The Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals on Thursday to clinch their sixth NBA Finals appearance in the last eight seasons.
The Warriors are a dynasty on par with any of the other dynasties of the past 30 years. The scary part is, they’re still going and may go down as the best ever. A large reason for that is two-time MVP Stephen Curry. Of course, his brilliance on the floor makes it work, but his commitment to winning and trust in the organization is just as important.
After the 2019 NBA Finals when an injury-riddled Warriors (no Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson) lost to the Toronto Raptors, the common thought was their time was over. Durant left in free agency and Thompson missed two seasons rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles and torn ACL.
The Warriors failed to make the playoffs the next two seasons. Their poor play and a savvy trade of D’Angelo Russell earned them three lottery picks and Andrew Wiggins.
The team philosophy was they still had Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson whenever he returned from injury. They could still be good enough to compete with those players in their late primes and develop those picks and young guys to win in the future.
As the team’s superstar and veteran Curry could have easily wielded his power and influence to force the team to get players who could maximize his window and win immediately. We’ve seen plenty of NBA stars do it. But he trusted the organization, signed a super max extension and committed to the process. He starts playing for his fourth title next week.
“A lot of stars would’ve said, ‘No, you have to trade all these young assets for a star. I need a star,'” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic. “Organizationally, the decision was ‘Let’s grow these young guys so we can have a bright future.’ Very few people in Steph’s shoes would’ve said, ‘All right, I’ll embrace it and let’s go to work.'”
The NBA is full of alpha male competitors who will do anything to win. They don’t care about the future of a franchise when they’ll likely be gone. To be fair, that’s understandable. The shelf life of an athlete isn’t long and injury always looms.
But Curry and the Warriors have developed trust over the years. He knows the organization will do right by him, which they have, and in return he is doing what he can, trusting in owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers.
That level of maturity and stable leadership from Curry makes life easier for an organization.
“That permeates all the way through,” Kerr said. “Players, coaches. It makes my job easier, makes Bob’s job easier, makes Joe’s job easier. Everything starts with Steph.”
Look at what’s going on in Los Angeles with the Lakers and in Brooklyn with the Nets. When an organization is constantly moving in fear of upsetting their star players or when star players have too much sway in personnel decisions, it can get ugly really fast.
“That’s not how I operate,” Curry told The Athletic. “There were conversations and different paths to take, and we all had conversations about going different ways. But at the end of the day, I have a lot of trust in Bob, a lot of confidence in what we’re about. There was no panic. Obviously, it helps that we had won a couple championships. It affords patience. But there was no panic in terms of getting me, Klay and Draymond another run at it, figuring out how we could get pieces around us to make it work. It’s just patience at the end of the day.”
Curry is this generation’s Tim Duncan. A superstar that trusts his organization and let’s people do their jobs while he sets the standard in how he does his.
Stephen Curry is now a career 21-4 (.840) in playoff series. Better than MJ, LeBron, Kareem, Larry and Magic.
Stephen Curry is a career 89-39 (.695) in playoff games. Better than any MVP in NBA history (min. 50 games).
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 27, 2022
It’s a model many teams will try to copy, as that is how the NBA works. But it doesn’t work unless you have Steph Curry. Not just as a player. There will be plenty of elite players that come into the league that have the talent and can impact on-court winning just the same, if not better. But will they have the disposition and temperament of Curry as a leader to do their job to the best of their ability and trust the franchise to do the same? That’s what separates Curry from his peers.