OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pokes fun at questions from reporters all the time and can be easily irritated and annoyed, especially after losses, which is what made his reaction to Stephen Curry sinking seven 3-pointers in Golden State's 116-106 win over San Antonio last month such a rare scene.
"It's actually fun to watch," Popovich said following the game in Oakland on April 15, when he rested most of his starters. "Everybody hates losing, but I enjoyed watching a talented kid perform the way he did, and he does it with class."
Curry can captivate almost any audience in a way almost nobody else can.
Curry's connection to the crowd at ear-splitting Oracle Arena has been must-see TV in the NBA playoffs, leading the Warriors to the second round against the Spurs starting Monday night in San Antonio. Hall of Famers and celebrities tweet about his games. Even opponents marvel at his record-breaking shooting stroke.
If his stardom continues to rise, the Warriors hope Curry can also make a franchise that has remained remarkably popular in the Bay Area an appealing place for marquee free agents around the country.
"I think the way he plays, the type of person he is, it's very, very attractive to other people," said Warriors guard Jarrett Jack, who will be a free agent this summer. "He's one of the best teammates I've ever had. Overall, one of the best people I've ever known. Playing with him and watching him is just fun, man. Who doesn't want to have fun?"
What makes Curry so compelling might be the simplest of basketball skills: shooting.
Most people can't dunk like Miami's LeBron James, run as fast as Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook or elevate the way Clippers forward Blake Griffin does. But anybody can shoot — or at least attempt to shoot — in a game long dominated by big men and played by some of the world's greatest athletes, which is what makes the way Curry can dominate so special.
All of 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Curry controls games without ever overpowering defenders. His shooting stroke might be the best on the planet right now, and when he gets going, nobody has found a way to slow him down.
"He has a gift that you can count on your hand how many people have," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Everyone wants to be a shooter. And then you look at him, he looks like a baby. And he's smiling and he never gets out of character and he's a class act. I just think at the end of the day people see him and say, 'Man, that's how I want my son to be.'"
The diminutive guard who dazzled during Davidson's run to the regional finals of the 2008 NCAA tournament has stolen the NBA spotlight this season — especially in the playoffs — the way he did in college.
Curry scored a career-high 54 points against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 27, and he also had 47 points at the Los Angeles Lakers on April 12. In the Game 4 win over Denver in the first round, Curry had perhaps his finest moment: he scored 22 of his 31 points in a 6-minute, 22-second span of basketball bliss.
On the ball or off the dribble, the quick-shooting guard showed the kind of range that helped him make 272 3-pointers in the regular season — three more than Ray Allen's record set in 2005-06 with Seattle — and, at times, seemingly controlled every gold-shirt wearing fan in the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 on his fingertips.
Continue reading this story on the...