The NBA's Most Valuable Player for the last two seasons, the Golden State Warriors point guard is excited at the prospect of making his Olympic Games debut with the USA at Rio 2016.
Speaking in late November 2015, Stephen Curry said that if his NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, managed to get to the 2016 finals and retain their title, he would have around three weeks “to refresh and get ready for Rio”. What the point guard did not know at the time was that he was about to hit the richest vein of form of his already storied career , a run that would lead to him becoming the NBA’s first ever unanimous MVP award winner, an accolade that he also collected last season.
Images of Curry sinking three-pointers from all over the court and slaloming his way through opposing defences have gone global in a year in which he has led his team to 73 regular-season wins, an all-time best. In the process, the insatiable Curry scored a record 402 three-pointers, notched a career-high 30.1 points per game – the highest average in NBA since the great Michael Jordan hit 31.50 in 1991 – and also racked up an average of 2.1 steals per game, more than anyone else.
Inspired by Curry, the Golden State Warriors are still on course to retain the NBA title they won last year and have their sights set on checking into the finals, which begin on 2 June.
Rio here we come
Born on 14 March 1988 in Akron, Ohio, Curry worked his way up through the national youth ranks before helping the USA defeat Serbia 74-69 in the final of the 2007 FIBA U-19 World Championship. On the domestic scene he starred with the Davidson Wildcats in the NCAA before turning pro with the Golden State Warriors in 2009.
The following year Curry formed part of the USA side that won the FIBA world title in Turkey without losing a game, the Americans capping their flawless run with an 81-64 defeat of the tournament hosts in Istanbul.
Dogged by recurring injury problems with his right ankle in the next two seasons, Curry failed to make the shortlist for the USA team at London 2012. “Very disappointed,” he said at the time. “I had a great experience with it two years ago, playing with those guys and Coach K (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski) and the whole experience. I had my hopes up that I was going to be able to repeat that – at least make it to the trial stage – so I'm really disappointed. But it’s motivation for 2016.”
Shooting for the stars
Curry shrugged that setback off by hitting the kind of form that has now made him a global star, with his superlative dribbling and shooting skills making him an undisputed pick for the Western Conference in the All Star Game and also firing Golden State Warriors on their inexorable rise, which they capped by winning the NBA crown in 2015.
Starring once more for his country, Curry made a telling contribution at the 2014 World Championship in Spain, playing his part as they once again went unbeaten and chipping in with 10 points in the 129-92 defeat of Serbia in the final in Madrid.
Not surprisingly, the 28-year-old point guard features on the USA’s 30-man shortlist for the Rio Games, alongside double Olympic champion LeBron James, and is set to form part of the 12-player roster that will head to Brazil with the objective of earning the States a third consecutive Olympic title.
“I’m definitely excited to be part of the Olympic team,” said the hottest talent in the NBA. “To have that experience in Rio for the Olympics will be a dream come true. With the culture down there, the sights, and just the whole Olympic experience, it should be a once-in-a-lifetime memory.”
He added: “I had a great time in Brazil on holiday with my family when I was 18, and to go back and represent my country and play with all the other great NBA talent that’s going to make up the Team USA roster, it’s going to be a lot of fun. And it’ll be here before you know it. That’s the cool part.”