The “M-V-P” chant is heard so often when players shoot free throws at their home arenas, it’s lost a lot of meaning. It can even come off as a joke at times, like when a stray fan or two shouted those three letters as Ognjen Kuzmic headed to the line in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 117-91 victory over the Thunder.
But when the fans at Oracle Arena chanted “M-V-P” for Stephen Curry during the same game, it was loud. Really loud. And for good reason. Curry’s Warriors have the best record in the league at 27-5, which means he has a legitimate shot at becoming the franchise’s first league Most Valuable Player since Wilt Chamberlain did it as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors back in 1959-60.
Curry isn’t shying away from the discussion, either.
“It’s always been a goal. You want to be on a winning team, and you want to be playing well on that team and having a huge part in that success. Obviously it’s a tangible goal right now. I don’t go into each game thinking I’ve got to put up a certain stat line to continue that trend,” he said after 19 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals against Oklahoma City, including a three he launched from Hayward.
Right now Curry’s main competition for the award is James Harden, who leads the league in scoring (Curry went into Monday’s game tied for sixth). Harden and Curry are both registering better defensive numbers than ever before while leading successful squads. But the Rockets are 23-11 — good enough for fifth in the Western Conference, five games behind the high-flying Warriors.
It’s not that Curry is outwardly campaigning for his first MVP trophy, but the noise must be hard to ignore. He’s a top-five player in the league, an international star who can affect games in a variety of ways. Everyone knows about the long-distance shooting, but his ballhandling is second to none, his touch inside the paint has gotten scary-good (the glass is indeed Curry’s friend after struggling with layups just a couple seasons ago), he rebounds surprisingly well for his size and makes highlight plays like the bounce pass between Steven Adams’ legs on a nightly basis, plus he’s second in the league in steals.
However, more than anything else the MVP is about winning percentage and playoff seeding. Curry knows that if he follows his incredibly successful rookie coach, the spoils that come with winning will follow.
“It’s just a matter of knowing what I’m supposed to do on the floor every night and people will notice. My job is to lead the team the way that coach asks me to do and the way I’ve been playing. We have something good going on and I think that’ll take care of itself down the stretch.”
That’s head coach Steve Kerr, if you were wondering. While Curry is a well-known MVP candidate, not everyone knows all the finer details of his best season yet.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 6, 2015