Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry completed his journey from overlooked high school star to the top of the NBA pile on Tuesday night when he received his 2015 Most Valuable Player award in front of 19,000 cheering fans at the Oracle Centre, Oakland.
Curry, 27, was named MVP for the 2014-15 season in an NBA release on Monday, after he convincingly topped the season end poll of sports journalists, winning 1,198 points — including 100 of the 130 first place votes. Second placed James Harden, of the Houston Rockets, polled 936 points and 25 first place votes.
Curry’s coronation comes on the back of a season in which his leadership and unerring three-point shooting led Golden State to a league-high 67 wins, making them odds-on favourites to be crowned NBA champions this year. Curry hit a NBA record 286 three-pointers, breaking his own record of 276 from the 2012-13 season, while averaging 23.8 points per game, and led the league with 91.4 percent free-throw shooting.
Tuesday’s award presentation preceded the second game of Golden State’s Western Conference semifinal series against Memphis Grizzlies, and Curry delivered a short speech — following a more detailed 50-minute speech at the NBA presentation on Monday — thanking the Warriors’ fans for their support.
“We couldn’t have done it without all of you. This is a special moment, but we have important business, so let’s get to it.”
He had been a bit more effusive at the official presentation on Monday night, when he reflected on his journey to this point.
“There were obviously good times and bad times. Times I wanted to shut it down. Times where you realize that all the hard work you put into it was worth it. It just made me realize how blessed and thankful I really am to be in this position.”
It’s certainly not a position that seemed likely when a young Curry — whose father, Dell, also played in the NBA — graduated high school nine years ago. Despite an accomplished high school career at Charlotte Christian School — he was named all-state, all-conference, and won three conference titles — no major conference college offered the budding star a scholarship. Even Virginia Tech, where his father had been a big star, only offered a chance to join as a walk-on player.
Curry eventually took a scholarship from Davidson, where in a three-year career under coach Bob McKillop, he set all sorts of scoring records before being picked seventh overall by Golden State in the 2009 NBA draft.
Six years on, and the newly-minted MVP will be hoping to cap a superb season with the biggest prize of all. Curry and Golden State certainly did their championship prospects no harm with a 4-0 sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round — Curry scored 40 and 39 points in games three and four respectively.
But Tuesday night’s MVP celebrations didn’t go exactly to script. Curry scored 19 points, but was only 2 for 11 from three-point range as the Memphis Grizzlies won 97-90 to tie the series 1-1.
The series is far from done, but it’s unlikely anyone will be doubting Curry this time.
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Sports]