As we say goodbye to Kobe Bryant today, we don’t have to look far to see the future of the game.
Stephen Curry is his name. I had a chance to cover him back in February. Here’s that story… not the story of the game but the story of the man behind the greatest team in regular season history.
February 3, 2016
I took the metro into D.C. from College Park and there was definitely a different type of buzz, you knew something or someone special was in town.
Downtown is crazy…. Is someone special in town tonight? Lol. Don't respond, I know who/ what is here.
— Troy Jefferson (@troy_jefferson) February 3, 2016
I get off the metro at Gallery Place and I’m welcomed by a legion of Warriors “fans” or “bandwagoners.”
Mind you this is 90 minutes before tip. The Verizon Center won’t open for another 30 minutes and anybody from D.C. knows people don’t get to the arena this early for Wizards games.
I make my way past the sea of blue and gold into the press box. Open up my laptop and start firing off some tweets. Again this is my first time covering the NBA and my previous sports journalism experience includes MSU tennis and volleyball so I’m in awe.
After collecting my bearings, I make my way down to the court for the famed Steph Curry dribbling extravaganza.
The drills, the fans, the frenzy is nothing new for Steph Curry and the Warriors, who are 44-4 at this time.
He seems unfazed by the fans and meticulously works through his pregame regiment.
I’ve never seen fans “Oooh” and “Aww” for pregame shots but even 45 minutes before the game, the fans are ready. You can feel it.
It doesn’t feel like a Wizards home game. Rarely do Wizards home game feel like any home court advantage but this is different.
The Wizards had been boo-ed months earlier when Kobe brought his farewell tour to D.C. Where he turned back the clock for 31 points and a win.
I make my way to the other side to watch John Wall warm up. As you can expect, nobody is concerned with his pregame routine. Even though, he has led the home team to consecutive playoff appearances and is on the verge of a third All-Star appearance. Nobody cares.
I’ve had my pregame routine fill.
Time to return to the press box. ESPN is in town and so is a bunch of other media. My office for the night will be the press box above the 400 section, the one generally used for hockey games. I’m flanked by a few media members from China. This surely isn’t a MSU- Nebraska volleyball game.
The teams are introduced…. The Warriors get a significantly louder cheer than the Wizards. No surprise there.
Just keep it competitive.
Randy Wittman isn’t coaching tonight following the death of his brother. Bradley Beal isn’t in the starting lineup as he works his way back from injury.
Just keep it close. Don’t get embarrassed.
As a dude who grew up a D.C. sports fan, you wait for the worst possible scenario to come to fruition.
And it does.
Steph Curry has one of those “get to a TV”/ “sprint to Twitter” starts.
Curry makes his first six shots from the field and nearly outscores the Wizards in the first quarter.
Steph 25. Wizards 28.
I’ve seen Lebron live. This is something not necessarily greater but something different. LeBron can soar like no other and everything about him is imposing.
Steph is 6’3” and skinny but his game is a combination of herky-jerky, smoothness that captivates.
I’m live tweeting this game and I’m running out of adjectives. Curry is doing the most unbelievable things I see on vine only right in front of my eyes.
As a journalist, you’re taught to be objective and professional in the press box. I’m not outwardly showing any expression but I’m mesmerized by what I’m seeing.
A player shaped like a gumby is beating a NBA team single handily? In their own backyard? Nah, man.
Curry finishes the first half with 36 points on 13/14 shooting and somehow I feel that he can do more.
“It’s like Kobe [Bryant] when he had 81,” Wall said after the game. “He couldn’t miss. You keep defending the best way you can. We challenged some shots. He didn’t have too many open looks. He just made them.”
Curry came into this game on a perceived “slump,” scoring just 50 points in the previous three games combined.
Wizards are down 74-60 at halftime but it feels like 174-60.
I guess I should squeeze in here that John Wall had a career day, scoring 41 points on 17-of-25 shooting with ten assists.
But, Steph Curry is that entertaining. He can overshadow your career day and make it look effortless.
The Wizards even bought the game to within ten in the second half but nobody really felt like they could take the lead and win.
I think the most ridiculous moment for me was just how nonchalant Steph Curry felt about his 51 points, seven rebounds and three steals after the game.
Like any true superstar, Curry is more concerned with the turnovers that he knows could haunt his team down the road.
“Just a couple lazy passes, telegraphed passes. It happens, but it’s frustrating because when they happen, that’s when they got back in the game, and you don’t want to give them any life with transition or easy fast-break opportunities where we can’t get our defense set, and I was the culprit plenty of times,” Curry said.
Curry goes through his five minute thirty one second post game press conference.
I can’t understand this.
Curry has just scored 51 points and made 11 three pointers in 36 minutes. He needs only three quarters of time to come one three pointer shy of the record, but doesn’t care.
“I was kind of searching but not trying to force with where the game was,” Curry said. “You can’t mess around with the basketball gods trying to chase a record if the game doesn’t call for it.”
It hits me. Maybe, Steph isn’t like anything I’m used to. Maybe, he has been sent down from the “basketball gods” to defy any logical notion we have about how a basketball player should look and play.
The only concrete conclusion I could come to after the game was that Steph is nothing like we’ve ever seen before.