Everyone Loves Stephen Curry
For the best shooter in the draft, expectations were a bit higher -- and yet, for some reason, no one in UNLV's Cox Pavilion seemed to mind.
Curry consistently heard some of the loudest cheers from Saturday's crowd, despite his early struggles. He rallied in the second half by making eight of his final 14 attempts on his way to a game-high 29 points, leading Warriors to a thrilling 98-95 overtime win against the Kings. He clearly fed off the crowd's energy, celebrating at least one clutch shot down the stretch by slapping hands with the fans sitting courtside.
Curry has been quick to win fans wherever he goes: he was the sentimental favorite among Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden, and Golden State's front office was so happy he fell into their lap that the Dubs allegedly nixed a deal with the Suns that would have netted Amar'e Stoudemire. And now, after just two games, he's the runaway crowd favorite in Las Vegas.
How does he explain his unusual popularity?
"I think me playing three years in college and really making a story there opened the doors for me being welcomed a lot of places. People like to latch on to that story we made at Davidson in the [2008 NCAA] Tournament, going to the Elite Eight and stuff like that," Curry said after Saturday's game. "I'm just kind of riding that wave right now. It's fun, and hopefully it continues."
Perhaps a more pressing question will be whether his new teammates will be just as affectionate once summer league closes and the regular season kicks off. It's one thing to demand the ball and carry the team in a small gym in July, and it's another altogether to fend off ball-hungry scorers like Corey Maggette, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson.
"I hope to go into training camp and prove myself to be a great player that can be productive on the court with those guys," Curry said. "I know that they're going to get theirs and really do what they do best, and that's score the ball and demand the ball. So I've got to find my role on the team and see what happens."
In the meantime, the Warriors have implored Curry to stay aggressive, both in terms of looking for his jump shot and getting into the lane. While he may never finish at the rim like a stronger, more athletic player Tyreke Evans, his Sacramento counterpart on Saturday, he did show off a surprising crossover to get into the lane and draw fouls. He finished the game converting 10 of 11 free throws.
"I shoot the ball very well, but teams are going to recognize that and they're going to press up against me, so I have to find another way to score," he said. "I think being able to put it on the ground and blow by guys and keep them on their heels will make me a better player ... They're going to play you to your weaknesses, and I guess that's one of mine now, so I got to be able to do that."