Steph Curry turns 35, carrying weight of Warriors’ hopes on his shoulders
SAN FRANCISCO — Donte DiVincenzo was a Stephen Curry hater before this season.
It was nothing personal, he assures. It was resentment born from respect. Curry’s quickness and skill give even the league’s most dogged defenders trouble. It’s why teams often double- or triple-team him just to try to slow his roll.
“I really didn’t like him when I wasn’t here. I had to chase him all around the court,” DiVincenzo said. “He was quiet, I didn’t understand him at all… but when I got here, he’s amazing.”
After years of cowering in fear whenever Curry launched a shot, now DiVincenzo gets to watch in awe and reap the rewards.
“It’s fun to watch,” he said of his teammate’s sweet shooting. “Sometimes I’m looking at some of the shots and I’m like, ‘There’s no way’ and they don’t even touch the rim. Every time it leaves his hand, I think it’s good.”
Curry has shown no signs of taking his foot off the gas in his 14th NBA season. He’s still willing the Warriors to necessary wins amid a subpar title defense. But with the postseason on the horizon and Golden State’s spot not yet a lock, the question arises: Can Curry, who turned 35 on Tuesday, do his heaviest lifting yet?
Curry has set out to do what few have accomplished. He and the rest of the Warriors eye the franchise’s fifth title in nine years. The Warriors have yet to win more than five straight games this season. The NBA world is waiting for them to make a run, but with 13 games remaining, it seems unlikely that will come this regular season.
Still, the Warriors have maintained that, when healthy and complete, no team stands a chance against them in a seven-game series. The Warriors will need Curry to deliver his absolute best if they want to turn their words into action come the postseason.
All signs point to Curry being able to do just that.
Curry has managed to extend his prime into his mid-30s because of his ever-changing, year-round training regimen.
Coach Steve Kerr has lauded Curry as “the best-conditioned athlete that I’ve ever been around in the NBA.”
Even better than Michael Jordan? It appears so.
“There’s just no one who combines the work ethic, with the skillset and the ability to put all that together in this package of incredible endurance and quickness” like Curry, Kerr said.
Curry missed a month of action due to injury twice this season. He partially dislocated his shoulder in December, then damaged two ligaments in his lower leg in February.
Despite the significant layoffs, Curry didn’t skip a beat in either of his returns.
Curry entered Monday averaging 29.8 points per game — the third-best scoring average of his career — while shooting 49.6% from the field, 43.3% from deep and 92.4% from the free throw line. That puts him just shy of hitting the 50-40-90 marks for a second time in his career, a feat only Steve Nash and Larry Bird have accomplished.
Curry is also tallying 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game this season. Only LeBron James has averaged at least 25/6/6 in any season played over the age of 34.
Draymond Green, who turned 33 earlier this month, joked that he’s not in a position to give anyone a hard time about age – not even his longtime teammate.
“Old is what you make it,” Green said. “If you go out with an old mindset, you’re gonna look old, I don’t think he goes out with an old mindset, I don’t think he approaches his day-to-day with an old mindset.”
And Curry has attacked this season “better than I’ve ever seen him approach it before,” Green said.
“He’s locked in, true pro, he gets it. It’s showing up in his game that at the age of 35… he’s still able to do it at that level night in and night out with no signs of slowing down.”
The Warriors are tied for the league’s second-fewest road wins this season. Still, fans across the league have shown up in droves, sometimes hours before tipoff, clinging to No. 30 jerseys and markers.
No matter the city, no matter the day of the week, they’re there to watch a generational talent in motion.
A chorus of cheers rings through the arena almost like an alarm warning those in attendance that the Curry warmup show is about to begin.
DiVincenzo isn’t so new to the circus at this point in the season, but it doesn’t get any less impressive seeing the crowd his once foe-turned-teammate draws. The 26-year-old guard in his first season with Golden State likened the Warriors to a boy band, with Curry as the lead singer and star of the show, with everyone else filling important roles to play a beautiful tune.
“I’m really glad I’m on his side now,” DiVincenzo said.
No one knows for certain how long the show will run. Curry will do everything in his power to play as long as he can.
Earlier this season, Curry said he’s “stubborn enough to think I can do this for a lot more years.” These playoffs, just a few short weeks away with a team that has struggled all season to find a winning rhythm, are just the latest test for that plan.
Between Curry’s work ethic, competitive drive and love for the game, Klay Thompson previously suggested his Splash Brother could play at this level until he’s 40. Curry agreed.
“I can get to that point where I still feel like 25-year-old self out there so just the mindfulness of what it takes to get your recovery,” Curry said. “You have to embrace it and accept it and have fun with it because it is a lot of work, it’s not glorious at all. Maintain that, I have a lot more years left in me.”