CLEVELAND — Early in the Finals, Stephen Curry was asked about the Finals MVP trophy and said that as long as a Warrior won it he’d be fine, because that meant they won the title.
But after an 8-of-21 shooting performance in Game 5 — he was 2-of-9 from three in the second half — where the two-time league MVP could not lift up his teammates to close the NBA Finals out at home, the Curry backlash via social media critics has grown. Faced with big challenges, some demand their stars to respond by taking on more — as LeBron James did in Game 5. And Kyrie Irving. What kind of leader has Curry been?
Curry will have none of that.
“I don’t really worry about (what people say),” Curry said Wednesday, a day before his team tries to win an NBA Finals on the road for the second consecutive year. “I mean, there’s kind of an historical kind of expectation of the all-time greats in this league that have had great Finals moments and had these kind of numbers and these kind of numbers. None of them played for this team and understood how I try to help my team every single night.
“So, yeah, I want to honestly play better and more consistent, but the situation is right now we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win. So right now it could kind of get lost in that. But at the end of the day if I’m sitting here tomorrow night with another trophy and celebrating with my teammates, we can talk all day.”
Curry is averaging 22 points a game and shooting 42.3 percent from three for the series, which includes a 38-point Game 4 Warriors win on the road. But he’s also had turnovers, some defensive challenges, and he’s just not felt dominant (save for that one Game 4 stretch). He’s at best third on his own team’s ballot if the Finals MVP voting were done right now. Maybe fourth.
For some, that diminishes what Curry has done these Finals. Which is foolish. You can’t say the only thing that is important is winning then question how somebody wins. LeBron has had a much better Finals individual performance, do you think he’d swap positions with Curry right now to be up 3-2?
“I’d much rather be in their position than in our position,” Richard Jefferson said.
Curry knows his legacy is tied to rings more than NBA Finals MVPs or any other awards, and he wants to lead his team to a title, everything else is gravy.
“Everybody leads in a different way, and I don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment and say Game 5 was a direct reflection of who we are as a team and who I am as an individual, as a player, as a leader,” Curry said. “I was out there doing what I was trying to do to help our team win and it didn’t work. So that happens in sports. It happens in our game, and nothing’s going to stop me from coming back and doing what I do to help lead my team in Game 6. So I’m comfortable with that.”