Stephen Curry has heard the criticism. He’s conscious his legacy is being questioned, and he is aware of that any unhealthy recreation will begin once more the reconsideration of his accomplishments. However after scoring a career-high 62 factors for the Golden State Warriors in a 137-122 win over the Portland Path Blazers on Sunday evening, Curry despatched a transparent message to his critics: Hold speaking.
“I like being talked about as a result of there’s expectations,” he mentioned.
Curry’s career-best efficiency got here in a matchup with one in every of his largest on-court rivals — Damian Lillard of Portland — and on the heels of a storm of social media criticism through which his legacy as a team-lifting celebrity was referred to as into query.
“Cue the Jordan meme: ‘I take all that personally,’” Curry mentioned with amusing, referencing a line by Michael Jordan within the documentary “The Final Dance.”
Curry then defined that the efficiency — he had 31 factors at halftime — got here from a a lot less complicated place than folks could be assuming: “I had a possibility to claim my will on the sport early and create some power.”
Asserting his will included taking pictures 18 of 31 from the sector, eight of 16 from 3-point vary and 18 of 19 from the free-throw line. Curry turned the primary participant since Kobe Bryant on Dec. 20, 2005 to attain not less than 30 factors in every half of a recreation, and he bettered his earlier profession excessive of 54 factors, which was set in a street loss to the Knicks in 2013.
His 62 factors additionally have been essentially the most by any participant this season and made him solely the fifth participant in franchise historical past to attain 60 or extra factors, a feat final completed by Klay Thompson, who had 60 in 29 minutes throughout a blowout win over the Indiana Pacers in 2016.
“He got here out wanting like a person on a mission,” Draymond Inexperienced mentioned.
Thompson welcomed Curry to the 60-point membership with a tweet, and Curry’s youthful brother, Seth, who performs for the Philadelphia 76ers, took the chance to poke enjoyable at Stephen’s critics, who appear to show practically each recreation right into a referendum on his legacy.
Curry mentioned his brother’s tweet was the perfect one he’d seen up to now and that criticism was simply a part of being a celebrity.
“I don’t get frazzled too simply and I’m very assured in who I’m as an individual and as a basketball participant,” he mentioned. “There’s not going to be something you possibly can say about me or to me that’s going to have an effect on that. On the finish of the day that’s how I acquired right here.”
Whereas Curry has performed effectively early this season, averaging 32.Three factors and 6.2 assists by means of six video games, there isn’t a query that the Warriors are a far cry from the juggernaut once led by Curry, Thompson, Green and Kevin Durant. Golden State opened the season with blowout losses to Durant’s Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, and regarded inept in a loss to Portland on Friday. Whereas their poor play has come largely from newcomers like Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre, a heavy share of the blame has landed squarely on the shoulders of Curry, the Warriors’ greatest participant. His most persistent critics have questioned why he can’t raise a lesser workforce to relevance in the best way LeBron James has accomplished.
Inexperienced, who not too long ago returned from an damage, rejected that premise.
“All people is at all times going to attempt to discover a cause to nitpick one thing Steph does, whether or not it’s that you just haven’t received a Finals M.V.P. otherwise you haven’t carried a workforce,” Inexperienced mentioned. “If I’m not mistaken, he carried the 2015 workforce.”
“To be sincere, he’s carried each workforce, as a result of he’s been the chief of the group since I’ve been right here.”
Lots of Curry’s youthful teammates weren’t with Golden State through the championship years. They have been left struggling to explain such a dominant efficiency.
James Wiseman, the workforce’s rookie heart, in contrast it to a online game. “It jogs my memory of 2K,” he mentioned, “as a result of I used to play with Steph on a regular basis, and I used to drop like 60. So, identical to really watching in particular person, that was phenomenal.”
Oubre, a veteran guard acquired through the low season to assist fill in for the injured Thompson, introduced the attitude of getting been one in every of Curry’s opponents, saying “I used to be simply joyful to be on the identical aspect as him tonight, as a result of I do know it stunk for the opposite workforce.”
Curry declined to foretell if big-scoring video games would change into an everyday incidence. However he objected to a reporter’s saying he couldn’t rating 62 factors each recreation, playfully responding “Hey, why not?”
And Coach Steve Kerr, who mentioned he had lifted Curry within the recreation’s last minute “so the 42 folks within the stands may give him a standing ovation,” mentioned he was perplexed why anybody would criticize Curry within the first place.
“I’m not enjoying dumb: Does he actually take criticism?” Kerr requested. “I’ll take a look at Twitter later. I hope they’re saying one thing good about him tonight.”