Why is it Impossible to Hate Steph Curry?

By Zack Boehm on March 3, 2016

By every statistical index, Steph Curry is having a historically great season. His numbers are categorically unreal, shooting 52% from the field, a staggering 47% from three, and 91% from the line, and even these numbers are dwarfed by the herculean streak he’s been enjoying in his last ten games, where he’s averaging 38 points (!!!) with 6.7 made three pointers and 7.3 assists. He has already shattered his own record for three-point field goals in a season (with 286 and counting) and he has recently claimed the record for most consecutive games with a three-point field goal (128…and counting).

But what’s truly astounding about Curry’s recent play is that quantification, even with unprecedented numbers like these, doesn’t seem to do it justice. Watching him play is visceral and exhilarating, in that very specific and sublime way that sport can sometimes be as moving and evocative as great art or drama.

Steph is not, by any means, the first athlete to reach this kind of apotheosis, but there does seem to be something different about his ascendancy, something fundamental that distinguishes it from the rise of other dominant athletes like LeBron or Tom Brady. Namely, that it seems impossible to hate Steph Curry.

Why is Steph not subjected to the unmitigated popular rancor that LeBron endured? Why is he not loathed and decried by opposing fans in the same way as Tom Brady? Why is his comprehensive dominance not seen as boring or predictable like that of peak Roger Federer? Here are a few reasons why Steph has been able to retain the ardor of the public as he inscribes his name in the history books.

Steph Curry Looks like Us

In general, professional athletes, who devote their lives to pushing the boundaries of human physiological potential, look very little like the rest of us. LeBron James’ physique is objectively ludicrous—he looks more basketball android than basketball player. Kevin Durant stands at a towering 6’9” but has the dexterity and electric quickness of a prodigious child acrobat. Athletes like Tom Brady and Cristiano Ronaldo, when they’re not decimating hallowed records and revolutionizing their respective sports, run in Victoria Secret supermodel circles. These superhumans fill a kind of cultural vacuum once occupied by Olympians or great mythologized warriors, and compared to them, Steph seems very much an everyman.

At an unassuming 6’3”, 190 lbs, with a comparatively slight build and goofy facial hair, Steph resembles Us in a way that we rarely see in professional athletes, especially athletes who have reached the pinnacle of their sport.

Steph Curry Has Only Played for One Team

Much of the rampant LeBron hate can be traced directly back to his decision to ditch Cleveland and take his talents to South Beach; a move which, by all accounts, worked out tremendously for him personally and professionally, but which also saw him recast as the NBA’s treacherous and disloyal arch-villain. James’ two championships and four successive finals appearances in Miami was, for many, not validation of his decision, but further evidence that he was a cunning and calculated Machiavelli. Steph has no such stigma to overcome

Drafted by the Warriors when they were floundering and maligned, Curry has been a dedicated servant to the franchise, and is rightly seen as a principal force in their rise from mediocrity and managerial ineptitude. Where the perception is that LeBron had to relocate to an established franchise to find success, the Curry narrative is one of building something phenomenally successful from the ground up, with dedication, grit, and flair. America eats that kind of thing right up.

Steph Curry is Beautiful to Watch

Stephen Curry is diminutive. He’s skinny. By NBA standards, he’s an average athlete. This means that he’s had to, essentially, invent an entirely new way to play the game of basketball. This forced adaption has lead Curry to develop a truly novel style play, one that can’t readily be compared, say, to the brute irrepressible force of LeBron, the collected, surgical intelligence of Chris Paul, or the nuclear combustive energy of Russel Westbrook. Curry’s movements on the court are bounding and balletic, improvised but always startlingly precise. He handles the ball like it’s another extremity, constantly responding to the rapid synaptic firings in his brain. He is elegant but impossibly compact, the way that he process spatial information in nanoseconds allows him to create shots from positions where other players would be totally bereft. He shoots from absurd distances with an efficiency that can’t be simulated in even the most generous video games. He has a demure confidence and carriage that will be emulated by generations of disciples. His name, like “Kobe,” has become a noun, adjective, and exclamation. Watching him feels like watching something transformative, because that’s exactly what it is.

And, Importantly, Riley Curry

Zack Boehm is an English Literature student from Florida State University. He is a gluttonous consumer of culture.

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