Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr
Perhaps it is their ordinariness that sets them apart. Neither would look out of place showing up to the noon run at the local Y, a couple of spindly, amiable, not-quite-tall but not-quite-short guys. Indeed, we look at Steve Kerr and Steph Curry and want to think: That could be us.
Of course, it couldn’t. They are the two best three-point marksman, by percentage, in NBA history. Kerr has more championship rings than he can fit on his shooting hand. Curry is en route to a second MVP while logging a historic scoring season, obliterating the previous mark for made three-pointers, skewing every analytic measure created, and redefining how a generation of kids views the game.
To spend time around the Warriors as they chase down history is to see each lead in his own way. Kerr is self-deprecating, with a dry wit. Repeatedly, he makes it clear that this is about the team, not him – declining media profiles, redirecting credit, adopting an “I’m-just-lucky-to-be-here” stance. Behind the scenes, he empowers those around him to make decisions, reinforces the value of work/life balance (he recently brought in Michael Lewis to talk to the team), prepares assiduously, and meets problems head-on, going to players directly rather than through an intermediary.
In Curry, Kerr presides over the rare star who is, as the coach puts it, is “humble yet arrogant”—arrogant on the court and humble everywhere else. Curry rarely speaks up – he lets fiery forward Draymond Green do the preaching and castigating—but teammates notice his hours of extra training, his focus on family, the joy he takes in the game, and how he conducts himself publicly, forever gracious and accommodating despite adoration that’s led to his jersey becoming the best-selling across all sports.
Together, the two men thrive on being underestimated but, as anyone who’s watched their end-of-practice free throw shooting duels knows, they are fierce competitors. Strive to win; enjoy the process. This is the combination that fuels the Warriors.
—Chris Ballard, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and a Bay Area native