Stephen Curry had a different, more-immediate reaction.
His reaction with 53 ticks left on the Game 7 clock in the 2016 NBA Finals, seconds after Kyrie Irving’s surgical 3-point shot had fallen through the strings, was a primal, instinctive response to a lifetime spent swirling in a cauldron of competition and pressure: “I gotta go back at him.”
This, Curry would recognize later, was the incorrect course of action. But in the moment, pride overrode practical sensibilities.
“I’m like, ‘I just need a little space’ — and that’s where I started to rush,” Curry says now. “I look back and think I could have easily gone around [Love] and gotten a 2, and we could have gotten a stop, and then I could come back down and hit another shot, and we win another championship, instead of me going for the hero shot, which I felt like I could make.
“That was a shot where I was not under control. And it cost us a championship.”
Curry’s miss effectively ended the series. But even if he went for a quick two, Golden State likely still would have lost. There was no guarantee of converting the quick two, let alone getting a stop, let alone making another shot. So much would have had to go right for the Warriors. There’s a reason the team up three in the final minute usually wins.
With Kevin Love switched onto him, Curry taking a 3-pointer was a reasonable shot on paper. However, learning Curry felt rushed certainly puts a twist on it.
Still, he’s being too hard on himself by saying he cost the Warriors a title. They were in a tough situation already. Having the greatest shooter of all-time force a rushed shot isn’t catastrophic. He can make those.
Draymond Green, who got suspended for Game 5, has also taken blame costing Golden State a title. This really speaks to the character of the team. Multiple players are willing to take personal responsibility rather than point fingers. That’s a great trait.
And it showed up again in these NBA Finals.