Moore: Curry’s Finals MVP ends the dishonest criticism of his playoff resume

Sometimes, the haters need cooling off.

After the Atlanta Braves clinched the 1992 National League pennant, part-time Braves outfielder (and full-time Falcons cornerback) Deion Sanders wanted all the smoke from CBS commentator Tim McCarver after he spent the series criticizing Sanders for being as advertised: an elite two-sport athlete. Hours after shutting down Miami Dolphins receivers, and moments after catching pop-ups in the outfield, Sanders saved his best play of the day for McCarver.

With an ice tub in his hand, Sanders demanded to know where McCarver was in the celebratory locker room, pulled up on the talking head and doused him with the ice water. All in “Prime’s” time in prime time.

After cooking the Boston Celtics on their home floor to win his fourth title, and first Finals MVP, this was Stephen Curry’s ice tub moment Revenge in prime time for all the “McCarvers” in the media and in the stands that thought that Curry does not show up “when it matters most” or does not belong in the pantheon of all-time greats.

You can look at Curry’s Finals MVP as being a cold splash to the narrative that he needs one for validation or to “solidify his legacy”, but the reality is the notion that he needed the approval of 11 people with their own biases and agendas in the first place was egregious and asinine. The truth is that even before winning the Bill Russell Trophy, Curry was already established as an all-time great — whether pundits want to admit it or not.

The Vanguard

After Curry’s 43-point masterpiece in Game 4, ESPN’s Jalen Rose called him a vanguard. When you think about it, Rose is spot on. Curry, with the way he plays, is and has been at the forefront of how the game is played now — emphasis on 3-point shooting, playing with space on offense, and making positionless basketball prevalent league-wide.

Curry has also forced us to look at dominance differently. Just because he doesn’t fit the cookie-cut profile of a dominant athlete, doesn’t mean that he does not dominate. He does it differently. He does it with skill. He does it with speed, stamina and underrated strength. For those critics who assume that anyone could play the way that Curry does, try this:

If you happen to be a parent of a young child, chase him or her around during a sugar rush and try to catch them. Try doing it for an hour. Exhausting, right? Torturous, right? Now imagine how opposing defenses feel while guarding Curry off the ball — as if dealing with him on the ball wasn’t enough.

Curry makes shooting seem effortless, and oftentimes it’s used to diminish him. Those 30-foot and logo 3s seem easy on TV but it hits differently once you step on the court and see how far the distance from midcourt to the basket really is. Plus, he’s expending energy off-ball, on-ball occasionally and on defense.  Curry may not be able to dunk, block shots or whatever you measure athleticism by but his play style is a testament to his conditioning and core strength, which makes him just as much of an athlete as other superstars in the NBA.

Numbers and Moments Don’t Lie

During the first phase of this dynasty, a narrative of Curry not showing up in the playoffs existed. It should’ve never existed in the first place. For his postseason career, Curry has averaged  26.6 points per game on 45/40/89 percent shooting splits, 5.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He’s 10th all-time in NBA Finals points per game at 27.0 and total assists at 204. In closeout games in the Finals, he averages 32.5 points per game — second only to Michael Jordan. For the record, he’s also ninth all-time in the Finals in steals with 55.

Some media and fans were so jaded and embittered by the three seasons with Kevin Durant that they conveniently forgot how great Curry is in order to spin more false narratives. Critics have even gone as far as saying that Curry can’t close out a team in the postseason. His performance in the 2019 Western Conference Finals proved that was a lie. Curry toyed with the Portland Trailblazers and their defense in a sweep, averaging 36.5 points per game. His 146 total points in that series eclipsed Shaquille O’Neal’s record for most points in a sweep.

Remember Game 6 against the Houston Rockets in the same year? The Warriors were without Durant, who tore his Achilles in Game 5, and Curry didn’t score in the first half. He finished with 33 points — 30 of which came in the game’s final 16 minutes, but don’t let facts get in the way of narratives and takes dripping in hot garbage, that just ruins the fun. Whatever. Just know that there’s nothing about Curry’s numbers or moment that indicates that he doesn’t show up “when it matters most”.

During last night’s celebration, Curry bellowed, “What are they gonna say now?”

There’s nothing left to be said. Curry’s resume is full now. They can’t say he hasn’t been the best player. They can’t use “no Finals MVP” now. All those manufactured talking points once and for all have been made old — with a splash.

Contributed by local news sources

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