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Stephen Curry, Who Built Himself Back to Glory: The NBA Personality of the Year

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in December, the athlete The coaches, athletes, and other personalities who have had the greatest impact in the American sports we cover, as well as in the areas of sports business, media, and culture, will be highlighted. Next in the series is Honor’s NBA: Stephen Currywho drove at the age of 34 Golden State Warriors to their fourth title in eight seasons and won their first NBA Finals MVP award. The full schedule is here.

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This NBA Finals 4 moment now belongs in the annals of legends. He deserves a little piece in the mosaic Celtics bastards. Stephen Curry, after drilling a three-pointer in the first quarter, took the opportunity to tackle his opponent. Muscles flex, veins pop, his forehead scratches, and his beard resembles a cleaning board in this serious tantrum. No. 30 issued a threat—no, a promise—to the Boston crowd.

“This will be a different game.”

His taunts are usually more playful in nature. This time, there was no need to worry about his intentions. For this game, the momentum was different. Adversity was different. The challenge, even the context, was different. Curry was different.

“My mom got mad at me for my word choice,” he told JJ Redick on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast in November. And I was like, ‘You’re right. But I was just unleashing a different level, like, ‘Here I am. we are here.’ … It required another level of response from us. For me, I wanted to drive that.”

It was a demonstration, of his signature game, of a decisive victory, in what was a legendary season. Curry put the Warriors back on top, captured their fourth NBA title, won their first Finals MVP, and translated into highs as he continued to get stronger. The 15 pounds of muscle he’s added over the years is proof that Curry’s body is catching up to his mentality. This combination allowed Carey to – the athlete2022 NBA Personality of the Year – A chance to do what he couldn’t do for a long time: impose his will. on the defenses. Unlike. over a period of moments.

The Warriors cannot be seen and Curry’s fingerprints are not seen throughout the game. In the 2022 playoffs, he left a mark.

This wasn’t the birth of a thing, though. It was the culmination, the fulfillment of an obsession. The fruits of years of deliberate work. Carrie went to work. Years of discipline, commitment and advanced training went towards molding himself into his vision.

The result is that the peak of his career is extended, and the peak of that time is elevated. The greatest shooter of all time, whose career-long 3-point crown still holds a fresh luster, already had exceptional skill and a mountain of experience. The physique was the finishing touch, a manifestation of his maniacal drive.

He’s by no means a bull, still relatively young in the Giants league. But he is not being pushed around like he did before. He makes some push.

“He’s ripped,” Steve Kerr said last month. “He used to look like your little brother there. And now you just rip him off and he gets right through contact. He finishes better than I’ve ever seen him finish. People try to attack him defensively – because that’s what you do, you try to wear him down to the offensive end. I just don’t I see people going through it anymore. So he’s taken a stand. And he’s just, physically, he’s so different now.”

said Carey Its shape does not matter. His body sculpting was not a pursuit of vanity. He wanted it to be more physical, more explosive, and more durable. He wanted to resist the resistance he faced in all its forms. He wanted to push his greatness in the face of his haters.

He never forgot the problems he had with pressing the ball, when he needed the referee to protect him. He never forgot the bigger and taller sports teams would put him on, or the aggressive double teams that would knock him off his feet. He never forgot how the players tried to spread him, and how the opponents sought to push him into space to embarrass him. He never forgot how many considered him the spectators of his first three champions, the product of a system that created a dynasty, not on par with even the modern greats, let alone the all-time champions.


In Game 4 of this year’s NBA Finals, losing 2-1 to the Celtics, Curry had one of the best games of his long playoff career, scoring 43 points and leading the Warriors to victory. Golden State never lost again. (Elsa / Getty Images)

This was the year he was no longer deprived. Curry took the respect his resume deserved. It would only have been taken by force.

