OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry couldn’t help himself. He let his emotion tumble off his tongue and, well, clipped one of his angel wings.
Curry dropped an f-bomb Sunday that was heard by a few dozen of the 19,596 fans at Oracle Arena but deciphered by millions of TV-watching lip-readers around the globe.
So hyper-aware of it was Curry that had a ready response when asked about it after the Warriors laid a 126-85 beating on the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
“I already know,” he said.
“I blacked out,” Curry explained, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “I blacked out.”
To his credit, there was no denial and no awkward attempt at damage control. He was busted and he knew it.
Keep in mind, now, Curry does charity work in his sleep. He raises a finger to give thanks after every basket. He pens bible verses on his sneakers. He makes an annual trip to a church in Oakland to personally donate goods to a community in need.
Yet there he was, late in the third quarter, single-handedly destroying the Rockets, getting carried away. After driving in for a finger roll that gave the Warriors a 24-point lead, Curry yanked out his mouthpiece with his left hand, while gesturing with his right hand and shouting words that will follow him forever.
“This is my f---ing house.”
He was, in the metaphorical sense, telling a precise truth. Curry is the most popular player the Warriors have ever had. He’s a two-time MVP who has been at the vanguard of basketball’s 3-point revolution. His 3-pointers have a way of crushing opponents and fortifying the blood of fans at Oracle.
Curry entered Game 3 being trailed by the nagging sounds of worry. There were questions about his left knee and whether it was fully healed from the Grade 2 MCL sprain sustained in March. There were concerns about his defense and whether expending so much energy on that end was siphoning his vigor on offense, where he struggled with his shot.
There was hope that, maybe, he could return to the cozy bosom of Oracle and prove that all was well.
After a mediocre first half -- sub-mediocre by his standard -- Curry came out in the third quarter and fried every defender who dared to get in front him. He scored 18 points in less than 10 minutes, making every shot he took: 7-of-7 overall, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
It was during this dazzling takeover that the weight of so many others worrying about him, asking him about his game, slid off his back.
And he wanted to let everybody know how good it felt.
“A lot of it was just talking to myself, almost like you've got to be your biggest fan sometimes,” he said. “No matter what questions I was being asked over the first two games or what the expectations were, I had the highest expectations for myself. And you've just got to...find whatever you want to get going.
“Obviously it felt good and you want to use that energy to show your teammates that you're here, you're with them, get the crowd into it.”
Curry still pays a fine to his mother for his turnovers. It’s not substantial, but it adds up and, if Sonya Curry were so inclined to save it, could pay for a nice car.
Well, Mrs. Curry may fine her eldest son for this, too. Curry may volunteer penance. There is a price to be paid for Curry’s frat-boy moment.
There’s also, in some quarters, a sense of relief. Yes, Curry is back and teaching lessons on the court. But he’s also human, capable of the kind of momentary lapse that he’d like to rewind and erase.
Curry’s image has been scrubbed and rescrubbed by a thousand loofahs. It has been, for some, a little too clean. There is dirt on it now, all because he let his emotions off the leash for a moment.
||Warriors 119, Rockets 106
||Rockets 127, Warriors 105
||Warriors 126, Rockets 85
||Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
||Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
||Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
||Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm