LOS ANGELES — The crowds are back. The media is back. The overwhelming outpouring of adoration on the road is back, and the Golden State Warriors are back to winning.
It’s been two years since the Warriors were championship contenders. And now as it seems the franchise is embarking on extending its reign of dominance with an NBA-best 18-2 start to the 2021-22 season, superstar Stephen Curry talked with Yahoo Sports after Sunday’s 105-90 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on the revived attention his team is receiving.
“We all know how the industry works and how the business works,” Curry told Yahoo Sports following a 33-point performance at Staples Center. “You have to win to get the attention. Even just looking out at the arena, the atmosphere is different. We’re traveling heavier now. It's a different energy around what we do. People probably don't believe this, but I never got too high on that sauce during our five-year run and I never got too low on it either. You’re just riding those waves. For me, it’s about motivation. We just want to win and we understand what comes with it and we want to be in that situation more than anything else because we've experienced that and we know how much fun it is.”
Golden State could be in store for more fun. The team is still awaiting sharpshooter Klay Thompson's return from his Achilles injury, scheduled for December. Additionally, the 2020 No. 2 overall draft pick, James Wiseman, is on course to make his season debut next month after undergoing knee surgery.
There was considerable skepticism that the Warriors would be capable of making a run at a sixth title with the core group of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green.
“Well, why would they think we could?” Curry told Yahoo Sports, understanding why the doubts existed. “We had some of the worst situations happen with [Kevin Durant] getting hurt and leaving, Klay being out and then his Achilles, and our brand of basketball looked different with who was out there on the court.”
Curry acknowledged there was doubt on his part, too.
“I was talking to Draymond about this on the plane ride down here,” he told Yahoo Sports. “You have to understand how quickly things can change around the league. And there was a little doubt that crept in with us wondering would the business take over before we get to have a chance to get back with the injuries and decisions that need to be made all the while you're working your ass off to get back physically and mentally into this very spot. We always felt that if we could just get some pieces, we can be right back where we wanted to be. So we know we got a long way to go, but we heard all of it obviously about our team being done. And that's why I said, ‘Why wouldn’t they say that?’ because as great as it was for five years, it took a drastic downturn pretty quick.”
The two-time MVP is back to seeing his pregame workout routines flocked with swarms of fans. As an early MVP favorite who is averaging 28.6 points and shooting 42.3% from 3-point range, along with the Warriors rekindling their winning ways, road fans are back to cheering them on. It happened again at Staples Center while he was unleashing dagger triples and celebrating. He received a borderline standing ovation when he was subbed out late in the contest.
Curry said he’s just embracing the stage once more and revealed how difficult it was to be removed from it.
“Watching the bubble was the lowest point of those two years,” Curry told Yahoo Sports. “There was a part of me that felt it was nice to get refreshed, and a part of me really missed playing on that stage. That was the first time in seven years of not being in the playoffs. We know each player had their own experiences in the bubble, but I would have loved to have been there competing. I would say that was the lowest point in terms of my basketball experience because I felt so far away from it. This is what I love to do.”
When you’re out of sight, you're out of mind. Whoever is the last great player standing at the end of the season is usually anointed the face of the league. Curry admitted that it bothered him being out of the spotlight when the games mattered most, but said it’s why he’s not letting his foot off the gas now. And that could spell trouble for the rest of the league.
“It got to me a little bit because you're so used to performing in certain times of the year,” Curry told Yahoo Sports. “You understand the chatter or the narratives of the league when it's at the highest stage, but for me, it’s more so just the competitive nature. You remember how much fun it is. I know the bubble was different, but you’re watching teams that you know everything about. That was hard because we know what it’s like to prepare for the playoffs and into a championship chase and how much fun that is. That’s the motivation I needed. That’s why I’m enjoying the ride we’re on now, and we’re not done.”