For professional basketball players, ranking their NBA championships in order of preference is probably a lot like ranking their children.
Each ring is equally important, but it’s also fair to say that the context in which each was won is completely different and evokes unique memories and emotions for the athlete.
Stephen Curry has won 3 championships with the Golden State Warriors and has obviously gone through various challenges to win each.
During his appearance on the Bill Simmons HBO special “Courtside at the NBA Finals,” Simmons asked Curry to rank his 3 championships in order of the most fun he had winning them to the least fun he had.
This question deftly sidesteps the dilemma of an athlete being forced to rank something so crucial and cherished. Each championship is loved, but sometimes the journey towards that goal is easier or more tumultuous relative to the others.
Once a player has won 3 championships, they have a pretty good sense of the types of challenges to expect on the way.
Curry said that he thought the most fun championship was in 2015 since it was his first, and that 2017 was the second most fun because they won in front of their home fans in Oakland.
Curry ultimately went in chronological order in ranking the most fun championships, which is both expected given the context of each as well as somewhat melancholy.
The joy of first crossing the championship threshold is incomparable to anything else a player achieves in the league. 2015 is special in that way.
That leaves 2017 and 2018 to compete for being the second most fun, and 2017 definitely seems like it was more fun for reasons beyond just winning it in Oakland.
The Warriors absolutely dominated that 2017 postseason, going 16-1 and never being seriously challenged by any opponent.
The lack of relative stress in winning a championship is going to make the postseason journey more enjoyable for the players.
2018 has been designated by multiple figures within the organization as by far the most challenging season of this team’s dynasty run.
Having to win a game 7 on the road in the Western Conference Finals is not a very fun task to have to be forced to accomplish.
That anxiety combined with a regular season that presented itself with a significant amount of adversity understandably makes 2018 the least fun.
It’s a bit sad and discouraging for Curry that each championship season has been progressively less fun for him, though.
It’s unclear what the psychological effects of that grind are going to have on him as he seeks to win more championships going forward.
It’s important to separate “fun” from “rewarding,” though. Accomplishments can be rewarding even if they lack a distinct sense of enjoyment.
An interesting way that Simmons could have altered this question to reveal yet another profound insight from Curry is to ask him to rank his championships in order of the ones he’s most proud of.
It would be fascinating to hear if Curry is more proud of the ones that were less fun than the others because it took a different type of tenacity and determination to accomplish them.
Curry is an extremely thoughtful individual, and it’s always compelling to hear how he views his achievements out on the court.