Stephen Curry is FanRag’s NBA Sportsman of the Year. And really, who else would it be? Curry is the MVP, led his team to a historically good finish in 2014-15, culminating in a title. And then, for the cherry on the proverbial sundae, he helped the Warriors get off to the greatest start in NBA history.
In writing this, my first inclination was to point out how statistically dominant Curry has been in doing things that are not only record breaking, but borderline surreal. I could write a lot about how incredible he’s been.
I could write about how he’s knocked down 338 three-point shots in the 2015 calendar year. Or I could write about the player with the second most is Klay Thompson at 245. Curry assisted on 95 of those.
I could mention that he’s scored at the NBA’s third-highest per game scoring average, and how the two players who are ahead of him by fewer than one point, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, are taking three and five more true shooting attempts respectively to reach their averages.
I could mention how Curry was last season’s MVP, how he broke his own record for three-point shots in 2014-15 and is on pace to absolutely shatter that record this year. It would be easy to cite that he also set the new record for threes made in a postseason with 98.
I could point out that since the last Yuletide was rung in, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 1,028 points while he was on the court, the best plus-minus in the league. Or I could point out that they’ve been outscored by 90 when he’s not playing. Include the playoffs and the difference between the Warriors and their competition was 1,280 points better with Curry on the court in 2015.
Or I could write that Curry is a plus in 85 of the 101 regular and postseason games he’s played in that span. Or that he hasn’t recorded a minus this season.
Or that the last time he recorded a minus in the regular season was April 5.
I could address how the way he gets his threes is insane, and how he’s made the most contested, off the bounce treys in the league over the last two years. Or, how he’s shooting a surreal 44.2 percent on such shots, based on stats from NBASavant.com. Or that he’s shooting 41.7 percent on the 197 shots he’s drained from 25 feet out.
But frankly, as ridiculous as the numbers are, they barely scratch the surface of why Stephen Curry is our Sportsman of the year.
Fans are churning out to see him. He has captured the league in a way that arguably even surpasses Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Kurt Badenhausen wrote for Forbes:
Curry’s popularity is soaring. He is the top selling NBA player on Fanatics.com, the largest online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise. Curry’s merchandise sales are up 453% this season compared to the first two weeks of last season, while his jersey sales are up 581%. Curry merchandise has been purchased in all 50 states, as well as 26 countries. He is the top-selling player in 38 of the 50 states so far. In addition to the Bay Area, the top markets for Curry’s gear are New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Sacramento. The Warriors are the best-selling NBA team as well.
Fans are showing up early, just to watch him warm up in “droves” according to Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal, who explains:
But mostly they come to watch one person. Curry devotees have reached the point that they refuse to skip his practice shots. He said he started noticing the swelling crowds for his pregame routine in the middle of last year. They grew in size as the season went on. By the Finals, they were almost out of control.
And why wouldn’t you show up early when you get to see things like this?
— Palmerbet (@PalmerbetAU) December 20, 2015
But that tremendous and growing popularity is not why he’s the Sportsman of the Year, either. Though, it too certainly factored in.
It’s not that he has a beautiful wife, a lovely mom, or a loving dad who had a solid NBA career himself. It’s not even that he has the most adorable little girl in the history of human life. Again, those things really help for a nice narrative, but it’s not why he’s the Sportsman of the Year.
There’s something about watching Curry shooting like some sort of modern-day offspring of Annie Oakley and Robin Hood or dribble two balls at the same time. What makes him special is that those things are skills, not physical attributes.
It’s not height, wingspan, hand size, or a supernatural vertical that makes him special. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin are more physically gifted than Curry, and we love watching them play.
Yet, it is Curry, who at a slight 6-3 and a game that mostly stays below the rim, has emerged as the NBA’s most dominant player because he’s honed and perfected skills to a degree we never knew possible. He’s literally changing what we think of basketball.
And that’s something to a mortal universe, where we are all constrained by various limitations in our own walk of life, whatever that happens to be. Curry makes us believe that if we work hard enough at we do, we too can become special.
Curry motivates us to work harder, practice at our trade more and develop our full potential, whatever it is we do. And most importantly, he makes us believe that if we do, it can pay off. He’s our Sportsman of the Year because he’s our Everyman of the Year. He is who we want to be. He makes us believe we can be more than what we are.