The Golden State Warriors weren’t always the dominant force that we’ve learned to know them for. There was a time when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were nothing more than young kids looking to find their place in the league.
Curry wasn’t always the greatest shooter of all time, Thompson wasn’t always an elite catch-and-shoot threat, and Green wasn’t always one of the best defenders in NBA history. And just recently, one of Curry’s old teammates revealed the struggles Curry faced early on in his career.
During an interview with Sky Sports, NBA veteran Jeremy Lin spoke about his experience with Curry, as they played together during Lin’s rookie season, which was Curry’s sophomore season. Lin said that the coach at the time, Keith Smart, didn’t believe in Curry and would often yell at him.
“I was with him my rookie year. The coach that we had didn’t believe that much in Steph and would bench him a lot, get on him, yell at him a lot, was just really tough on him,” Lin told Sky Sports.
It’s fairly well known that Curry wasn’t handed the keys immediately, but to hear the extremeness of the things he went through from someone who witnessed it first hand is very interesting.
And there was even more to it, too.
‘Normal’ for Curry to Get Benched in Fourth
Lin continued on with his stories, revealing that Curry would almost always get benched at some point in the fourth quarter. With the way Curry was being coached, Lin assumed it would shake his confidence, but it didn’t.
“It almost became normal that every fourth quarter, he would get benched for a certain stretch. I felt that would shake any player to some degree and even though his confidence would kind of waver a little bit – because of the way that he was being coached – he had a deep, deep, very strong belief that he was a great player and that he would become a great player, and that the way things were going at that time was not how they were always going to go,” Lin explained.
In fact, Curry refused to let the doubt and mistreatment get to him.
Curry Always Worked Harder
Whenever Curry would get benched in the fourth quarter, Lin said that he would get into the gym the next day and work even harder. He would do everything to convince himself that he’s one of the best in the world and that, one day, he’d get the opportunities he deserved.
“The next day he’d come in and he never tried to change his game too much. He tried to stay aggressive. There’s just this aura that he had of ‘There’s no shot I can’t hit. I can hit and I can catch fire at any point. If you give me one shot and it goes in, you might be in trouble the rest of the night’.
“He was always believing in who he was and how he could play, and the shots he can make, and sticking to it. Sometimes it would get him benched, but other times it allowed him to take over the game – as long as he stuck with it and didn’t change who he was as a player. He felt like over time people would understand, ‘Hey, I’m great and I will develop the freedom and trust that I deserve as a player’,” said Lin.
Obviously, those dark times early in his career were worth it, because they helped Curry become the player he is today.