For anyone who plays fantasy sports, or even Fantasy Bachelorette, the following metaphor will ring true. For everyone who rolls their eyes at the words “fantasy sports”—before you do!—put your associations with bros, brews, and chauvinism aside, and see fantasy sports as a buoy point for community and, more specifically, a space for card collecting, Magic: The Gathering playing, strategy-game-loving former kids to endure as adults.
Fantasy sports can have all of the things people who disdain them disdain. But they also have laughter and camaraderie, in-person barbecues, and galvanizing Zoom hangs. My fantasy group chat is where I’ve learned about friends’ babies. It’s where we’ve shared condolences for lost relatives.
For those who play fantasy sports, one quandary we face is that they create an inherent contradiction. As sports fans, we love our real teams and we love our fantasy players. Well, sometimes our fantasy players play against the home team. Fantasy baseball participants agonize at the paradox faced when their fantasy hitter on the Yankees is at the plate against their hometown Red Sox. Fantasy football players recoil when their fantasy defense has a pick-6 against their family’s team; winning them the fantasy week, but losing them the game.
In fantasy basketball, you play one team per week. Each team consists of a collection of drafted players, you tally up the totality of their statistics for the week and the team with the most wins. Every week for as long as I can remember, I’ve rooted for my players and against those I am competing with.
This is how it always is.
Rather, this is how it always was, until last month.
Last month I played the team with Steph Curry. I started watching the Warriors and as I always do, fired myself up and toasted to Steph having an off night, getting injured, or preferably, getting caught like Dr. Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home in the multiverse.
And then in an instant, much like the Grinch suddenly perceiving the beauty in life, an unexpected sensation washed over me. I realized I didn’t want Steph to have a bad night. I realized I didn’t care about winning the matchup, or about fantasy at all, I just wanted to watch Steph, be, well, Steph.
If you don’t know much about Steph Curry, you’re missing out. He defies basketball convention. He’s like watching a professional dancer at a house party. He is 6’3”, which is tall for the Y, but short in an NBA locker room. He can shoot from anywhere, dissect any defense. He’s like a hummingbird, constantly in motion, weaving around the court waiting for his defender to falter but an inch and giving him room to strike.
He is also physically beautiful—much in the line of Tom Brady, Andy Roddick, Alex Morgan, and other athletes that you look at and think, “don’t you have enough already?” But his beauty runs deeper. He is a ray of sunshine. He beams hope, warmth, and charm. He’s a top pick in any conversation of who you’d like to be stranded on a desert island with, or partner on a startup.
Now, Steph is not the best basketball player ever. Michael Jordan is better, LeBron is better, I think perhaps Kobe Bryant is better. But what I want to convey is that Steph is not even competing on the same plane as other NBA legends. Comparing Steph to other players is like asking who’s the best jazz trumpeter and naming John Coltrane. It’s like submitting The Departed in a comedy film festival.
If I gave one musician a professional recording studio brimming with the finest instruments available and another musician a 4-track and a beat-up acoustic guitar, and the song by the latter musician was 90% as good as the song by the former, who would you be more impressed by?
Michael Jordan is 6’6”, LeBron James is 6’8”. Their bodies allow them to do things Steph simply has no access to. They can dominate athletically, they can defend a multitude of positions, and they can impose their will physically. The fact that Steph Curry is in the conversation with them as one of the greatest players ever is breathtaking. In the words of LeBron James, “We’re all witnesses to what Steph Curry has done in his career and the way that he’s changed the game. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime basketball player.”
Steph has redefined what is possible on a basketball court. Opposing teams are forced to guard him as soon as he crosses halfcourt because he’s liable to pull up from the logo. This season he is attempting 13.3 threes/game. The 1996 Bulls attempted 16 threes/game as a team. I asked my 11-year-old basketball-obsessed neighbor his thoughts on Steph, he exuberantly responded, “He is the master of threes!” I then asked if he had thoughts on him as a person and he said, “He seems like a good person, like he would teach you how to make threes and be really nice about it.” Well said, Jeremiah.
Watching Steph is like watching a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. You hope whatever is happening around him is exemplary and elevates his work, but whatever does happen, you can count on his performance to dazzle and you know it’s a must-see event.
The numbers don’t do Steph justice, but just because they’re so absurd, here are a few:
- This season Steph set the record for the most made threes in NBA history. As of writing this article he has made 3012. (In second place is Ray Allen who netted 2973 deep balls in his illustrious career.) Every game Steph adds to his record. He is still in his prime and years away from the “bring Steph off the bench just to shoot corner threes” phase of his career so I don’t think it’s impossible to say he could double this number.
- In 2016, he became the only unanimously selected MVP in NBA history while averaging 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.4 rebounds.
- In addition to being the greatest shooter of all time, he is also the best free-throw shooter of all time, converting 90.8% of his foul shots.
- For his career, Steph is shooting 47.4% FG, 43% 3PFG, and 90.8% FT, there are only 8 players in NBA history (including Steph in 2015-2016) who have averaged 50+ FG%/40+ 3PT%/90+ FT% for a single season.
- Steph has 22 games where he has made 10+ threes. Behind him, is his teammate Klay Thompson with 5 such games.
- Steph Curry is a 7x all-star, 7x ALL NBA Team selection, 2x MVP, and a 3x champion. He will add to all of these blinding accolades.
But to truly understand Steph Curry you need to watch him. And if you haven’t, we only have a few more years where Steph is STEPH, please don’t miss them. If I told you there was a once-in-a-lifetime supernova talent who was redefining any medium, wouldn’t you want to witness it?
Fantasy sports might not be your thing, but the fantasy of sport is for everyone. Steph Curry is not about basketball. Steph Curry is about inspiring the most ambitious possibilities of what our species is capable of.
The world is in a dark place but Steph is a beacon of hope. The way he shimmies after a deep three, the way his eyes glisten when he laughs in an interview, the way he publicly shows love with his kids and joyfully supports his wife Ayesha’s career. I am thankful we have Steph. Maybe he can inspire you the way he inspires me. In Steph’s own words, “Be the best version of yourself in anything you do. You don’t have to live someone else’s story.”