|Stephen Curry / A unique combination of talent and humility.|
Watching Stephen Curry win the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award this week -- the league's highest honor -- reminded me of the values of shooting, screening, cutting and passing he's shown throughout what has been a truly remarkable season. Curry, who stars for the Golden State Warriors, my hometown team, was the best player on basketball's best team.
Curry, the Warriors' first MVP since Wilt Chamberlain won in 1960, is a sharpshooting guard on a team that won a league-best 67 of 82 regular season games and is 5-1 in the playoffs so far. He is part of a very deep and very well-coached team, the marquee player that Golden State has built its team around.
Curry's memorable season statistics were dazzling and reflected his value to his team. He was sixth in the league in scoring (23.8 points per game), sixth in assists (7.7 per game ), third in three-point shooting (44.3 percent), first in free-throw shooting (91.4 percent), and fourth in steals (2.04 per game).
At a press conference in an Oakland, Calif. ballroom in front of about 500 friends, family and teammates on Monday, the diminutive (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) Curry shared the lessons that perseverance, faith and confidence played. He took the time to thank each of his teammates individually in his MVP speech and choked up when he talked about his father, former NBA guard Dell Curry, as his role model.
Among the words which Curry's Warrior teammates used to describe him: genuine. And Steve Kerr, his coach, called Curry a unique combination of talent and humility. "The way he carries himself, his demeanor," said Kerr.
Curry said he would donate his MVP prize car to the East Oakland Youth Development Center.
Among the highlights of Curry's speech, which focused on the importance of team:
"We’ll remember this year no matter how it finishes, really. But we have a huge goal in mind this year, and we’ll be able to talk about it for years to come.
"Every time we think of this moment we’ll talk about it and moments that hopefully will happen in a couple of months, it will all mean so much to us. How much sacrifice we’ve put into it, how much work, just the consistency that it takes to get to where we are. It takes all 14 guys. You can’t have one bad apple in this equation, and we don’t.
"So we’re truly grateful. I’m grateful to have this team behind me. This is not possible without you guys. I want everybody to get a fingerprint on that so I can remember who I rolled with during this year, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.
"All right. I’ve been long‑winded, but this is the last part. I’ve talked about faith, passion, and the drive with the guys that I’ve been around and the guys that surround me every single day. But a part of that is having the will to succeed. Knowing that you’ve put the work in and have the confidence to let it show. What I tell people is be the best version of yourself in anything that you do.
"You don’t have to live anybody else’s story. Sometimes people make it seem like you have to have certain prerequisites or a crazy life story in order to be successful in this world. But the truth is you really don’t. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have or don’t have, what you lack or what you have too much of, but all you need to have is faith in God, an undying passion for what you do and what you choose to do in this life, and a relentless drive and the will to do whatever it takes to be successful in whatever you put your mind to."
Finally, after nearly 40 minutes, Curry summed up his speech by sharing a bit of advice and wisdom from the heart:
"Make sure you live in the moment and work your butt off every single day, and I hope I inspire people all around the world to just be themselves, be humble, and be grateful for all the blessings in your life. I’m truly honored to be your MVP this year. Thank you very much."