Stephen Curry has earned his vacation. He’s stuck with his Golden State Warriors through the dregs of the Don Nelson era, battling frustrating ankle injuries, and watched as the team tried to pair him with the like-minded but less efficient Monta Ellis. Few gave the Warriors a shot at the playoffs heading into 2012-13, but because of Curry’s work the team was at one point the hottest squad in the league, making it to the second round before Curry’s reoccurring ankle woes scuttled what could have been a classic series against the San Antonio Spurs.
Immediately after the team’s ouster, Curry and his teammates gave a heartfelt tribute to the rabid Warrior fan base. The Bay Area has supported the Warriors through good times and bad, and because the team has mostly been bad, the city of San Francisco didn’t hesitate to give Curry a key to the city, even if the squad “only” made it to the second round. In a discussion with Sports on Earth’s Will Leitch, Curry talks up the recent ceremony:
Four years ago, Curry was disappointed that the Knicks didn't draft him. Today, he has the key to the city. (San Francisco, not Oakland… not yet.) Stephen Curry has been special all his life, but he's never been more special, and more revered, than he is right now, in this city. "You wanna know how much this place loves their Warriors?" he says. "We made it to the conference semifinals and they gave me a freaking key to the city. The key to the city! For the semis! If we'd have won the title, they'd have put a statue of Coach Jackson on top of the bridge."
Curry also told Leitch that there is to be “no more CPKs on Friday nights,” in reference to the last time he was mobbed at the California Pizza Kitchen, utilizing an abbreviation that I truly hope does not catch on.
Coach Mark Jackson does seem charismatic enough to inspire followers to build him a statue in the city square regardless of an NBA championship, so that’s settled away regardless of when the team’s season ends. What’s less settled is the team’s future – assistant coach Mike Malone is taking a head coaching gig with the Sacramento Kings, and there are still whispers about how much of the Warriors’ success is due to Malone and assistant Darren Erman’s sets on either end of the court, as opposed to Jackson’s driving sermons.
Then there is the matter of Curry’s ankles. The team will only go as far as his wheels drag the franchise, and by the end of the Spurs series Stephen was relegated to firing up flat-footed jumpers and runners with absolutely no lift. After months of observing just about everything going right for this scorer and distributor, it was a painful watch.
This is why it’s good to get away. The Warriors aren’t going to do much but rely on internal development this summer, and the biggest part of that development will be replacing the ankles that Curry (and Andrew Bogut) were working on in the second week of May with a fresh set for this fall. Nobody’s building any statues until the foundation has been secured.