The timing, as it is with all things in Stephen Curry’s world, is perfect.
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Just a few hours after the Golden State Warriors guard became the King of the Nighttime World with his spectacular Game 4 performance in his first game in a fortnight, the league’s 2014-15 Most Valuable Player was officially announced as the NBA’s 2015-16 MVP.
And, because us ink-stained wretches finally got something right, Curry also became the league’s first unanimously voted-upon MVP in NBA history.
Curry grabbed all 131 first place votes, which has never happened before. In 2000 Shaquille O’Neal saw his potentially unanimous turn clipped by one vote from Fred Hickman (then working for CNN/SI), who pulled the lever for Allen Iverson. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn did the same in 2013 for Carmelo Anthony, stopping LeBron James from setting the 131-to-nil standard.
Stephen, in a transcendent year, made sure things were on the level in 2016.
San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, expectedly, finished second with the most second-place votes, and LeBron James ranked third. Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant rounded out the top five, Los Angeles guard Chris Paul came in sixth, and Curry’s teammate Draymond Green nabbed two second-place votes and finished in seventh place.
Portland’s Damian Lillard, who attempted to go toe-to-toe with Curry on Monday night, finished eighth. Last season’s runner-up James Harden came in ninth, while Toronto’s Kyle Lowry took the ten spot.
Curry led the NBA in scoring, steals, free throw percentage, Player Efficiency Rating, three-pointers made, and all manner of advanced statistics. He helped push the Warriors to an NBA record 73 wins, and he’s a few hours removed from setting the record for the most points in an overtime performance. He remains the league’s most compelling player to watch, an unholy mix of just about every skilled superstar that came before him, working within a relatively skinflint 6-3 and 185-lb. frame.
The Golden State leader frightened us all when he went down with an ankle injury during his team’s first postseason game in April, as Curry struggled for years to overcome ankle woes in his first few professional turn. Upon his return a week after that setback, he sprained his right knee in a fluke fall, necessitating a 14-day layoff. Curry is clearly back, though, notching 40 points in a spirited Golden State comeback win on Monday evening, hitting for that NBA record 17 in overtime.
What’s worth bringing up, in an industry that likes to be cute and too clever by half, is how straight up the kilt the voting process went.
Not only did the league’s media unanimously vote Curry in as MVP, it passed on handing out votes to anyone but the ten players listed above. Nobody decided to write in a kitschy or too-cool candidate for a fourth or fifth-place vote, as Leonard and LeBron ruled the roost with the most amount of second and third-place calls, with Chris Paul and the rest dotting the edges of the five-tiered ballot.
And, as things should be, the star that averaged 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals took the unanimous vote. The guy that shot over 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from behind the three-point arc, and nearly 91 percent from the free throw line was recognized. The guy that turned in a Michael Jordan-level PER and broke his own record for three-pointers in a season just two-thirds of the way into that season will receive his second consecutive Most Valuable Player trophy.
The NBA is just eating out of Stephen Curry’s hand right now, and it couldn’t be happier.
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