Growing up in England, football has always been at the forefront in terms of sports I loved and played on a frequent basis.
At the tender age of four, I kicked my first football in a park in Croydon with my older brother and his school friends.
At the time I spoke very little English, but I knew what it meant when the ball trickled in the net and my brothers friend yelled “GOALLLL!”
Some 18 years on, football continues plays a major part in my life as an Arsenal and Barcelona fan, dictating my moods in any given week.
However in 2014, basketball began to capture my imagination thanks to Stephen Curry – an NBA star constantly likened to the great Lionel Messi and this year surpassing him as the most watched athlete on YouTube.
Known as Steph, Curry was chosen seventh overall in 2009 NBA Draft of college players and such has been his impact with the Golden State Warriors that he’s being viewed as the greatest shooter in NBA history.
Against the Orlando Magic, Curry managed to shoot a three-pointer in his 128th consecutive match, a new NBA record. I was stayed up late to watch that game live on TV and witness history.
Social media rarely paints a vivid enough picture; I needed to see if the 30-second clips were a true reflection of his game throughout an entire match. I grew more and more confused each time every crazy scoring attempt smoothly entered the hoop. How can he be so accurate, is what I kept asking myself.
Curry dropped an amazing 51 points that night and capped it off with a 44ft shot after some neat handling right on the buzzer. The moment went viral all over social media, and it felt similar to Messi’s moment of genius that saw Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng sprawled in a tangled heap on the floor.
My only previous interest in basketball was a fleeting one in Philadelphia 76ers legendary point guard Allen Iverson, who himself was a very good three-point shooter.
But this is different. Before Curry’s phenomenal performances, I cared less about the rules of the game. In school I often double dribbled and never understood what I did wrong.
The reigning MVP has more to his game than his superhuman shooting ability. His elegant hand-eye coordination and vision on the court is a sight to behold and many non-basketball fans I know are now also staying up late to watch the genius in action.
Curry has already been named by pundits and other key figures of the sport, past and present as the all-time greatest shooter, the levels of excellence he has reached in the past three seasons have never been seen before and he consistently shocks fans with his talent.
No one-man show
Last season, he led the Warriors to their first-ever NBA championship. Curry and team-mate Klay Thompson are known as the ‘Splash Brothers’ and, along with powerhouse Draymond Green, have become the face of the Warriors franchise.
Some have compared them to the legendary Chicago Bulls trio of Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Denis Rodman.
Although the aforementioned trio get all the headlines, the supporting cast at the Warriors is full of players who are skilful and possess their own clutch-worthy moments.
In last year’s finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was none other than Andre Iguadalo who was voted MVP. Shaun Livingstone who’s a league veteran also comes up with moments of magic whilst the stars of the team are on the bench.
There’s something about Curry and his fellow Warriors that exudes excellence. Every time I watch them, I feel like they are going to win, and based on current form they could end up beating the Bulls’ 72-10 regular season win-loss record from the 95-96 season. The Warriors are currently 61-6.
Curry has given me the same excitement I felt at six years old when I first managed to do 20 keepie-uppies, the same excitement I felt when I was given my first Arsenal top. He has created a bond with basketball for me that I didn’t imagine I would have with any other sport besides football.
I feel if the Warriors are able to retain their title, Curry will go down as one of the best all-round players the sport has seen. I now not only root for Golden State but actually watch other basketball games too.
This summer I will find the nearest court and definitely be trying out my best impressions of the Warriors point guard – and hopefully not double dribbling.
Image courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr Creative Commons