If we’re being fair, it took a lot more than one man to turn the Golden State Warriors into a dynasty. The Warriors are playing in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the last eight years because of shrewd team-building, excellent coaching, and contributions big and small from a variety of players since their first title run in 2015. The Warriors wouldn’t be the Warriors without Klay Thompson’s sharpshooting, Draymond Green’s brilliant defense, Andre Iguodala’s versatility, or Steve Kerr’s annual ability to craft masterful systems on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors didn’t need Kevin Durant to win a championship or set a record for regular season success, but his arrival in 2017 changed their legacy forever. The Warriors were once the greatest example of building through the draft since the Jordan Bulls. Suddenly they also became the most ferocious example of big market free agent excess to date. So much has changed since the Warriors first emerged into a championship caliber team, but there’s one constant who has acted as the proverbial rising tide to lift all boats.
The Warriors as we know them always existed first and foremost because of the singular talents of Stephen Curry. The Warriors as they are today would have been dead long ago if it wasn’t for Curry’s star continuing unabated.
The Warriors tied the 2022 NBA Finals by beating the Boston Celtics, 107-97, on the road in Game 4 to knot the series at 2-2. For most of the night, the Warriors looked old and washed. Boston has been the bigger and more athletic team since the series began, and their dominant defense had confounded Golden State in the halfcourt in every matchup. Golden State has only been able to compete for one reason, and that’s Curry. In Game 4, he had one of the greatest performances of his legendary career: 43 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists on 14-of-26 shooting overall and 7-of-14 shooting from three-point range.
This was the one of the best players in league history proving he’s still capable of hitting peak levels to change the complexion of a championship series. It was a treat to watch.
This was Curry greatness as we’ve always known it. He hopped into transition threes, unleashed nasty step-backs, beat his defender to the rim for layups, put in circus and-ones, buried shots after running off screens, and confidently launched triples coming downhill off a ball screen. It’s a package that’s unique to Curry within league history because no one has ever shot the ball this well or commanded the opposing defense’s attention 30-feet from the basket to such a degree.
At 34 years old, Curry has lost a step from the version of himself that became the league’s first ever unanimous MVP in 2016, but the all-time greats have a way of reaching back for their fastball when really need it, even after it should be gone for any mortal player. Curry is not mortal: beyond obviously being the greatest shooter ever, he also has a case as the best point guard ever, the best offensive player ever, and one of the most influential players ever.
Curry doesn’t have a Finals MVP to his name despite three championship rings, but he doesn’t need it to be one of the 10 greatest players in league history. Curry has been the best player in this series to such a significant degree that he has a strong case for MVP even if the Celtics win. Through four games, he’s averaging 34.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor, 49 percent from three, and 86 percent from the line. No one else in this series is in his orbit. Without Curry, the Warriors simply wouldn’t be able to compete, and that says more about Golden State than it does about Boston.
Down 2-1 in the Finals, on the road against a raucous crowd, on a night when no other Warrior could reliably create a shot themselves, Curry delivered one of the best games of his career.
The Warriors are only here because of Steph. The NBA Finals are tied despite Boston having advantages all over the court. There isn’t much doubt over the first four games of the series that the Celtics are the better team. Unfortunately for them, the Warriors still have Stephen Curry. As long as that’s the case, Golden State’s dynasty has the chance to keep going.