Kevin Durant has turned himself into the best player in the NBA for two consecutive postseasons. He was playing at the same high level this year before he went down with an injury. The focal point of the Warriors’ offense is closer to his right hand than Stephen Curry’s. This, of course, is exactly what Golden State envisioned when it brought Durant in to make a superteam even more super. Fill the court with elite playmakers and watch opponents get spread too thin to defend.
But it’s tough for people to enjoy nice things. They view success too often as a zero-sum game. Durant’s ascendence had to be indicative of Curry’s descent, they thought. The more ridiculous wing actually said that the former was carrying the latter.
This morning? Well, God willing those people will keep their computers and mouths shut.
Curry has done nothing but play like the best player in the world since Durant went down. After scoring 33 second-half points in the series-clincher against Houston, the former MVP dropped 36 against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Curry went 9-for-15 from behind the arc, erasing any hope with the lightning-quick flick of a wrist. He added seven assists and six rebounds. His confidence exuded through every movement. He simply looked like he was having way more fun than anyone else.
It was as if he turned back the clock ever so slightly to a time not long ago when he was The Man. His masterful performance reminded those with short memories that he’s more than capable of shouldering the load.
Curry does not need to be carried. He’s willing to let others shine. That’s not a weakness. That’s a strength.
When backs are against the wall and chips are down, the diminutive assassin steps up. He’s a cold-blooded killer who can carry a team to a championship. There are times he’s the second fiddle, but he still has the No. 1 gun.
Durant will soon be back. The two will continue to play in concert, creating beautiful music and likely breezing to a third consecutive title. They’ll share the load and the success one more time before Durant rides off into the sunset.
Then, once again, this will be Curry’s team. And anyone who thinks his shoulders have gotten weaker hasn’t been paying attention.