should he be humble?

I can assure you that if I could shoot the ball like that and make the world’s best players look foolish, I’d jump and celebrate and shimmy all day. I mean, when I go play at my local gym, I talk a lot of trash and I’m awful. It’s almost a wonder he doesn’t do it more. 

It’s important to not confuse Curry’s on-court confidence with his off-court character. He might be a better person than he is a basketball player. I understand, I’ve never met him personally so maybe I’m not the most credible source to assess his character. But everyone around him raves about the kind of person he is. He’s treated media and fans with the utmost respect and has represented the Warriors, the league, and himself with professionalism. He even apologized for winning a title.

So I should tweak my theory. Curry’s humble demeanor is genuine off the court. He’s never punched a teammate. He’s never held TV special to announce he’s leaving his home. He’s never humiliated young players. He lives a quiet, reserved life with his family. His meteoric rise to superstardom has not changed him.

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But he’s a killer on the court and he knows it. Just like Michael Jordan. Just like Shaquille O’Neal. Just like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and every great ever. Giving him an elbow to the face isn’t going to stop him. He’s taken on opponents (unsuccessfully, admittedly) a foot taller than him, gone after others, and played through injuries. He’s tough.

At the end of the day, it’s just a game. There’s no sense in wishing another human being harm. Saying “that’s how they did it in the 90’s” is extremely flawed and dangerous logic. Aside from it not working, it’s detrimental to the game. Expecting players to sacrifice their image and money because you are offended by a player having fun is unreasonable. It’s a game that should be played with joy and no one is having more fun than Steph Curry and the Warriors.

If you don’t like Curry’s antics–the turning before the ball goes in, the jumping, the mouthguard–there’s one thing even more effective than a punch or elbow: stopping him.

Good luck.