Steve Kerr calls Warriors’ Stephen Curry the ‘modern MJ’
It may be a debate about Michael Jordan being the GOAT on the court, but what goes unquestioned is his influence around the game — from the still sky-high sales of Air Jordan’s to the branding and commercials, not to mention a generation of loyal fans that worship him to this day.
Steve Kerr saw that up close. Now he coaches Stephen Curry and sees the same thing — like MVP chants in Washington, D.C.
“He’s the modern MJ. I used to see this playing with the Bulls. Half the crowd’s got red 23 jerseys on and now half the crowd’s got blue and yellow 30 jerseys.
“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 because we’ve never seen anything like him. And I think people can relate to him because he’s not this superhero, in terms of his size and strength. He’s 6-foot-3, 185 [pounds]. There’s a lot of people out there that size but none who can do what he can do. He’s incredibly inspiring and as a result, we get a ton of support on the road.”
Kerr is the person best suited to make this comparison, Curry was asked about Kerr’s comments and had this response, via Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area.
“I think everything you take the floor and you feel that energy, I don’t ever take that for granted because it wasn’t always like that,” Curry said. “And that’s what we play the game for, in a sense of fans being a part of the journey, coming out and spending their hard-earned money on tickets, and creating the atmosphere like we had tonight, it was, from the time we ran out on the floor for warmups, throughout the whole game, it was amazing.
“Fortunately, we feel that most nights on the road and at home, obviously. That means a lot. So I’ll leave that to him to make the comparison but it is special knowing what our accomplishments have done in terms of bringing that atmosphere night after night, even on the road.”
On the influence level, Curry can get mentioned in the same breath as Jordan (and maybe passed LeBron James in some ways, although LeBron’s influence with players off the court in terms of branding and how he handles his business has changed a generation). Kerr is not wrong, see the Warriors play on the road anywhere and the arena is filled with Curry jerseys — often on the youth at the game, fans ages 10 to 16 who then head play in local leagues, or for their junior high or high school, and try to emulate what Curry does. Those fans fill the arenas where the Warriors will play more than an hour before game time to watch him warm up.
Kerr also hit the nail on the head with Curry being more relatable. It’s one of the reasons that Allen Iverson and Derrick Rose reached such levels of fame — it’s hard to imagine yourself as LeBron, a massive 6'9" human being touched by the gods and bestowed historic athleticism. Same with Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo — we admire and appreciate their greatness, but the fandom feels slightly different. Curry is much more normal human-sized. Fans can envision themselves in his shoes.
It also only works because he wins — if Curry didn’t have four rings, it would all feel hollow. But he has won, and with that turned the Warriors into a national brand for a generation of fans.