First Stephen Curry — two-time NBA MVP on an enchanted ride to his second NBA title — had another subpar performance in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Then he topped it off by having a pseudo-meltdown at the end of his underwhelming game.
After a questionable call that gave him his sixth and fatal foul for the game, Curry snapped. He barked at the ref, got slapped with a technical foul and booted from the game. Then he chucked his mouthpiece into the crowd, which allegedly hit the son of the Cavs’ owner.
Then there’s the resounding sense that Curry is getting schooled by LeBron James, the de facto best player on the planet. Curry may be the titular prince of the league, but many feel LeBron is still the king.
More than that, LeBron may be creeping into Curry’s heretofore cool head.
Then add the comments by Curry’s wife, Ayesha, who made some ill-advised remarks after the game.
Everyone can appreciate a loving, devoted spouse. But no doubt Ayesha Curry crossed the line of good judgement when she accused the NBA of being “rigged” for “money.”
Someone of her heft should have learned long ago that anything leaked into the social media ether will be parsed and pulverized. It’s particularly surprising because the Currys have quietly become the first family of pro basketball.
Stephen has turned the game on its ear with his NASA-range shooting ability. The game has long been designed from the inside out, with the paint as the vortex, where the money is made. The Splash Brothers have since changed the metrics for winning basketball.
Curry also has the low-key regularity, Clark Kent contours of everyman. Just flip off the glasses, peel off the jumpsuit and he became a superhero while looking like the rest of us.
But in this series we’ve found that he’s all too human, missing shots at an unlikely rate. He’s being schooled by his only foe in the MVP debate, the only player we can justifiably assert is just plain better.
And then we discovered that Curry does crack. There’s no doubt he doesn’t get the benefit of the calls the way the icons normally do. The refs historically swallowed their whistles for Jordan and Larry and Magic.
Maybe it’s because he’s still relatively new to the orbit of icons. Maybe it’s because he’s so relatively, physically small. But no matter why the delayed respect from the refs or his peers, Stephen Curry should know better than to lose his composure in the fourth quarter of a clinching game in the NBA Finals.
Adding to the avalanche, of course, was his wife’s social media meltdown. There were a few haunting preambles. First she complained about the wait to get a seat to see the game. Then there was some talk about her father being mistreated by the police.
So if she were on edge entering the game, she was in virtual, full-throated fury when she suffered that final, foot-in-mouth malady over game-fixing. She quickly deleted the post and flashed her mea culpa. Like her hubby, she ran off at the mouth and tossed her virtual mouthpiece into the Twitter netherworld.
This won’t end the world, of course. But in this warped world where we’re no longer judge by character but rather by 140 characters, you take your vocational life into your hands every time you pound the “send” button.
In the zero-sum calculus of pro sports, the end will justify the means. If the Warriors collect themselves in time to win one more game, then the nuclear meltdown of the Curry family will be seen as a campy metaphor for family life, a referendum on the rabid devotion of a loving wife and the uber-competitive NBA MVP, who wears his heart on his jersey.
The Warriors, almost in comical chorus, belched the same mantra, which reads like, “If you told us, before the season, that we’d be playing for the NBA title in Oakland, do-or-die, we’d have taken it…”
It all makes for a most gripping Game 7, where Curry, the current prince of the sport, gets one more chance assume the crown of King James.
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden. Follow him on Twitter @JasonKeidel.