Steph Curry Does It For The Culture

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Stephen Curry
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Stephen Curry /

Steph Curry has been devalued because his true impact is measured culturally, not statistically.

Steph Curry is one of the most accomplished players of his generation. He’s won two MVP awards and two championships, spurred on the greatest regular season record in NBA history, shattered the single season Three Pointer record, transformed Under Armour into a major player on the sneaker market – the list goes on and on. Yet why is he so disparaged in today’s NBA landscape?

Despite having his best ever postseason, this summer has consisted of non-stop Steph Curry controversies. First, ESPN writer Dave McMenamin tweeted a list of “franchise changing solo talents” and left Curry off.  Earlier this month, another ESPN writer J.A. Adande reported that Curry’s chances of winning another MVP are slim to none, even though teammate Kevin Durant has entered the season as the odds-on favorite. Finally, former Cleveland Cavaliers bully bench player Dahntay Jones claimed that Steph Curry wasn’t even in the NBA’s top 10.

These types of slights aren’t new to Steph Curry. They’ve plagued him his whole career. Time and again Warriors fans have come to his aid, including our own Blue Man Hoop writers. Yet his detractors miss the point of what makes Curry so great. All of his statistical accomplishments pale in comparison to the greatest value he offers: the culture he sets for the Warriors.

The Warriors Rely On Curry’s Intangible Qualities

The Warriors greatest strength isn’t having the most talent in the NBA – it’s practicing a culture that allows this talent to thrive together. No one is more influential in that regards than Steph Curry. The twin visions of playing with joy and playing with sacrifice shine through the MVP point guard.

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Steve Kerr’s motion offense does not work if Curry doesn’t do the grunt work of running through fields of opposing players and screens. Andre Iguodala and David Lee don’t accept roles as bench players if Curry complains about his status and salary. Steph Curry does what all those other MVP and franchise pillars don’t: make their teammates better. Curry’s enthusiasm and generosity on the court extends to the rest of the team.

Nowhere is that more seen than with Kevin Durant. The biggest knock on Curry was his willingness to take a downsized role following the former MVP’s arrival, resulting in a statistical downturn and watching his teammate hoisted the Finals MVP trophy.

Never mind that Curry was the one who created a culture that appealed to Durant in the first place. Never mind the fact that super-teams hardly ever win in their first year together, but Curry’s generosity and leadership made sure the Warriors didn’t miss a beat.

Kevin Durant played the best basketball of his life in those Finals and deserved that Finals MVP, but it’s no coincidence that the Warriors one loss came when Curry had a bad game. Durant and the Warriors themselves succeed in the space that Steph Curry creates. Other than LeBron James, he is the most irreplaceable player in the NBA – and no one is dying to leave Steph either.

How will Steph be looked at in the future?

There is a chance that the Steph Curry slander continues until his final game. His true value and impact won’t be seen until his full career comes into focus. In that, he’s less like any of his All-Star peers and more like legendary Spurs big man Tim Duncan.

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Similarly winning back to back MVP awards, Duncan set a lasting culture with coach Gregg Popovich that has made San Antonio into an NBA powerhouse. Duncan never cared about being the star and allowed teammates to step in and take more glamorous responsibilities, even though he was always the bedrock of their success.

Steph Curry follows a similar blueprint. Even though he’s capable of running up the scoreboard, the true measure of his worth is in how he leads the team. All he has to do now is let the haters hate and watch the championships pile up. Although a Finals MVP award wouldn’t hurt either.