Warriors star Steph Curry heard all the haters. He heard all the doubters.
Prior to the 2020-21 NBA season, the critics were out in full force and Curry heard every single one of them.
Curry has never backed down from those who have doubted his on-court ability and last season was no different.
After missing most of the 2019-20 NBA season due to a hand injury, Curry returned with a vengeance during the delayed and pandemic-shortened 2020-21 NBA season. Without Kevin Durant, who left in free agency in 2019, and Klay Thompson, who was rehabbing a second major lower leg injury, Curry put up historic numbers and led the league in scoring, averaging 32.0 points over 63 games.
On Jan. 3, with the Warriors sitting at 2-3 following a 25-point home loss to Portland, Curry torched the Trail Blazers for a career-high 62 points in the second game of a back-to-back at Chase Center.
"I mean, there was a moment at the beginning of last year, before the Portland game and the 62 [points], that I heard a lot of noise and I heard a lot of talk about who I wasn't and we were going to get exposed and I was going to get exposed and all that type of stuff," Curry told Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday. "I definitely took pride in shutting all that up. But it's also the realization that when you're in the fight every year, in that chase to the mountain top and you're trying to win championships, I might get it more than other people just because I wasn't supposed to be here.
"But I don't think you're ever going to get that love like that until it's all said and done. So it doesn't matter to me. It doesn't matter what the narrative is. I definitely did appreciate that I played extremely well and reminded everyone what I was capable of. And I'm carrying that confidence into this year. It's kind of how I've approached everything. It starts with me and the internal battle. You can get some fuel from other places when it's necessary. But it's always just staying in the present."
Prior to Curry dropping 62 on the Blazers, former NBA veteran Channing Frye questioned Curry's legacy and whether the two-time NBA MVP would be able to lead the Warriors to a championship without stars surrounding him.
After the 62-point effort against the Blazers, Curry took to Instagram for a subtle message to his detractors.
The Warriors finished with a 39-33 record and missed the NBA playoffs after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference play-in tournament. Still, Curry was back doing what he enjoys and was lighting up opponents for 40-plus points regularly.
"The last part is that I found fun again, in terms of just playing basketball at the highest level," Curry told Isola and Scalabrine. "Sometimes you can put a little too much pressure on yourself and feel like you have to keep proving something. But at the end of the day, that's why, I think last year at the All-Star Game, I said I had nothing to prove, but a lot left to accomplish. And I truly live by that."
Curry will continue to have doubters, even as he puts up mind-boggling numbers and marches towards the all-time 3-point record. The non-believers never will go away.
The good news for Dub Nation and Curry fans worldwide is that the critics will continue to fuel his fire, meaning he's likely to put on more 40-plus point shows this season and beyond.