We all got nothing but time.
That’s why the SLAM PH Team decided to rewatch some of their favorite UAAP, PBA and NBA games. They dug up buried emotions, watched out for things that they missed and basically enjoyed two hours of good basketball.
Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
On February 28, 2016, I woke up excited to watch my hero, Kevin Durant, kick-ass in a titanic match-up against the defending champions. A couple of hours later, I stumbled out of the house in disbelief with what I had just witnessed. I didn’t have much words about how I felt after watching the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder battle to a classic finish except:
Screw you Steph Curry.
Fine, I said something more aggressive than screw. But for the sake of this piece, let’s keep it as PG as possible.
The early 2010s served as the start of the passing of the torch from Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan’s generation to the next. 2016 was the final year of that process; the end of a legendary era, making way for a new one.
Every generation has a face and this upcoming one needed a representative. LeBron James was firmly in the lead, but Kevin Durant was also making a strong case after winning MVP during the 2013-2014 season. We were robbed of a showdown between the two titans the year after because of KD’s injury, but in 2016, it looked like we were going to be treated to a winner takes all showdown come the Finals. A rematch of their clash from 2012, with both superstars at their respective primes.
But 2015, that gap year between Durant’s MVP season and this start of a new era introduced to us the Golden State Warriors. The group was led by the babyface Stephen Curry and there couldn’t have been a better leader for the team.
He was fresh and different from the likes of Durant and James. He wasn’t a physical freak that could dominate from anywhere on the court. Instead, Curry wreaked havoc with his magical three-point shooting. It was so magical, in fact, that he won the 2015 MVP and won a championship for the Bay Area.
He could have been a new contender to become the face of this new generation. But instead, others thought he got lucky thanks to a couple of breaks that went his way. From Durant’s injury to facing a depleted Cleveland Cavaliers team in the Finals, a number of fans placed an asterisk on that championship of the Warriors. Most importantly, they weren’t sold on the idea that Curry was legit.
If the start of the 2016 season was of any indication, Curry and the Warriors certainly took note of that slight.
The Warriors came out blazing, notching win after win after win until they racked up 24 straight. The entire group was functioning like a well-oiled machine and at the core of this attack was Curry. He was already so damn good during his 2015 campaign, but he proved that was even better in 2016. He was straight up making the impossible happen from ridiculous distances all over the court. It was unbelievable.
It was so unbelievable in fact, that haters felt like Curry was only going through the longest hot streak in NBA history. He was only getting lucky. He still didn’t deserve to be ranked near likes of Durant and James. They expected him to sputter in the Playoffs.
Which brings us to the 28th of February, the date when I woke up excited to watch a basketball game between OKC and the Dubs. The naysayers were salivating at the thought of Curry failing. Fans of Steph, on the other hand, couldn’t wait for their hero to shut the haters up.
Oklahoma City had control of most of the game and a lot of this was thanks to Durant. He took over in the most KD way possible; silent but goddamn lethal. With 14.5 seconds remaining, Durant hit a contest three-pointer from the right wing to give OKC a four-point lead. That should have been the dagger. That should have been KD’s way of saying, “You’re not in our level yet, Steph. Get back in line.”
Some way, somehow, the Warriors found a way to climb back to force the game into overtime. Durant could have just hammered Golden State for another five minutes, but he fouled out less than a minute into the overtime period. The player to send him to the bench? Steph. Funny how the world works sometimes.
With Durant out, Curry took over. Mike Breen said it best, it was a Curry Eruption. By the time the game had entered the final minute of overtime, Curry already had 43 points to his name. It was a signature performance from Curry. At that point we couldn’t have expected him to do more. Except he did.
Off a miss from Russell Westbrook, Curry demanded for the ball and dribbled to their side of the court with five seconds left. They had a timeout, but Curry decided not to use it. Instead, Curry, way downtown.
You know what, Mike Breen said it best.
Mouths were left agape. Eyes were wide open. Both fans and haters couldn’t believe what they had just watched. With the game on the line and an option to call a timeout, Curry elected to pull-up from near half-court. It didn’t make sense, but just like he’s done all season long, he found a way to make the impossible come to life.
This game didn’t just serve as a win for the Dubs and as a loss for the Thunder. It represented Curry permanently barging his way into the discussion of best players in the league. It didn’t make sense. He wasn’t freakishly athletic nor was he physically gifted. He simply turned the unbelievable into reality.
Let me transparent; firstly, I was part of the group which were doubters of Curry. And secondly, I didn’t really say Screw you Steph Curry. It went along the lines of…
Fuck you Steph Curry.
But I didn’t say that out of disrespect. It was my and the rest of his haters’ way of showing our respect to what this guy just accomplished that night. What else is there to say when you watch something impossible?