LeBron James

Where Steph Curry's back-to-back MVPs rank among 2010s award winners

Where Steph Curry's back-to-back MVPs rank among 2010s award winners

The last decade was littered with some of the greatest MVP seasons in NBA history.

From Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 becoming the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to LeBron James taking his game to new heights during the 2012-13 season, there was no shortage of singular campaigns to remember. Of course, Warriors star Steph Curry was plenty unprecedented on his own, becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history in 2015-16 and the only player other than James to win the award multiple times in the 2010s.

[RELATED: Warriors' season reportedly over in NBA plan likely to pass]

Curry's MVP wins will stand the test of time, but where do those campaigns stand among his award-winning peers' in the last 10 years? Here's how I ranked the MVP-winning seasons of the 2010s, starting with arguably the biggest outlier among the bunch. 


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Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death


Steph Curry, Steve Kerr among sports stars outraged by George Floyd death

Face pressed to the street and eyes wide with panic, George Floyd was in handcuffs and begging for mercy. He feared he might die. His only hope was appealing to the humanity of the man threatening his life.

Humanity was denied by Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer whose left knee was resting on Floyd’s neck.

Even with cell phones recording video, Chauvin didn’t flinch. He didn’t back off until Floyd’s pleas went silent and he was unconscious. Moments later, he was dead.

Floyd had been subdued. Was not a threat. Yet he was subjected to further violence. So brazenly egregious was the brutality that visibly shaken Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey needed only a few hours to oversee the dismissal of Chauvin and three complicit officers.

The video is a graphic illustration of police terror in plain sight. It’s an example of the behavior that inspired former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to kneel in peaceful protest. If the reaction of high-profile sports figures is any indication at all, Floyd’s death could prompt high-profile dissent to become louder and more visible.

Consider this Instagram post from Warriors superstar Steph Curry.

“If this image doesn’t disturb you and piss you off, then [I don’t know]," Curry wrote. "I’ve seen a lot of people speak up and try to articulate how fed up and angry they are. All good and well, but it’s the same same same reality we live in. George Floyd. George Floyd. George has a family. George didn’t deserve to die. George pleaded for help and was just straight up ignored, which speaks loud and clear that his black life didn’t matter. George was murdered. George wasn’t human to that cop that slowly and purposefully took his life away."

Curry’s former Warriors teammate, Matt Barnes, replied on IG, saying, “Haven’t seen it said any better than my lil bro put it!!”

The Floyd tragedy, coming three weeks after the release of incriminating video of the vigilante shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, is but the latest reminder of America’s inability to forcefully and effectively address systemic racism.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, upon seeing the video, offered a response with broad implications on Twitter.

Us. As in those of us who condone such conduct. As in those of us in positions of authority, such as President Donald Trump. There is zero chance of reducing state-sanctioned murder without cooperation from those of us within in a power structure dominated by white men.

“This goes to something very deep in our nation’s soul,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “There’s definitely a responsibility of white people to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’ But we also have a responsibility in this country to reconcile our sins. That needs to happen.

“Sometimes I hear people say, ‘What are you complaining about? Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.’ They’re missing the point. We haven’t come to grips with it. If we had, we wouldn’t still see Confederate flags flying around, whether it’s at courthouses or at Trump rallies. I know some of those have been taken down over the past few years, but I feel there’s never truly been reconciliation with the sins of our past.”

Any decent history book reveals the United States was built on violence and suppression. Native Americans were massacred, their land seized. Slaves, most brought over from Africa, were treated as property to be punished or killed without a blink.

More than 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, blatant racial discrimination, most often symbolized by Jim Crow laws, still was the norm in the United States. Now, 56 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, racism continues. In three-plus years under Trump, there has been a resurgence in demonstrations of outright bigotry.

“I wish we had more outrage from the top,” Kerr said. “But it seems like it’s just the citizens who are expressing the most frustration.”

[RELATED: Stephen Jackson emotional over his friend's death in police custody]

The highest offices in the land have exhibited no sustained, committed desire to take healing action. But some of the citizens, black and white, have a voice that carries further than others. And they are expressing outrage at the consistency of such incidents.

Curry and Kerr are repulsed that such a small privilege as life, much less liberty, still can be revoked based on skin color. So are Stephen Jackson and Kyle Korver. So are LeBron James and retired NFL star Chris Long and former WNBA star Lisa Leslie. They all see what Kaepernick saw.

