Stephen Curry was on the floor at Barclays Center more than two-hours before tip-off for tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors point guard was the sole player from either team out on the court warming up that early – and not your run-of-the-mill shooting drills, either. Curry had worked up a nice ‘fourth-quarter’ sweat, practicing coming off screens, catch-and-shoots, and fine tuning his three-pointers.
Determined to set the tone from the outset, looking to upset the Nets in their own building – where the home team had a 7-2 record leading into tonight – in what was in some ways a ‘homecoming’ for head coach Mark Jackson who was born in the ‘borough.
“He actually talked about a McDonalds down the street that he used to hang at,” said Curry after Golden State defeated the Nets, 109-102. “For him to come back and coach [in Brooklyn], it’s been a dream of his and we just wanted to come out with effort to make that happen for him. You could see he had so much passion after the game, you could tell how much this meant to him.
Curry finished the game with 28-points, including 5/9 shooting from long distance.
The bond between coach player formed back when Curry was just a 12-year old accompanying his father to games. Dell Curry’s teammate on the Toronto Raptors was … Mark Jackson.
The young Steph would challenge Jackson to games of one-on-one, albeit to no success.
“We talk about it all the time,” Curry said of that time. “He used to back me down from half-court, it’s kind of surreal that 9-years ago he was ending his career and I was 12-13 years old and to be able to come full circle and him be my coach, and him see me grow up, it’s a pretty cool thing.”
Now in his third season in the league, Curry is emerging as the player the Warriors had envisioned when they drafted the 6’3 guard 7th overall in 2009. He’s become more vocal, and his game is much more multi-faceted than when he first arrived. Reaping the benefits of being injury free for the first time in a couple of seasons, Curry is playing with confidence. On several occasions tonight after hitting a big-shot (and there were a few along the way), especially as Golden State erased a 13-point deficit from the second-quarter, Curry looked like he owned the court celebrating with a level of cockiness befitting a player who knows he belongs on the big stage.
And he did it all against one of the league’s most decorated point guards, Deron Williams. Curry says he was just having fun out on the court.
“I’m just having fun man. They jumped out to a huge lead – they scored 63-points in the first half – then we started picking up our momentum in the third quarter and it was fun to play that well. That’s what we worked so hard for in these big games and perform, you gotta enjoy yourself along the way,” said Curry.
The performance did not go unnoticed by his coach, and mentor.
“He’s a bad man,” Jackson said. “He’s a bad man. At the end of the day, he’s healthy, and I’ll take him matching up against any point guard in this league. And that’s with total respect for Deron Williams and some other guys in this league, but Steph Curry is in that class and he shoots the ball as well as anybody that’s ever played, and for the first time in a long time he’s healthy, and I think people forgot just how good he is.”
Having one of the NBA’s all-time leaders in assists as your teacher can’t hurt when you’re trying to become a more-rounded floor general in a league dominated by explosive – and score-first – players at that position. Curry is thankful for the tutelage he’s received from Coach Jax.
“He made a living off – I mean he played different to what I do – but, he made a living off being a dominant point guard,” said Curry. “He’s a player’s coach that can talk to you in a way that encourages you to keep going, but he’s friendly about it and he really expects the best of us each night.”
The Warriors 12-7 record is testament to that.
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