OAKLAND — Five minutes before his Monday morning press conference, hours before tip off against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry was notified that he was a mere 10 points away from eclipsing 15,000 career points.
After five All-Star nominations, three NBA championships, and two MVP awards — one of which unanimous — Curry has made a point to not hang on his personal stats.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he wasn’t aware of it,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said before the game. “Guys like Steph don’t come around too often.”
At the 7:36 mark of the second quarter, Curry pulled up in transition from 31 feet to bury his second 3-pointer of the night, giving him the necessary 10 points to reach the milestone. In doing so, Curry became the fifth player in Golden State’s 79-year history to achieve said feat, following Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Paul Arizin and Chris Mullin.
“I heard the names of the other four guys, three of whom are in the rafters [at Oracle],” Curry said after the game. “It just reminds me of all of the success we’ve had over the recent years and just individual milestones and accolades come out of that.”
Before Curry’s arrival in Golden State, the Warriors had become the laughing stock of the NBA, making only one playoff appearance — the famous ‘We Believe” postseason run — since the 1994 season.
During that span, Golden State averaged 32.2 wins per year, including 29 in the 2008-09 season, which landed Golden State the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
With that pick, the Warriors would select Curry, an undersized and overlooked guard coming out of Davidson.
“For the Warriors, he changed everything from where the team had been over the previous couple of decades,” Kerr said. “He was the foundational piece to what seeing right now and I think a major force in creating what we have today.”
With Curry’s leadership and shooting, the Warriors would begin to see the fruits of his labor in the 2012 season, as a franchise deprived of success for the better part of two decades found themselves in the playoffs after winning 47 games.
Since then, Golden State has become the standard of the NBA, hoisting three Larry O’Brien trophies and even winning an NBA-record 73 games in 2016. His shooting has even forced video game developers to go back to the drawing board.
“He works so hard. He’s such a great leader,” said Klay Thompson, who was drafted by the Warriors two years after Curry in 2011. “He just exudes so much confidence and joy that you root for guys like Steph.
“I’ve been with him for eight years and I couldn’t have asked for a better point guard … I would not be where I’m at today without him. I’m very thankful for what he’s done.”
Kevin Durant, rather than reflecting on the milestone itself, simply marveled at what Curry does every day in practice.
“It’s more exciting just seeing him come to work every day and work on his game,” Durant said. “I don’t want to take what he does on the court for granted, but I’m just a sucker for watching guys while they work, while the lights are lower than usual. He’s one of those guys that puts in the work every single day and produces … It’s an honor to take the court with him.”
For Curry, while the personal success is nice, the pursuit of a fourth ring trumps all as the Warriors look to make their fifth-straight NBA Finals appearance in June.
“It’s hard to really put it in perspective to be honest,” Curry said. “Just in terms of we’re still in the moment; still grinding, still on the journey. Eventually when it’s all said and done, hopefully a long time from now, I’ll be able to really reflect on what that means.
“It’s beyond my wildest imagination, when I was first drafted here, what this could all mean.”