Hardaway commends Steph's ability to squash skeptics originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
As someone who entered the league with an underdog mentality, former Warrior star Tim Hardaway believes he understands what fuels the greatness of current Warrior superstar Stephen Curry.
A deep desire to prove, on a daily basis, not only that he belongs in the NBA but also that his place is at the very top of the league.
“What he’s doing, and how he’s doing it, it’s crazy,” Hardaway told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “It’s crazy. It’s ridiculous. And the clip that he’s doing it? It’s crazy.
“I know why he’s doing it that way. A lot of people thought he was out and done. That he was going to be hurt, that his career was going to be over with because of the ankle injuries.”
Curry missed part of his second season with recurring ankles woes -- sprains, rolls, twists and tweaks -- and underwent surgery that forced him to miss most of his third season. The frequency with which the injuries occurred led to concerns about the quality of his NBA career.
Curry’s answer came in his fourth season, when he played 78 of 82 games and led the Warriors into the postseason for the second time in 19 seasons. He missed only 14 games over the next four seasons, winning back-to-back MVP awards and leading the Warriors to two NBA championships.
“He worked on getting his ankles strong,” Hardaway said. “And he came back and showed people, ‘Yeah, I’m here to stay and I’m here to play hard and I’m here to win games for this organization and win championships.
“I commend him.”
Hardaway, like the rest of the sports world, was particularly impressed with Curry’s performance in the 2022 postseason, which culminated with the Warriors winning their fourth NBA Finals in eight seasons and Steph earning his first Finals MVP award.
“I could see how focused he was,” Hardaway said. “How focused he was and how he was out there playing and understood what he needed to do for his team to win. And he went out there and did it – offensively and defensively.”
Curry shot 39.7 percent from distance in the postseason, including 43.7 percent in The Finals against the heralded Celtics defense. Over four series, he shot 45.9 percent from the field.
It was during the Western Conference finals against Dallas that Mavericks coach Jason Kidd shined a light on Curry’s fitness, perhaps the most under-publicized but crucial aspect of his game.
“Steph is the best conditioned athlete in this game,” Kidd said.
Hardaway seconded that comment, lauding Curry’s fitness while applying to all those striving to be great.
“The reason (some players) are not really good,” he said, “is because (they’re) not putting in the time and work that Steph puts into it, to go out there and shoot and run and be in shape the way he is.
“It’s an everyday thing. ... It’s every day, every day, for years and years and years. I commend Steph because he goes out there and he plays hard each and every game.”
As someone barely 6 feet tall when he arrived in the NBA in 1989, Hardaway had his share of doubters. Like Curry, he proved capable of smashing skepticism and making every doubter to eat their opinions.