One of the things we in the media always like to talk about when its time for the Super Bowl, World Series or NBA Finals, is “Who has the most to prove, the most to gain, and the most pressure on them?”
Is it LeBron James, chasing down the ghost of Michael Jordan?
Is it Kevin Durant, chasing down the ghost of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley or any other star to never win a ring?
Or is it Steph Curry, the one-time face of the Warriors, who has arguably taken a backseat to his new teammate?
For me, the most pressure is not LBJ or KD … it’s about Steph.
Lets face it, after two straight NBA Finals during which he’s been something shy of great, Steph is clearly not viewed through the same hype-filled lens that was previously part of his persona.
He was pretty darn good in 2015, when the Warriors won, but that was an injured Cavs team featuring just LBJ, with none of the star power that fills out the present roster.
Last year, Curry was downright awful in the final few games. I will argue he cost his team the title with his Game 5 & 7 performances. In fact, he got rattled in Game 6 and threw a mouthpiece into the crowd.
With under 5 minutes to go, Curry got so heated that he threw his mouthpiece and it hit a fan. He had a high volume point total that night, 30, but it wasn’t enough.
In Game 7, with his team in the process of blowing a 3-1 series advantage, Curry vanished like a fart in the wind. 17 pts, 6/19 from the field, and under 29% from beyond the arc.
The game doesn’t remember guys who who shoot their team out of a game 7, it forgets them.
He needs to have a great series if he wants to cement his legacy as one of the all-timers. People have already put him too high on their NBA All-Time Rankings list, in some cases slotting him ahead of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash and Isaiah Thomas. Now, a great Finals will help justify those rankings.
So when your friends tell you that LeBron James or Kevin Durant have the most pressure on them in these finals, tell them politely that they’re wrong.
Steph Curry has a legacy, too, and a huge part of it hinges on the next few weeks.