The Golden State Warriors have officially begun their title defense as preseason work opened this week, but a familiar tune of criticism and doubt surrounding superstar Steph Curry remains inexplicably unchanged.
Despite proving all the haters wrong last year, questions persist in national discourse about Curry’s ability to continue operating as one of the NBA’s best players at the age of 35, which he’ll turn in March. Dubs head coach Steve Kerr, however, isn’t having any of it.
Kerr appeared on the Wednesday, September 21 edition of the Real Ones podcast, presented by The Ringer, and set the doubters straight by offering some insight that analysts and critics “may not understand” about the four-time champion and two-time league MVP.
“Well, you got to understand, the guy is a killer,” Kerr said of Curry. “He’s a killer and people always look at him as the joyful guy. He’s knocking down these half-court shots and shimmying, but he’s an absolute killer.”
“With Steph, if you don’t really know him, you may not understand his competitiveness,” Kerr added.
Two Years of Injury Issues For Warriors Lit Fire Under Curry
Curry’s competitiveness was given extra fire by two years of what could be described as basketball purgatory before the team’s most recent championship run.
Golden State had appeared in five straight NBA Finals, and won three rings, as the 2019-20 season approached. But after Kevin Durant’s departure and Klay Thompson’s year-ending ACL tear in Game 6 of the previous Finals, the Dubs were relegated to something of a lost season. A hand injury to Curry just a few games into that campaign sealed Golden State’s fate and led to a No. 2 overall draft selection that the team converted into big man James Wiseman.
The next year was also difficult, as Thompson suffered an Achilles’ tendon tear during his ACL rehabilitation and was ruled out for another season. Curry produced a valiant effort to lead the Dubs to the NBA Play-In Tournament, but fell one win shy of the playoffs.
It was at that point, if not before, that analysts and critics seemed to forget what Curry and the Dubs were capable of when fully healthy. Kerr said Curry’s ears were wide open the entire time.
“Two years of not being in the playoffs and multiple years of people saying, ‘Well, he’s never won Finals MVP,’ he used every bit of that to motivate himself, as great players tend to do,” Kerr said. “And he was on a mission all last year. I think once the playoffs started, he realized we got a shot here and he was, especially in that Boston [Celtics] series, boy he was locked in.”