Courtesy of Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry has been called the best shooter in the NBA and it's hard to argue against that.
He's a two-time MVP and the owner of three NBA championship rings. But since he only played in five games last season for a Warriors team that was 15-50 (which is the fewest wins in franchise history), the critics have become more vociferous.
Curry decided it was time to let his play do the talking for him.
So on a Sunday night against the rival Portland Trailblazers, Curry scored a career-high 62 points making 18-of-31 shots, 8-of-16 from 3-point range and 18-of-19 from the line.
"I got a lot left in the tank and just thankful to God that I'm healthy," Curry said. "To be out there playing, enjoying the game that I love and surprising myself from time to time. It's pretty awesome to have a night like this."
Ironically one complaint was that Curry missed a free throw early in the first quarter ending his streak of consecutive free throws at 80.
Even when you have a historic night, there's always someone who isn't satisfied. It's silly but there is always a glass half-full mentality when talking sports. Hard to believe that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had their critics too and I'm sure you can find that the critics were there for Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and the other legendary greats of the National Basketball Association.
Consistency is the key to greatness and it's a fact that Curry has had problems with that because of injuries. Staying healthy has always been a challenge for any athlete and there are historically some players who failed to reach that level of greatness because of their lack of playing time.
Probably the only complaint this reporter has of his performance was the timing of it. COVID-19 has been the biggest opponent for anyone, whether you like sports or not. Due to the pandemic, Chase Center was virtually empty and only 42 "fans" consisting of family and close friends were there in the stands while a selected number of media, including yours truly, was lucky enough to witness history. As my friend Mayra told me, "Does it really matter when nobody could see it?" She has a point and that's the biggest travesty of all.
Curry is an athlete but more importantly he's an entertainer. Singers use a microphone, actors use a stage, and Curry uses a basketball. But the one thing they all have in common is an audience and that was mostly taken away from Curry. Perhaps the fact that there were only 100 or so individuals that witnessed it live and not 19,000 or so in some ways makes the accomplishment more incredible.
Actors feed off the audience. They need the energy and noise. Athletes are no different and another complaint as to why sports can be argued that they're needed more than ever to give people a distraction from the bleak news of the day which continues to be the loss of life and businesses that have declared bankruptcy and shuddered their doors.
I feel very lucky to be amongst the dozen or so reporters allowed in. We all had to get tested for COVID-19 and negative of course for us to gain entry into Chase Center. I will not lie, after Curry scored 40 points in the third quarter I was fixated on his every possession. He made it clear after three quarters with 45 points, I knew he had a chance to drop 60.
The game was quite competitive and the Blazers kept it within ten points until Curry pulled away. After tying his career high and then surpassing it with four free throws, he was at 56 points. Curry then made a triple from the top of the key and with two defenders on him inside the final minute, Curry threw up a really difficult attempt but it swished through the net as though he was shooting a set jumper.
It was a game I'll never forget and one of the top ten moments for me over 22 years of covering sports since I began regularly reporting in 1998. But it was unfortunate that more weren't there to witness it in person but since I wasn't there for Klay Thompson's 37 points in the third quarter or his 60-point effort against the Pacers, I'll take it.
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Oklahoma City Thunder Point Guard Chris Paul after their 100-97 win over the Warriors at the Chase Center on November 25, 2019.
Portland Trail Blazers Point Guard Damian Lillard after their 127-118 loss to the Warriors at the Chase Center on November 4, 2019.
Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard after their 141-122 win over the Warriors in the first-ever regular season game at the Chase Center on October 24, 2019.