This is why Curry ranks Game 4 against Boston as his favorite. The Warriors are down 2-1 in the series and facing a horrific hole. He sprained his foot at the end of Game 3, which reminds me of his old fragility. It was crowded out by older, more athletic players, especially youngsters. He was playing in a hostile enough environment for him to get a taste. In addition to his colleagues need him. Draymond Green He was struggling and singing New England poison. Clay Thompson It’s been two years of hell to get back to the highest level. Andrew WigginsAnd the Jordan PaulAnd the Otto Porter JrAnd the Gary Payton II – they were all getting their first taste, and only Curry could give it to them.

This game requires a different kind of energy. The kind that wreaks havoc as much as the weather.

He was able to accomplish largely due to a series of unfortunate events in the previous years. In 2019, he broke a bone in his hand which kept him out of action for just over four months. He returned and played one game on March 5, 2020. Then the pandemic forced the league to close. The Warriors were not invited to the bubble, so Curry’s season came to an end. He will have 292 days between matches, until the next season begins on December 22, 2020.

He and his personal trainer, Brandon Payne, founder of Carolina-based Accelerate Basketball, used it as a reset period. They managed to do more than they normally would in the two months between finals and training camp. First and foremost, the mental break was crucial. Five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals drain the soul as much as the ligaments.

“People don’t understand how taxing five years in a row the Finals are,” Payne said.

It sat for four months with a broken hand plus nine months of shutdown gave it more than a year to replenish the power supply. He had time to miss the game and longed to return to it, which is essential to Payne’s work.

Working with the Warriors’ performance director, Carl Bergstrom, they devised a plan to rejuvenate Curry. can be comprehensive.

“We’ve had this extended period of time,” Payne continued. “So we can refocus mechanically. We can add some things from a space creation standpoint. We can look and see what teams have done to us over the last couple of years, and start developing some individual strategies for how you attack things. Physically, we can really get organized and start in taking a year-round approach to what he does.”

A big part of it was resetting Carrey’s mechanics. The broken bone in his left hand had lingering traces. He still felt like he wasn’t feeling him all the way through, pushing the ball further into his shot. They were able to take their time and process that and other elements of his shot, the minute details that get lost in the grind of chasing titles.

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Another area they’ve covered is recovery. They’ve refined his techniques, added more updated techniques to his routine, and analyzed some of the patterns he’s learning about his body and possibly others he might expect. Curry even built a professional fitness suite in his home, including an infrared sauna and contrast therapy cold tub.

Back in 2011, when Curry began working with Payne, the short-term goal was to overcome ankle problems. But in the long run, Curry wanted to be prepared for the end. He remembers the last years of his father’s career. He was only a middle schooler when Del Curry played his last two seasons in Toronto. But he remembers the work it took for his father to get ready to play. The daily treadmill for recovery. Careful intensification is required to prepare his body for the intensity of the NBA. The loss it all caused.

Curry knew he didn’t want that for the back end of his career. So he and Payne started preparing for the day he lost a step. The plan was to make him very fast in his handling and efficient in his movement, which would limit the effect of any physical deterioration, and perhaps even neutralize him. Neurocognitive work, elite conditioning, and flexibility training are designed to make him think faster and make more accurate decisions. They’ve been at it for over a decade.

“I wasn’t thinking that at 34, he’d still be faster,” said Payne. “Nobody would have thought even then that when he was 35, he would be stronger and move faster and better than when he was 23, 24. It’s kind of crazy.”

Athletes’ primes are the sweet spots in their careers when their experience, IQ, and IQ—which theoretically increase with years of playing—match their physical peak, last for a long time, and then decline. They are between the ages of 27 and 32 in basketball. But Carey’s physical peak came after that. It’s a late bloomer, says Payne, that acquires the strength of a mature man later. Not only did this widen his window of greatness, but it also changed the Warriors’ franchise. Golden State had plans to transfer, but Curry basically blew those plans by being the elite beyond an age anyone would expect him to be.

His peak should have passed him. It was supposed to be his best day last year. But the id in Carey resisted that notion. He imposed his will at the same time, avoiding her corrupt intent. So that he could stage the greatest performance of his life. So he can spend the season that no one imagined. so that he can bend.

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(Illustration: Sean Riley / the athlete; photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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