The legend of Stephen Curry has reached a new peak in his 12th season

Dub Nation already knew the Chef was the top dog, but now he's the best player this season according to Shaq, Kenny, and Chuck!

The Golden State Warriors took care of business last night, defeating the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder 118-97 in San Francisco.

They were led by the scoring dominance of Stephen Curry who tortured OKC with 34 points and 7 assists in 31 minutes. This key win keeps the Warriors in the thick of the playoff race, but also prompted a shocking admission from the notoriously ornery NBA on TNT crew: Curry is the best player in the game.

Whoa! Suddenly I’m inspired to go on a GOLD-BLOODED RANT.

Oh now he’s the best, huh?

The first basketball related piece I ever typed out was on a Gateway PC running Windows XP back in 2002. I had gotten hooked on sports shows where grown men scream at each other: programs like Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, and Best Damn Sports Show. This was during the time of the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers dynasty, and I was inspired to write about how overrated Kobe was. Yes, my sportswriting dreams started off in my childhood bedroom hating on a future Hall-of-Famer.

The thought process behind the haterade I poured out was that Shaq was the most dominant force in basketball, and while Kobe was a solid sidekick, he wasn’t better than All-Stars like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Paul Pierce. Swap Kobe with any of those guys and they’d start a dynasty with Shaq too, while Kobe would just be another volume shooting swingman nobody was worried about. Three hours and two paragraphs later, I had it alllll figured out. I saved the Microsoft Word file and went back to weakly flirting on AOL Instant Messenger with the girl from drama class.

Fast forward to 2006, my freshman year in college, when Shaq had been traded to Miami while Kobe was a solo All-Star trapped in a purgatory of his own relentless willpower and competitive fury. Night after night my dorm bros and I crowded around a 17-inch TV to watch Kobe drop ridiculous scoring numbers on everybody. It wasn’t just that he was getting his 40 points on maximum difficulty with an entire team of defenders draped over him; it was also that the franchise NEEDED it from him.

Smush Parker and Kwame Brown weren’t going to bail him out. He was going to have to destroy the double-teams on his own, and hope his teammates could pick up the scraps. When Kobe dragged that 7th seed to a 7-game war against Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns, my friends and I were in slack-jawed consensus: he had to be the best player in the world. Nash won the MVP that year, but Kobe was clearly the most terrifying force in basketball.

Weird how I couldn’t appreciate him when he was All-NBA and winning championships alongside Shaq. I believe we’re seeing the same thing happening again on a larger scale with Stephen Curry. Despite the fact that he’s already won three championships and two MVP’s (including the first Unanimous one ever) he was constantly downplayed by detractors as a “system player” or “collaborative talent” who couldn’t thrive in a situation where his teammates didn’t do the heavy lifting.

I’ll summarize the various old arguments against Curry being the best player, despite his dominance:

  • 2015 title team? Well Curry didn’t win the Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala did, so how could he be the best player?

  • 2016 73-win team? Well Curry led the team that blew a 3-1 lead so he’s not on LeBron James’ level.

  • 2017-2019? Kevin Durant won Finals MVP 2x, Draymond Green’s the real point guard, and Klay Thompson bails them out when they get into trouble. Anybody can look good playing for a superteam!

Once KD and Iguodala were gone and Thompson was serially injured, the haters finally felt like we were gonna see the REAL Curry. The 2020-2021 season is supposed to be the year were the playing field was leveled against him. His best teammates are the allegedly completely terrible Andrew Wiggins, the allegedly super overrated Green, and some G-Leaguers sprinkled around.

Fascinating. Three titles and two MVP’s already on the resume and yet he still hadn’t proven himself in the court of public opinion.

The spiciest Curry season ever?

I’ll just leave these tweets right here to show how Curry has responded…

DAMN STEPH WHY YOU GOTTA DO ‘EM LIKE THAT?! Curry is out here putting up numbers far superior to the season he won his first MVP, and on par with what he did during his Unanimous MVP season.

  • Now: 31.6 PPG, 5.5 REB, 5.8 AST, 48% FG, 42% 3PT, 91% FT

  • 2015-2016 Unanimous MVP season: 30.1 PPG, 5.4 REB, 6.7 AST, 50% FG, 45% 3PT, 90% FT

  • 2014-2015 MVP season: 23.8 PPG, 4.3 REB, 7.7 AST, 48% FG, 44% 3PT, 91% FT

But of course, much in the same way that I didn’t properly appreciate Kobe until he dragged his depleted team to the playoffs, it’s Golden State’s team success that’s showing Curry’s greatness. The Dubs are currently the 8th seed despite losing Klay Thompson, Marquese Chriss, James Wiseman, Eric Paschall, Damion Lee, and Kelly Oubre Jr. for huge swaths of the season. That 8th seed is several spots higher than ESPN predicted they would be after Thompson tore his Achilles.

Now the world is apparently ready to confess what Warriors fans and wise observers have known for many moons now: Curry is the best player in the world. For Shaq, Kenny, and Chuck to come to the consensus is the final nail in the coffin for the average unbelieving sports pundit.

Perhaps we should have gotten a clue that Curry wasn’t a system player when Durant let it be known that Curry WAS the system.

But hey, I know how it is to drink haterade. Thank goodness no one can read my old article on Kobe.

UPDATE: LGW artistic guru Ivan B. has blessed with a beautiful graphical look at the play-in situation that he’ll be updating daily for our needs.