Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry had one of the best seasons of his career last year, becoming the oldest scoring champion since Michael Jordan did it at 35 and nearly matching the numbers from the campaign that earned him the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.
Curry spoke out about his late-career flourish this week, saying that another future Hall of Famer has set the standard for peaking at a time when nearly all other NBA careers have ended.
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Curry Shared Admiration for Lakers Star
Even though he was returning from a major injury and playing without fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, Curry had an MVP-worthy season in 2020-21. He averaged 32 points per game on 42% field-goal shooting from behind the three-point arc, adding 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
Curry said that rival LeBron James is the model for a player doing so well this late into their 30s.
“He set the standard for that. Let’s keep it real,” Curry said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can and reimagining what that looks like. You know the work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the offseason with how you take care of your body and your mind and balancing the on-court and off-court stuff.”
Curry’s play also reminds his coach of another NBA legend who played well into his late 30s. Last season, as the Warriors guard was leading the shorthanded team to a seventh-place finish in the Western Conference, Golden State coach Steve Kerr compared Curry to his most famous former teammate.
“He’s reminding me of MJ in that you just get so used to the brilliance and the excellence, it sort of blends in with everything else,” Kerr told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “It just becomes routine. It’s insane to say that because what you’re watching is otherworldly, and yet you sort of begin to expect it. That’s probably the purest sign of greatness.”
Curry and James Rivals Again
Though Curry may have plenty of praise for James, the two are expected to renew their longtime rivalry this season. Though the Warriors fell short of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and the Lakers struggled in 2020-21 with a short offseason after winning an NBA title in the bubble, both are predicted to be contenders in the Western Conference.
In NBA.com’s general manager survey, the Warriors were picked to finish fifth in the conference while the Lakers were pegged as the top seed, which could put them on track for a potential showdown in the NBA playoffs.
ESPN also put the Lakers on top of the conference with the Warriors finishing sixth, but noted that Golden State has the chance for a bounce-back year.
The Warriors seem far removed from their run of five straight Finals trips, considering Golden State hasn’t made the playoffs the last couple of years. But Stephen Curry is still in peak form, and his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson is anticipated to return at some point several weeks into the season after missing the last two due to knee and Achilles injuries.