Here is a personal sportswriting philosophy, which works pretty well in life itself: Think first of your wife or your girlfriend, if not your mother. What would it take to make her care about, say, the starting point guard for the Golden State Warriors? (Apologies to the women out there who already know Stephen Curry’s pregame rituals — the double-handed Globetrotter routine, the balls airmailed from the tunnel — by heart). You might start, as I have, with the press conferences last year, during the NBA playoffs, when he not only cheerfully propped his then two-year-old daughter, Riley, on his lap, but allowed her to speak for all of us who have ever found postgame jock talk tedious (“Be quiet, Daddy. Be quiet!”).
Next, something more recent: Warriors-Cavs, a rematch of last year’s finals, in mid-January. It’s late in the first quarter, and there’s LeBron James, all headband and elbow sleeve, towering over our man and shoving him to the floor in frustration. Don’t feel bad for Dad. Notice the scoreboard: Golden State is already up by a dozen. Now rewind 15 or 20 seconds and you’ll see what has the King so frustrated. Our Warrior hero casually bounces the ball through centre court. He takes a couple of quick steps to the left — and then suddenly, disrespecting the three-point line, and before a defender can engage him, he chucks it toward the hoop from at least 30-feet out. Swish. His specialty is lobbing bombs — sometimes from farther out still, sometimes without bothering to watch them fall — almost as if on a dare. Until Steph Curry came along, you would have called a person who exhibits such behaviour uncoachable. Now you call him the best basketball player in the world.
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