Stephen Curry has heard the criticism. He’s conscious his legacy is being questioned, and he is aware of that any dangerous recreation will begin once more the reconsideration of his accomplishments. However after scoring a career-high 62 factors for the Golden State Warriors in a 137-122 win over the Portland Path Blazers on Sunday evening, Curry despatched a transparent message to his critics: Hold speaking.
“I like being talked about as a result of there’s expectations,” he mentioned.
Curry’s career-best efficiency got here in a matchup with one in every of his greatest on-court rivals — Damian Lillard of Portland — and on the heels of a storm of social media criticism wherein his legacy as a team-lifting celebrity was known as into query.
“Cue the Jordan meme: ‘I take all that personally,’” Curry mentioned with amusing, referencing a line by Michael Jordan within the documentary “The Final Dance.”
Curry then defined that the efficiency — he had 31 factors at halftime — got here from a a lot easier place than individuals is likely to be assuming: “I had a possibility to claim my will on the sport early and create some power.”
Asserting his will included capturing 18 of 31 from the sphere, 8 of 16 from 3-point vary and 18 of 19 from the free-throw line. Curry grew to become the primary participant since Kobe Bryant on Dec. 20, 2005, to attain at the least 30 factors in every half of a recreation, and he bettered his earlier profession excessive of 54 factors, which was set in a highway loss to the Knicks in 2013.
His 62 factors additionally have been essentially the most by any participant this season and made him solely the fifth player in franchise history to attain 60 or extra factors, a feat final achieved by Klay Thompson, who had 60 in 29 minutes throughout a blowout win over the Indiana Pacers in 2016. Rick Barry, Joe Fulks, Thompson and Curry every have one 60-point recreation for the Warriors, whereas Wilt Chamberlain had 27.
“He got here out trying like a person on a mission,” Draymond Inexperienced mentioned of Curry, who scored 21 factors within the first quarter.
Thompson welcomed Curry to the 60-point membership with a tweet, and Curry’s youthful brother, Seth, who performs for the Philadelphia 76ers, took the chance to poke enjoyable at Stephen’s critics, who appear to show practically each recreation right into a referendum on his legacy.
Curry mentioned his brother’s tweet was one of the best one he’d seen thus far and that criticism was simply a part of being a celebrity.
“I don’t get frazzled too simply and I’m very assured in who I’m as an individual and as a basketball participant,” he mentioned. “There’s not going to be something you possibly can say about me or to me that’s going to have an effect on that. On the finish of the day that’s how I acquired right here.”
Whereas Curry has performed nicely early this season, averaging 32.3 factors and 6.2 assists by six video games, there isn’t a query that the Warriors are a far cry from the juggernaut once led by Curry, Thompson, Green and Kevin Durant. Golden State opened the season with blowout losses to Durant’s Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, and appeared inept in a loss to Portland on Friday. Whereas their poor play has come principally from newcomers like Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre, a heavy share of the blame has landed squarely on the shoulders of Curry, the Warriors’ finest participant. His most persistent critics have questioned why a two-time winner of the N.B.A.’s Most Precious Participant Award can’t elevate a lesser staff to relevance in the way in which LeBron James has carried out.
Inexperienced, who just lately returned from an damage, rejected that premise.
“Everyone is at all times going to attempt to discover a cause to nitpick one thing Steph does, whether or not it’s that you simply haven’t received a Finals M.V.P. otherwise you haven’t carried a staff,” Inexperienced mentioned. “If I’m not mistaken, he carried the 2015 staff.”
“To be sincere, he’s carried each staff, as a result of he’s been the chief of the group since I’ve been right here.”
A lot of Curry’s youthful teammates weren’t with Golden State through the championship years. They have been left struggling to explain such a dominant efficiency.
James Wiseman, the staff’s rookie middle, in contrast it to a online game. “It jogs my memory of 2K,” he mentioned, “as a result of I used to play with Steph on a regular basis, and I used to drop like 60. So, identical to truly watching in particular person, that was phenomenal.”
Oubre, a veteran guard acquired through the low season to assist fill in for the injured Thompson, introduced the attitude of getting been one in every of Curry’s opponents, saying “I used to be simply joyful to be on the identical facet as him tonight, as a result of I do know it stunk for the opposite staff.”
Curry declined to foretell if big-scoring video games would develop into a daily incidence. However he objected to a reporter’s saying he couldn’t rating 62 factors each recreation, playfully responding “Hey, why not?”
And Coach Steve Kerr, who mentioned he had lifted Curry within the recreation’s ultimate minute “so the 42 individuals within the stands may give him a standing ovation,” mentioned he was perplexed why anybody would criticize Curry within the first place.
“I’m not enjoying dumb: Does he actually take criticism?” Kerr requested. “I’ll take a look at Twitter later. I hope they’re saying one thing good about him tonight.”