Sun. May 28th, 2023

Most athletes who are fortunate enough to have won multiple championships will tell you they’re all equally special. Choosing one over another would be like choosing between your children. Stephen Curry, on the other hand, appears to attach varying values to his four championships. 

In a recent sit-down with Sports Illustrated’s Ashley Nicole Moss, Curry was asked a variety of questions in which he had to choose between two options. Example: if he could only keep one of his basketball superpowers, would it be his ball handling or his shooting ability? Curry went with his shooting for the very obvious reason that he doesn’t need to dribble to run around screens and catch and shoot. 

Curry was then asked if he agreed with Draymond Green, who said the Warriors’ 2022 title was the most special of the four they’ve won since 2015.

“Absolutely,” Curry concurred. “You don’t find me ugly crying on the court for no reason. That raw emotion that came out after Game 6 kind of signaled how much this meant to me, how much this meant to our team. The first [championship], you don’t really know what you’re doing until you accomplish it and then you’re celebrating. The next two were kind of validation for trying to remain champions. But after these last three years, winning that one [2022], definitely the most special.”

Following up, Moss really tested Curry’s allegiance to his most recent ring, asking if he’d rather keep the 2022 title or the two he won with Kevin Durant in 2017 and 2018. 

“I want this one [2022],” Curry said. “Give me this one, all day every day.”

It’s one thing for Curry to value one particular championship over the others, but to say this one ring is worth more than two others combined, that’s really saying something. The unspoken part here is that Curry understands what we all understand: that the 2017 and 2018 titles, while still certainly terrific achievements, were won with a stacked deck. Those Curry-Durant teams were probably the most talented teams in basketball history. 

On the other hand, the 2021-22 Warriors, by championship standards, weren’t nearly as special. For that team to win, Curry had to be Superman. And he was. That’s not to say he wasn’t spectacular in winning his first three titles. He was. He absolutely should’ve won Finals MVP in 2015. He averaged 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in the 2017 Finals, and 27-6-6 in 2018. The man has better postseason numbers than Kobe Bryant. 

But what Curry did this past June, against a truly great Celtics defense that was entirely focused on trying to stop him, with Andrew Wiggins as his only All-Star teammate, is what finally ended the always-ridiculous narrative that he can’t win without a superteam. Curry is the superteam. 

Accomplishments mean more when they come by way of honest struggle, and the three years prior to this title were an honest struggle for the Warriors. Klay Thompson tore his ACL and then ruptured his Achilles. Stephen Curry broke his hand. The Warriors finished with the fewest wins in the league in 2019-20. They missed the playoffs in 2021. Even throughout the 2021-22 season, almost every “expert” regarded the Warriors as a championship afterthought. 

They didn’t have the horses. They needed to trade their young guys for a win-now All-Star. Draymond wasn’t the same player he used to be. Neither was Klay. Even Curry struggled (relatively speaking) through the worst shooting season of his career.

And then, just like that, Curry and company flipped the script and won the whole thing. It makes perfect sense that Curry values winning under those circumstances more than when he was playing with a stacked deck. 

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