By: Jesse Taylor
Saying you were broke in college is like saying you believe in God when you’re really not sure if you believe in God but you’re scared if you don’t believe in God while if you look at science and reality you probably really wouldn’t believe in God. Everybody says that shit.
But for real, I was soooo broke in college. I graduated thanks to grant money and odd jobs like delivering pizzas and officiating intramural football and basketball games where rich frat boys yelled at me about how their parents never told them “no” so how dare I tell them they didn’t get fouled on that missed shot.
After bills and food, I barely had any money left over. And 99% of that left over money was spent trying to get laid. The other 1%? That went to something truly deserving of my money.
I was a “recorder” of albums. In high school, I had a friend who stole rap cassette tapes like hoarders collect cats. So I went to his house and dubbed all of his music. In college, a group of friends and I found a music store that actually let you return unwrapped tapes and CDs. So we each took turns buying, recording and returning music. And through garage sale magic, my mom ended up with a crate of the most amazing collection of vinyl albums – from Jimi Hendrix to The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Cream, Van Morrison, The Temptations and on and on. So I dubbed all that onto cassettes and it expanded my musical horizons throughout college.
But I never, ever, recorded a 2Pac, Ice Cube or A Tribe Called Quest album. I stowed money away to purchase their music upon release. I felt I owed it to them for all they had given me.
In college I added Outkast to that list.
At first, Outkast got the dub treatment. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was solid, but I didn’t put it on a Tribe, Cube or Pac level worthy of my limited cash flow.
Then I heard ATLiens. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when Andre Benjamin took me on a rap music journey that I had never before experienced. My then-girlfriend brought a friend over to hang out with my roommate and I in our college apartment that contained more posters than furniture and food. The lady friend brought her new ATLiens CD. I haven’t stopped listening to it since that night.
I’ll admit, it got the dub treatment in my room that evening. But after two straight days of listening to it non-stop, I knew the recorded cassette tape was an immoral object. Outkast was now worthy of my money. I went out and bought the ATLiens CD on day three. And when my expectations were so high for their next album that nothing could ever surpass them, Outkast followed ATLiens with Aquemini – what I consider the greatest rap album of all time. Expectations exceeded. Argue if you want, but I won’t change my mind. Music means different things to different people at different times in their lives. Everything was perfect for me with Aquemini. But that’s a story for another time.
Since then, I started a career and made some money, allowing me to go back and buy CDs or MP3s. But when it really counted – when I had no money to spare – only Tribe, Pac, Cube and Outkast deserved my circumscribed cash.
This leads us to Steph Curry. For me, he has now reached the sports equivalent of my late 80s to mid 90s Mount Rushmore of music.
This is a sports level I reserve solely for Golden State Warriors. That’s my team. It’s a short list of guys I have watched in real time who were next-level players – guys you felt extremely confident about. You knew they could take over when it mattered.
All three Run-TMC members are on it. Chris Webber isn’t, but should have been goddamnit. Hell no Latrell Sprewell and Monta Ellis aren’t on it. Antawn Jamison was not “that guy.” I really want to put Jason Richardson on it, but just can’t. Baron Davis has to be on there. Like Richmond, he had a short Warriors career, but his impact was huge. Without him, there’s no “We Believe.”
That’s it. Four guys in my Warriors fandom era. Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Baron Davis.
Now, make it five. Curry has reached a point where I need to reward him. Instead of money for a CD, it’s time writing this article and placing him on my list. In my short-lived WarriorsWorld freelance career, he’s been a side note. He was 25% of an article where I compared him to Q-Tip. He was rarely mentioned in my David Lee and Klay Thompson watches.
He is a dubbed Dub no more.
This is a feeling thing for me. I don’t even want to look at stats when writing about Curry at the moment. It’s about watching him play and experiencing the way he knows that we know that he knows he’s the man.
Quick tangent: Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in stats. They are a crucial part of our basketball enjoyment. What makes basketball such an amazing game is everything that goes into it.
Old school stats.
How players heat up and catch fire in real life just like in NBA Jam.
The way teammates interact and can either make each other better or worse.
How players get distracted during a game while wondering if their wife will find out about that groupie they slept with last night in Miami.
Then, when that same player remembers his wife married him for the money and potential to be on “NBA Wives” so it’s all good with that groupie.
Knowing you can take the guy in front of you, but not the guy next to him so you better drive to the basket right now.
Looking over your shoulder after a missed shot to see if your teammates are pissed.
Not looking at your teammates after your drain a three because you know you’re the shit.
And then crushing all of those great things into a spherical shape and watching Dr. J spin it around on his finger as Moses Guthrie in “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.”
What you get from all that is so much of basketball is mental. This season, it’s not just about the healthy ankles for Curry. He’s finally got a team that fully supports him as the leader and the go-to guy. Unfailingly. Ride or die. One hundred percent.
His co-captain David Lee loves him. The veteran leaders Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Richard Jefferson respect him and have anointed him top chef. And maybe most importantly, he has four rookies on the team that look up to him, are in awe of him and make him feel like Superman.
Klay Thompson is the only question mark, but he’s more John Steinbeck’s Lennie to Curry’s George.
In short, he’s finally on a team without Monta Ellis.
In the past, Steph always had to worry about what Monta was thinking.
You can work on your shot and perfect your mechanics all you want. But if you don’t have that confidence, that swag, during a game, you’re not going to be at your best. Curry was never 100 percent with Monta. Now he is.
Watching Curry right now, I feel like I’m watching Mullin again. I’m bordering on blasphemy saying that and it’s way too soon to say Curry is going to have a Hall of Fame career like Mullin. But something tells me we’re into something good with this kid. He’s leading the Warriors to victories. He’s carrying the team when no one else shows up. Coming off screens. Creating off the dribble (which kills any ridiculous argument that Klay is the better shooter). He’s hitting big shots. Curry’s got that swag.
You feel like every shot is going in. Just like with Mullin.
What put me over the top was Curry’s performance against the Pacers. It wasn’t all those points and the killer crossover on George Hill. It was watching him come to the aid of David Lee during an altercation and then get thoroughly pissed off when Roy Hibbert tossed him to the ground. Curry was livid and I loved it. I want that edge from my star player.
Mullin never had an altercation that I can recall. But on the flip, nobody ever messed with Mully. He was one of the most respected and well-liked players in the history of the game. Try to find someone say something bad about him. People crack on his flat-top and that’s about it.
Mully and Steph are both members of AA: Alcoholics Anonymous and Anxious Ankles.
Despite his play this year, we all remain nervous about Steph’s ankles. But it took a while for people to get over their uneasiness about Mullin relapsing when he got out of rehab. Curry is in his fourth NBA season. That’s about the time Mullin’s career took off when he became sober.
I’ve been skeptically recording copies of Curry for three-and-a-half years now. I finally just bought my Steph version of the ATLiens CD. Let’s hope he follows it up with Aquemini, Stankonia and Speakerboxx … and doesn’t release Idlewild until he’s ready to retire.