In this era of player empowerment, with players citing personal factors while navigating NBA employment opportunities, Stephen Curry is decidedly old-school. As other greats come and go, he consistently expresses his desire for a full career with the Warriors.
It’s not just idle talk. Curry acknowledged Monday, after the team’s first training-camp practice, the discussions with the front office about an extension on his current contract, which expires in 2022, when he’ll be 34 years old.
“We have conversations,” he said. “Everything's on the table right now. Just in terms of everything I’ve talked about (regarding) being a Warrior and what the future holds. Obviously, I’m fully committed on what that is and understanding that I’ve got to do what's right for me and the team, and then having those conversations. I feel blessed to be in that position where I can say that and truly believe it.
“It’s a matter of just letting things play out the way they should.”
Curry has every reason to want to retire in the place he initially wanted to avoid. He was been the driving force behind the Warriors rising from a languishing franchise with a sullied image to a destination celebrated for its championships and culture.
Initially hoping to land with the New York Knicks, Curry was drafted by the Warriors in 2009 at the insistence of former coach/shot-caller Don Nelson. Eleven years later, Stephen is the longest tenured player in the league still with his original team.
And loving life as a Warrior. Curry is looking for a fourth championship with the Warriors. His family is in its fifth and perhaps final Bay Area home. The subject of retiring in Charlotte, where he spent most of his formative youth, occasionally comes up. And Curry is quick to flick it away, pointing out that the Bay Area is “home.”
The Warriors have to be grateful for what Curry has done for the franchise. And, my goodness, they don’t want to know where they would be without him.
It’s reasonable to wonder if – despite the fervent ambitions of CEO Joe Lacob and co-executive chairman Peter Guber – Chase Center would have been built without the sudden popularity of the Warriors, with Curry providing most of the momentum.
That’s why it matters for Stephen to finish what he started.
After one playoff appearance in the 15 years before Curry’s arrival, the Warriors have made seven trips in his 10 healthy seasons. Their last championship and NBA Finals appearance came 34 years before Curry arrived and 13 years before he was born. With him, they’ve since reached five Finals, winning three titles.
Who else in post-merger age (since 1976) has done that? Dirk Nowitzki comes closest, being drafted by a Dallas franchise that he missed the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons before drafting him in 1998. And Dirk retired as a member of the Mavericks.
Just as Tim Duncan retired as a member of the Spurs and Kobe Bryant retired as a member of the Lakers. Duncan wouldn’t have it any other way. Kobe wouldn’t have it any other way.
Stephen’s appreciation for Kobe is evident in Curry’s Twitter profile, which features two photos of him with the late Lakers legend – one early in Curry’s career, one late in Kobe’s career.
This is why it matters for Stephen to finish where he started.
Curry believes Lacob and Guber are committed to excellence. They’ve shown they’re willing to hire smartly, spend the money and make the bold decisions required to get there. Do whatever it takes to compete for championships on a regular basis.
“I want to be a part of that,” Curry said.
Though he wouldn’t rule the possibility of playing at age 40, Curry wants no part of the globetrotting now in fashion. LeBron is on his third team, fourth if you count the Cavaliers twice. Kevin Durant is on his third team, in his fourth city. Russell Westbrook last week landed on his third team. James Harden is on his second team, longing for a third. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are on their fifth teams.
Every one of these players is headed to the Hall of Fame.
Every one of them will have representatives from different organizations.
Not Curry. He’s a Warrior and wants to stay one as long as he’s playing NBA basketball. It’s good for the league, even better for the franchise.
Because it matters to him, the rarity of finishing what he started, where he started.