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Stephen Curry Left His Critics With Nothing Else to Say


BOSTON — A couple of seconds remained in Stephen Curry’s N.B.A. season when he spotted his father, Dell, sitting along considered one of the baselines. He went over to embrace him, then fell to the court in tears.

“Surreal,” Curry said. “I just wanted to absorb the moment since it was that special.”

Over six games of the N.B.A. finals, Curry had supplied Golden State with a narrow range of feats that ranged from the extraordinary to the sublime. He squeezed past partitions of defenders for up-and-under layups, and backpedaled for fadeaway jumpers. He enthralled some fans while demoralizing others. He sought the highlight, then delivered.

He effectively turned the court into his personal theater and the Celtics into his helpless foils, delivering performance after performance in a two-week run whose only flaw was that almost everyone could begin to anticipate the ending — with Curry exiting the stage as a champion again.

After Golden State defeated Boston, 103-90, on Thursday to clinch its fourth title in eight seasons, Curry, 34, reflected on the long journey back to the highest: the injuries and the lopsided losses, the doubters and the uncertainty. He also recalled the precise moment he began preparing for the beginning of this season — 371 days ago.

“These last two months of the playoffs, these last three years, these last 48 hours — every little bit of it has been an emotional roller coaster on and off the ground,” Curry said, “and also you’re carrying all of that on a day by day basis to try to appreciate a dream and a goal like we did tonight.”

The numbers tell one story, and so they are value emphasizing. For the series, Curry averaged 31.2 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the sector and 43.7 percent from 3-point range. He was the unanimous selection because the finals’ most dear player.

“He carried us,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said, “and we’re here as champions.”

But there was an artistry to Curry’s work within the series, too, and it was a profound reminder of every part he has done to reshape the way in which fans — and even fellow players — think in regards to the game. The way in which he stretches the court together with his interplanetary shooting. The way in which he uses post players to create space with pick-and-rolls. The way in which he has boosted the conceit of smaller players in every single place.

“When I’m going back home to Milwaukee and watch my A.A.U. team play and practice, everybody desires to be Steph,” Golden State’s Kevon Looney said. “Everybody desires to shoot 3s, and I’m like: ‘Man, you started working just a little harder to shoot like him. I see him day-after-day.’ ”

For 2 seasons, in fact, within the wake of the Golden State’s catastrophic, injury-marred trip to the 2019 finals, a few of that joy was missing. The Warriors scuffled through a slow rebuild.

The team reassembled the pieces this season, but there have been no guarantees. Curry missed the ultimate 12 games of the regular season with a sprained left foot, then aggravated the injury in Game 3 of the finals. All he did in Game 4 was rating 43 points to assist Golden State even the series at two games apiece.

He showed that he was mortal in Game 5, missing all nine of his 3-point attempts, but his supporting forged filled the void. Amongst them: Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who developed their games during Golden State’s playoff-free hiatus and were indispensable this postseason.

“Our young guys carried the assumption that we could get back to this stage and win,” Curry said. “And even when it didn’t make sense to anybody once we said it, all that stuff matters.”

For Game 6 on Thursday, Curry broke out the complete buffet. He used a pump fake to send the Celtics’ Al Horford flying toward an expensive row of seats. He baited defenders into traps and zipped passes to cutting teammates. And after an enormous flurry within the third quarter, he glared at the gang and pointed at his ring finger. (Translation: He was ready for more jewelry.)

Curry began to get emotional when Boston Coach Ime Udoka summoned his reserves from the bench with just over a minute remaining, conceding the series and the championship. Standing alone at midcourt, Curry gave the impression to be laughing and crying at the identical time, a euphoric mixture of feelings.

“You imagine what the emotions are going to be like, but it surely hits different,” he said.

In a sports world consumed by debate shows, uninformed opinions and hot takes on social media, two asterisks — unfair ones — looked as if it would trail Curry like fumes. The primary was that he had neither helped his team win a title without Kevin Durant nor defeated a finals opponent who was at full strength. The second was that he had not been named a finals M.V.P.

Whether he cared or not, Curry effectively quashed each of those narratives against the Celtics, a team that had all of its young stars in uniform and even had Marcus Smart, the league’s defensive player of the yr, spending good portions of the series together with his arms tucked inside Curry’s jersey.

For his part, Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said there was just one achievement missing from Curry’s résumé: an Olympic gold medal. (It must be noted that Kerr coaches the U.S. men’s national team.)

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist,” Kerr said, deadpan. “Truthfully, the entire finals M.V.P. thing? I assume his profession has been so impeccable, and that’s the one thing we will actually find. So it’s great to envision that box for him. However it’s really hard for me to think that’s actually been held against him.”

After the sport, as Golden State’s players and coaches began to assemble on a stage for the trophy presentation, Curry hugged each of them, one after the other.

“Back on top, 30!” Looney said, referring to Curry’s uniform number.

Afterward, as Curry made his way toward a courtside tunnel, lingering fans clamored to catch up with to the court, closer to Curry, before he was disappeared from view. He chomped on a victory cigar as he held his finals M.V.P. trophy aloft, pushing it skyward once, twice, thrice.

Nobody could miss it.

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