The Associated Press reported early Saturday that reigning NBA champ and league MVP, Stephen Curry has been voted AP male athlete of the year. With his shifty handles and limitless range, the once overlooked and undersized guard has taken the league, and now the world of sports by storm.
Not being highly recruited coming out of high school, Curry wowed college fans and scouts with his impressive shooting skills while at Davidson, but was still a questionable draft pick coming out in 2009. He has since used that criticism to evolve into one of the most unorthodox league MVP’s since Steve Nash, and deadliest shooters to ever play the game.
“The way that I play has a lot of skill but is stuff that if you go to the YMCA or rec leagues or church leagues around the country, everybody wants to shoot, everybody wants to handle the ball, make creative passes and stuff like that,” Curry said. “You can work on that stuff. Not everybody has the vertical, or the physical gifts to be able to go out and do a windmill dunk and stuff like that. I can’t even do it.”
Curry beat out golfer Jordan Spieth, and Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah for The Associated Press‘ pick for top male athlete. He’s also only the fourth NBA player to win the award in its 85 year existence, the other four being LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
But Curry’s newest accolade wasn’t the only headline making the rounds Saturday regarding the game’s reigning MVP. Along with the news of becoming male athlete of the year, remarks made by Curry’s former head coach, Mark Jackson, regarding Curry’s game were trending Saturday.
Mark Jackson thinks Stephen Curry is 'hurting' basketball; Warriors disagree (Yahoo Sports) https://t.co/XSZGoR6l3o— Clayton (@Lakers88) December 26, 2015
In a game that centered around the game’s two largest superstars in Golden State’s Steph Curry and Cleveland’s Lebron James this past Friday, it was the remarks made by Stephen Curry’s ex-coach and current ABC analyst, Mark Jackson, that was making the headlines the morning after. During the closing minutes of the third quarter of Friday’s match up, Jackson made a remark that came off as negative criticism towards his former point guard, Stephen Curry.
“Understand what I’m saying when I say this. He’s hurting the game,” Jackson said. “And what I mean by that is that I go into these high school gyms, I watch these kids, and the first thing they do is they run to the 3-point line. You are not Steph Curry. Work on the other aspects of the game.”
Following the game, reporters mentioned Jackson’s comments (out of context) to Curry who seemed to laugh it off. And by going off the quote alone, without the dialogue that occurred before or after, it’s easy to see why many, including the Warriors, took the comment as a shot towards the games hottest star.
“I have to talk to him,” Curry informed Yahoo Sports after Friday’s win. “I don’t know what he means by that. If you can shoot, shoot. If you can’t, stop.”
To understand the relationship between Mark Jackson and Stephen Curry, one would have to be familiar with the details behind the three years they spent together while Jackson was head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
If you’ve ever played sports at any level, you know that the relationship between a coach and a player is one akin to one of a father and son. Yes, the comments came off as insulting, and many believe that any sign of bitterness towards the Warriors or their players from Mark Jackson is rooted off the fact that the team won a ring the season after he was replaced by Steve Kerr as head coach.
But when you listen to the dialogue in it’s entirety, one can also flip the narrative being advertised by the media as one that showcases just how great Steph Curry’s former coach believes his former point guard has become and how much more his game is than just chucking up three pointers.
At the end of the day, Mark Jackson is an Analyst of the game of basketball. In an attempt to break down Curry’s greatness from a different perspective, he left himself vulnerable to the media and fans and readers who never bother to look beyond the surface.
Here is a clip that replays Jackson’s exact comments regarding Steph Curry during the Christmas day game.
[Photo via AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]