SAN FRANCISCO — Donte DiVincenzo was a Stephen Curry hater before this season.
It was nothing personal, he guarantees. It was resentment born of respect. Curry’s quickness and skill causes problems for even the most die-hard defenders in the league. That’s why teams often double or triple it just to try and slow it down.
“I really didn’t like him when he wasn’t here. I had to chase him all over the court,” DiVincenzo said. “He was quiet, I didn’t understand anything about him… but when I got here, he’s amazing.”
After years of cowering in fear whenever Curry fired a shot, now DiVincenzo watches in awe and reaps the rewards.
“It’s fun to watch,” he said of his teammate’s sweet kick. “Sometimes I’m looking at some of the shots and I’m like, ‘There’s no way’ and they don’t even hit the rim. Every time it leaves his hand, I feel good.”
Curry showed no signs of taking his foot off the gas in his 14th season in the NBA. He’s still longing for the Warriors to pick up the necessary wins amidst a subpar title defense. But with the postseason on the horizon and Golden State’s spot not yet secured, the question arises: Can Curry, who turned 35 on Tuesday, do his heaviest lift?
Curry set out to do what few could. He and the rest of the Warriors are looking for their fifth title in nine years. The Warriors have yet to win more than five straight games this season. The NBA world is waiting for them to make a run, but with 13 games left, that seems unlikely to happen this regular season.
Still, the Warriors maintain that when healthy and complete, no team has a chance against them in a seven-game series. The Warriors will need Curry to do his best if they want to turn his words into action in the postseason.
All signs point to Curry being able to do just that.
Curry was able to extend his prime into his 30s because of his ever-changing year-round training regimen.
Coach Steve Kerr praised Curry as “the best conditioned athlete I’ve ever seen in the NBA”.
Even better than Michael Jordan? It seems so.
“There is simply no one who combines the work ethic with the skill set and the ability to put it all together in this package of incredible strength and speed” like Curry, Kerr said.
Curry has missed a month of action due to injuries twice this season. He partially dislocated his shoulder in December and damaged two ligaments in his leg in February.
Despite the significant layoffs, Curry hasn’t missed a beat on any of his returns.
Curry entered Monday averaging 29.8 points per game – the third best scoring average of his career – on 49.6% shooting from the field, 43.3% from depth and 92.4% from the line. free throw. That puts him close to hitting the 50-40-90 mark for the second time in his career, a feat only Steve Nash and Larry Bird have achieved.
Curry is also recording 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game this season. Only LeBron James has averaged at least 25/6/6 in any season played over the age of 34.
Draymond Green, who turned 33 earlier this month, joked that he is in no position to bother anyone with his age – not even his longtime teammate.
“Old is what you make it,” Green said. “If you go out with an old-school mindset, it’s going to look old, I don’t think he goes out with an old-timey mindset, I don’t think he approaches everyday life with an old-timey mindset.”
And Curry has attacked this season “better than ever before,” Green said.
“He’s stuck, true professional, he understands. It’s showing in his game at 35…he’s still capable of doing it at that level night after night with no signs of slowing down.”
The Warriors are tied for the second fewest away wins in the league this season. Still, fans from across the league showed up in droves, sometimes hours before the game, clutching their number 30 jerseys and markers.
No matter the city, no matter the day of the week, they are there to watch a generation of talent on the move.
A chorus of applause echoes through the arena almost like an alarm warning those in attendance that Curry’s warm-up show is about to begin.
DiVincenzo isn’t all that new to the circus at this point in the season, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive to see the crowd his once enemy-turned-teammate draws. The 26-year-old guard in his first season at Golden State likened the Warriors to a boy band, with Curry as lead singer and star of the show, with everyone else playing key roles to deliver beautiful music.
“I’m really happy to be on his side now,” DiVincenzo said.
Nobody knows for sure how long the show will last. Curry will do everything in his power to play as much as he can.
Earlier this season, Curry said he is “stubborn enough to think I can do this for many more years”. These playoffs, just weeks away from a team that has struggled all season to find a winning rhythm, are just the latest test for that plan.
Between Curry’s work ethic, competitive drive, and love of the game, Klay Thompson has previously hinted that his Splash Brother could play at that level well into their 40s. Curry agreed.
“I can get to that point where I still feel like a 25-year-old me, so just the attention to what it takes to get your recovery going,” Curry said. “You have to embrace it and accept it and have fun because it’s a lot of work, it’s nothing glorious. Keep it up, I still have a lot more years left in me.
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