In the end, Americans of every stripe must ask themselves a simple question: How much more barbarism are we willing to tolerate?

What Warriors' Steph Curry needs do to join top-10 NBA players ever

What Warriors' Steph Curry needs do to join top-10 NBA players ever

During his two MVP seasons, Steph Curry was one of the most transcendent talents the NBA has ever seen. The greatest shooter in league history forever altered the way the game of basketball is played.

Kids used to want to "be like Mike," soaring through the air for an acrobatic dunk. Now, they wish to pull up from anywhere on the hardwood and drain a dagger 3-pointer ala Curry.

Curry already is the best player under 6-foot-3 in NBA history. He passed Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Isiah Thomas and Jerry West during his meteoric rise to the top of the game. He's already, according to my very scientific list, a top 20 all-time player.

But the top 10 is rarified air. It's reserved for the undisputed greats. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal and the like. It's a group that's hard to crack into, with the guardians of basketball history always standing watch.

It's an almost impossible group to enter. In order to do so, you must not only have a lasting impact on the game -- which Curry undoubtedly has -- but you must also have unimpeachable credentials when it matters most.

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To be clear, the "Curry hasn't performed well in The Finals" narrative is tired and lazy. But he also hasn't always played his best when the lights are brightest.

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP going to Andre Iguodala isn’t important. What likely will matter is the fact that -- even in the loss -- LeBron James was the best player in that series, as he was in the 2016 Finals when Curry and the Warriors blew a three-games-to-one lead.

Kevin Durant undoubtedly was the best player in both the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals. The injuries to Durant and Klay Thompson played a factor in the Warriors' loss to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, but Curry once again was outplayed by Kawhi Leonard. The difference between being the No. 11 player of all-time and No. 8 is razor-thin, so these things will matter.

To be clear, Curry was very good in the 2019 Finals with Durant missing all but a quarter and Thompson missing Game 3 before tearing his ACL in Game 6. Curry averaged 30.5 points per game, 6.0 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He scored 47 points in Game 3 and forced the Raptors to use a box-and-1 defense to try and contain him. Curry did just about all he could to will the Warriors to a title and keep the dynasty alive.

But he didn't hit the shot to breathe life back into the dynasty. With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Curry had a good look at a 3-pointer that would have given the Warriors the lead, sent the series to Game 7 and silenced all the doubters who believe Curry fails to deliver in the biggest moments.

Yet the ball clanged off the back of the rim and the Warriors' dynasty, as it was currently constructed, was no more.

In fact, Curry is 0-for-8 on go-ahead shots with fewer than 20 seconds to go in his NBA playoff career.

When debating the best of the best, all of that matters. All those above him have had their moments. Jordan had a number of game-winners. James erased a three-games-to-one deficit against one of the greatest teams of all-time. Magic's skyhook in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals will live on forever. The list goes on.

Another hurdle Curry will have clear is proving he can once again win a title without Durant. Yes, Curry led the Warriors to the 2015 title. But after blowing a three-games-to-one lead in 2016 and falling to the Raptors last season, questions will remain about Curry's ability to carry a team to the title if Durant's not there.

The 2015 title is often viewed with a blemish with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers playing short-handed without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

[RELATED: Warriors' end better than 'maddening' finale for MJ, Bulls]

There are no knocks on Curry. To be considered a top-10 player of all-time is an honor you must earn by proving you are better than some of the greats that came before you. Curry already has cracked the top 20 and perhaps even the top 15. His impact on the game of basketball never will be forgotten, and he'll finish his career as one of the best statistical players ever. Full stop.

But he still has work to do to reach the pinnacle. Perhaps he won't reach it. No player under 6-foot-5 is in the top 10. It's almost universally reserved for dominant post players or transcendent wings capable of hauling a team to a title.

Curry won't ever have the usage rate of a James Harden. The Warriors don't play that way, and he doesn't want to. He's the embodiment of an unselfish superstar, willing to do whatever is needed to win.

But he'll need to win again, without KD, and do so as the most impactful player in The Finals. That doesn't mean win Finals MVP, a subjective award that has been given to the wrong player a number of times. Curry must lead the Warriors back to the title and have a Finals moment that has eluded him thus far.

Only then will he be allowed into the NBA's hallowed ground.