We just witnessed the greatest regular season individual Warriors performance. Though Golden State didn’t win, Stephen Curry’s net-melting 54 points will endure for decades in our collective memory. If not, it’s only because the future yields such a mind-tingling addictive social media platform that all knowledge but the present gets blotted out. Thankfully, our currently addictive social media platforms just amplified the feeling of giddy amazement; The Twitter reactions were almost as fun as the shooting mastery that stoked them.
Also fun: Hearing the warble of a Madison Square Garden crowd, involuntarily sighing with what could only be the unholy mix of dread, shock, and joy. Listen for it on Curry’s last four bombs. That’s the basketball noise, the recognition of an incredible moment that happens in unison, but isn’t choreographed or even expected. The road crowd noise is “awe” in both the antiquated and modern senses of the word.
At Oracle, they often put season ticket holders on the jumbotron and ask what their favorite Warrior memory of all time is. Without fail, the answer is either the 1975 championship, the Sleepy Floyd Game, or We Believe. The listing of accomplishment is its own sad reflection of so many franchise failures. A mere three choices shouldn’t be the fruits of a half century. At least there’s a recent entrant, and unlike the Big Three, it hails from the usually forgettable regular season.
Let’s not make this just about the calculus of accomplishment, though. To call it “54 points” or “11 threes” is reductive to the point of deceptive. It was also how Steph Curry pulled this off. These were, by and large, not wide open, off-the-catch attempts. They came off the dribble, and in transition. Even the open off-catch looks were met with surging closeouts. The dude was just impervious. Whenever Curry’s shot flew up from the fray, the defense might have felt the stricken futility of a child losing his grip on a balloon. Once the air claims that rainbow shot, the ball ascends high enough to seem apart from a defense that really must seem so tiny from Spalding’s lofty perspective.
It’s a funny kind of dominance that Stephen Curry can exert on occasion. He’s not especially fast, tall, or strong. But his release is blink-quick, and the ball flies high. When Tyson Chandler tried to close out on Curry, the shot appeared to zoom right through Tyson’s arm like a video game glitch. On replay, last year’s DPOY was actually just too slow of limb to get there in time.
This was the three that landed Stephen Curry on his butt, after he unleashed moves that turned Raymond Felton into Portland Raymond Felton. It was a shot hunt, and a heat check. But with Curry, he has the ability to warp the concept of “bad shot.” Wednesday night showcased that talent. Wednesday night was special.
Wait a second…the Warriors LOST? Whatever.