Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry racked up another pair of accolades at the 2015 ESPY Awards on Wednesday evening, earning recognition as the year's Best NBA Player and Best Male Athlete to go along with his 2014-15 NBA Most Valuable Player Award and NBA championship. (That's going to be one crowded mantel.)
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
Curry beat out the other top five finishers in MVP voting — James Harden of the Houston Rockets, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans — to win Best NBA Player. It was a well-deserved honor celebrating a career year for the 27-year-old Curry, who ranked sixth in the NBA in both points and assists per game, while leading the league in 3-pointers made and attempted for the third straight season and shooting a blistering 44.3 percent from downtown. (He also led the NBA in total steals and free-throw percentage.)
The defense-distorting long-range bomber got more votes than any other player for the 2015 All-Star Game en route to broke his own NBA record for most triples in a single season, leading the Warriors to a league-best and franchise-record 67 wins and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Once there, he continued collapsing opposing defenders and coaching staffs, averaging 28.3 points, 6.4 assists and five rebounds per game, demolishing Reggie Miller's mark for most long balls in a postseason and leading the Warriors to their first NBA championship in 40 years.
While Curry's selection as the best NBA player of this past year might have been considered a lock, his win as Best Male Athlete — a cross-sport honor — might seem a bit more surprising.
After beating out not only James — who won the evening's Best Championship Performance award for his work during the Finals, despite losing to Curry's Warriors — but also Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Curry took to the stage and showed his appreciation by cracking a joke:
"You know, I never imagined myself standing on this stage holding this award," Curry said after thanking his family — headlined by wife Ayesha, who stayed home to take care of five-day-old daughter Ryan — and his teammates on the NBA champion Warriors. "I'm 6-foot-3, 180 pounds soaking wet. It's really nice to be called an athlete once in a while. Thank you very much."
Well played, Steph. You could've made a compelling and nuanced argument that ball-handling skills, agility, muscle memory and unparalleled hand-eye coordination are just as "athletic" as jump-out-of-the-gym hops, but that probably would've taken a while, and that band might've played you off. Firing off a quick, self-deprecating goof was a much cooler way of handling it. Nicely done.
Curry also presented Brent and Lisa Hill, the parents of the late college basketball player Lauren Hill, with the Best Moment ESPY in honor of their daughter's courage in continuing to play for the Mount St. Joseph's women's basketball team as she battled the inoperable brain tumor that would eventually take her life.
Curry's pair of awards weren't the only trophies the Warriors took home on Wednesday. Head coach Steve Kerr also won Best Coach/Manager after leading the Dubs to the league's No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense in a wildly successful championship-winning first season on the bench.
The champs did come up short in a couple of other categories, though. Klay Thompson's 37-point third quarter against the Sacramento Kings couldn't top Peyton Manning's 509th touchdown pass in the Best Record-Breaking Performance category. And, like the field at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, the Warriors couldn't overcome the U.S. women's national soccer team in the Best Team department. Somehow, I don't think Steph and his still-celebrating fellow champs mind all that much.
- - - - - - -