Minutes after igniting a comeback win in overtime against the NBA-best Bucks, Stephen Curry went back to work in the weight room doing sets of lunges off a bench with dumbbells in hand.
It’s his typical postgame workout these days, and it’s paying dividends even though he was recently sidelined.
The reigning NBA Finals MVP — now in his 14th season — turned 35 on Tuesday. And is arguably good as ever.
“I think he’s definitely the best-conditioned athlete that I’ve ever been around in the NBA. I mean, there’s just no one who combines the work ethic with the skill set,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And the ability to put all that together in this package of incredible endurance and quickness. ... It’s amazing just to see what he puts himself through to be ready. He is definitely a guy who’s going to age well. He’s still playing at a really high level and it’s incredible to watch him work.”
The Warriors need him to be at his best. Golden State is battling for homecourt in the postseason, which could be pivotal in defending the title. The champs’ road struggles — they are 7-26 away from home — have been well-documented.
It seems to be fueling Curry, who joked a couple of years ago he might play until he’s 40. The 6-foot-2 guard is doing all he can to prolong his career even as lingering injuries creep in more often and demand management.
He recently returned to the lineup from an 11-game absence with a left leg injury that cost him a month of playing time. He sat out another 11 games because of a partially dislocated left shoulder and has missed 26 games in all, also dealing with right elbow soreness and discomfort in his left ankle.
It’s taking more time behind the scenes now for Curry to maintain his nonstop movement on the court, like those postgame strength sessions and visits to the training room.
Draymond Green is impressed.
“Old is what you make it. If you go out with an old mindset you’re going to look old. I don’t think he goes out with an old mindset. I don’t think he approaches his day to day with an old mindset,” Green said. “He approaches his day to day better than I’ve ever seen him approach it before. He’s locked in, true pro. He gets it, and it’s showing up in his game, that at 35 ... he’s still able to do it at that level, night in and night out, with no sign of slowing down.”
On or off the court.
While defending their NBA title is Curry’s priority, he participated in an Under Armour campaign that launched on his birthday. The focus is to bring further awareness to the importance of being part of a team to get through the highs and lows in life, though it’s not a new ad campaign for the apparel company that manufactures Curry’s signature shoe. Under Armour introduced its “Protect This House” slogan 20 years ago.
Curry considers the new message important at a time when people have spent the past three years in a pandemic while witnessing social injustice, global crisis and struggles with mental health.
He hopes to provide examples of how community matters through “a call to action to acknowledge and embrace the spirit of being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
“From a societal perspective and everything that everybody’s been through over the last three or four years, how life has changed dramatically, I think one thing that remains true and is probably even more important, everybody longs to be part of a community and a family, a team,” Curry said in a video interview with The Associated Press. “And there’s a sense of pride and you embrace the spirit of that.”
None of it comes as a surprise to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.
“He is somebody to look up to, to follow,” Budenholzer said of Curry. “His energy, I don’t know how he does it all. He’s everywhere all the time, for great people and great causes.”
Kerr, too, marvels at Curry’s capacity to seemingly do it all. The coach compares him to his own old star teammate in Chicago — Michael Jordan.
“He’s the modern MJ,” Kerr said. “Steph transcends the game. He elicits an emotion from people, I think because he’s so awe-inspiring with his play, that no matter where we go there are people cheering for him and can’t wait to see him perform.”
The celebrity comes at a price of privacy, but Curry clearly still enjoys being a face of the league and all the responsibility that entails. Late last month, he dressed in disguise with dreadlocks hanging from a Golden State cap at a Warriors team store and surprised 20 kids with a shopping spree.
“I still have the disguise that I might pull out when necessary if I want to go to the movies or something,” Curry joked. “I might just change the hat out for the movie.”