Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Basketball 2016- Anticipating March Madness
I do not often make predictions. Basically, it is because I am a coward.
But I am predicting that Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry will repeat as the MVP of the NBA this year. A very safe prediction. Following last year's remarkable season, he has taken his game to greater heights. He has re-written the record book even though the season is far from complete.
In Curry's case, this is a story of the apple falling close to the tree. His father Dell played from 1986 to 2002 in the National Basketball Association. He began his career with the Utah Jazz, moved to Cleveland for a year, and then spent the next ten years with the Charlotte Hornets. After another season with the Milwaukee Bucks, he finished up his career with the Toronto Raptors, retiring in 2002.
Dell Curry grew up in Virginia. In order to perfect his shot, he got permission from his high school coach to practise in his barn. He went on to play college ball as a four-year starter at Virginia Tech. And he was also a decent baseball player as well, drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers, and later by the Baltimore Orioles.
Steph Curry is the oldest of the three Curry children. His brother Seth plays for the Sacramento Kings, and his sister plays volleyball at Elon University. His mother also played university volleyball. The right DNA, to begin with.
He moved to Toronto with his family in 1999. As an elementary school kid in the West End of the city, he began to learn his trade. Shooting, shooting, shooting. Handling the ball. Learning the ropes. On one occasion, he arrived late for the game, at half time. Without any warmup, his first shot went through the hoop. And the next. And several shots following that. He played for a “Club” team called Toronto 5-0.
They traveled around the province playing other Club teams. They amassed a record of 33 wins, four losses, and won the provincial championship. (Several area kids have also traveled that route
to learn the game, including the Ross boys, the Doornekamps from the Napanee area, and my son Arty.)
Steph married a Toronto native Ayesha Alexander. They have two daughters, and live in the Bay area of San Francisco.
Incidentally, the Raptors drafted DeMar DeRozan in the same draft that saw Curry go to the Golden State Warriors. Curry went seventh, DeRozan ninth. Missed him by a hair! DeRozan has been an outstanding addition to the Raptors roster.
Last weekend Curry hit a shot that has stirred the basketball world. It was measured at more than 38 feet from the basket. It was a game-winning shot, in overtime. It was his 288th three point basket, eclipsing his previous mark. Last year, he established the record for the most three pointers in a season. The Warriors still have almost 30% of their games remaining. He will certainly score at least 400 this season.
Curry shoots slightly more that 50% beyond the arc, and is successful more than 9 out of every ten times that he shoots foul shots. A small man in a big man's game, he seems to compensate, adequately.
An incredible ball-handler, his warm up routine is worth the price of admission. He dribbles two balls, and stretches to prepare for the game. His moves to the basket for simple layups confound opponents. The approach that most opposing teams have to guarding him? Keep the ball out of his hands.
He has elevated his team to great heights. There is a good chance that they will eclipse the best regular season record of all time-owned by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Yes, the heyday of a certain Michael Jordan. Curry will also repeat as league MVP, and will lead his team into the playoffs.
There is also plenty of other wonderful tidbits about this young star on Wikipedia, including video of his times in Hogtown.
Off to see the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles tonight. First Playoff game. Do or die in every game. It's Madness!