After Steph Curry and the Warriors eliminated the Rockets in shocking fashion Friday night, an amazing story came to light. It came from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, who tells amazing stories all the time. But this one, in fact, was an all-timer. From Thompson:
On the night before Friday’s Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, after arriving from the Bay Area, Curry wanted to get some shots up at Toyota Center. The Warriors’ do-it-all manager, Eric Housen, booked the court from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. so Curry could work on his shot. Somehow, Rockets guard Chris Paul got wind. He decided to go to Toyota Center to get shots up, nixing Curry’s reservations. The Warriors’ point guard offered to stick to half a court, but Paul wasn’t having it. Curry was kicked off the Toyota Center court.
Is this incredible or what? I mean even for Chris Paul, who has an ocean of competitive pettiness swirling inside him, this is another level. Opposing players shoot in opposing gyms all the time. It’s basically a time-honored NBA tradition, an absolute bare minimum display of professional hospitality. What Paul did was hilarious in one sense, a throwback to the Bill Laimbeer time of rivals actually hating one another rather than spending summers together frolicking on banana boats in the south of Spain.
It was also dangerous.
And man did it ever burn Paul and the Rockets.
There are just some giants you don’t wake up when they’re in a basketball slumber, and Steph Curry is one of them. Dude was in the middle of the worst shooting stretch of his career. Sure, he had a little run at the end of Game 5, but all in all this guy was sleeping on the job. And Paul just walks up to him and pokes him with a pointy stick? Seriously? You thought it was a good idea to stoke the fire of one of the fieriest competitors in the world?
It’s true, too. Curry’s competitiveness is legendary. Talk to anyone around the league and it’s one of the first words that will come up about him. Competitor. This is a guy who has been internalizing disrespect and turning it into an Amazonian snake’s venom from the time he was in high school. He was already motivated by all the people chirping about his struggles, saying he couldn’t win without Kevin Durant and he’s always been a postseason underachiever and blah blah blah. Dude was cooking hotter than a campfire, and Paul just willingly sprays gas on him?
And don’t think for a second that this is just some made-up media reach that this even bothered Curry, all in the name of a good story. Every slight bothers Curry. And he remembers every detail. Again from Thompson:
Draymond Green stood outside the visiting locker room at the Toyota Center, greeting teammates as they came in. When Stephen Curry made his way through the crowd, he looked straight at Green — before they slapped hands and bumped chests — and screamed, “Kick me off the court again, boy!”
And Green replied to Curry’s taunt by screaming, “Kick him off! Kick him off!”
Yeah, Chris Paul done messed up. Curry went from zero halftime points to 33 second-half points, 21 in the fourth quarter, 16 in the final five minutes to, and in the end, the Warriors once again ripped out the Rockets’ heart and fed it to them. And now Chris Paul will have the gym all to himself all summer long.