Grant Cohn: Stephen Curry is NBA's Mr. Normal
Stephen Curry is normal.
Normal is the highest praise you can give a professional athlete. Normal is hard to find in the NBA.
Greatness is not. Greatness is easy to spot. We know how great Curry is. But his on-court dominance isn’t the only thing that makes him unique in his world. Other players take over games — you know who they are. Very few act like Curry.
After practice, Curry sits on a stool next to the court as dozens of media members cluster around him. He never puts himself above anyone, literally and figuratively. He carries himself like a maitre d’ at Chez Panisse who kneels next to you out of respect when he takes your drink order.
Curry answers questions until reporters run out of them. His press conferences typically last longer than 10 minutes. And he answers all types of questions — good ones, bad ones, pointed ones, softball ones, informed ones, insane ones — and he answers with the same level of generosity and thoughtfulness every time.
He looks you in the eye, thinks before he responds and takes pride in his answers. Never seems stingy or rude. Never takes a tough question personally. Never acts like a celebrity. He acts like your favorite neighbor who’ll lend you the electric drill in a heartbeat.
Curry should not be this normal. He grew up the wealthy son of a former NBA player, Dell Curry. Steph had every advantage as a child. You and I cannot relate to his upbringing, and neither can most of his millionaire teammates who grew up poor or working class. And yet, Curry is the most down-to-earth star in American sports.
Draymond Green is not down to earth, although he may have been when he was younger. He still seems like a fundamentally good person. But just a couple weeks ago, he disrespected his head coach, Steve Kerr, in front of the media.
Kerr was sitting on the stool talking to reporters. Green was practicing his jump shot while music blared over the loudspeakers inside the Warriors gym. Kerr couldn’t hear himself talk and he couldn’t hear questions from reporters. So, he asked Green to turn off the music. Green refused and kept shooting. Just ignored the head coach. Forget Kerr.
A reporter asked Kerr who’s in charge here. Kerr frowned, shrugged and said, “I guess not me.”
Can you imagine Curry ever acting like that toward his coach? Never in a million years.
Kevin Durant is not down to earth. Again, he seems fundamentally decent, but he sulked all season because not enough people considered him the best player in the world. Fragile ego. And he has feuded with reporters who merely asked him about free agency — a topic he made relevant because he chose not to sign a long-term contract with the Warriors. He can opt out of his deal this offseason. Most people expect he will opt out and sign with the New York Knicks, just so he can have his own team and win more MVP awards.
Can you imagine Curry ever acting like that?
Russell Westbrook is not down to earth. He may have been when he went to UCLA — we were there at the same time. Took a class together on dinosaurs and their relatives. He showed up and took notes like everyone else. Seemed interested in dinosaurs, not to mention their relatives.