The Golden State Warriors' magical run through the 2013 NBA playoffs has come to an end, as the San Antonio Spurs won 94-82 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals to clinch the series. In turn, the most invigorating story of the season has ended.
However, Stephen Curry's superstar status is safe after a magnificent run through the playoffs.
Curry's final performance of the 2012-13 season saw him go for 22 points, six assists, four rebounds, one block and a steal. With no other Warriors topping 15 points, it was yet another performance in which Curry stepped up and nearly led Golden State to an improbable victory.
Even in defeat, Curry's reputation is intact.
The postseason always presents a player with the opportunity to break out, thus making the official leap to elite. This year, the basketball gods bestowed that honor upon Curry and thus showed the world what Warriors fans have been saying for years.
Curry is legitimate.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's a crime that Stephen Curry wasn't an All-Star this year.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 3, 2013
How was he not an All-Star this season?
For those questioning whether Curry can sustain this level of success, let's do a bit of a review. Not only for the postseason, but for the regular season as well.
In turn, we'll realize that Curry's postseason performance wasn't a fluke—it was a statement.
Regular Season in Review
The 2012-13 NBA regular season began with one of the worst performances of Stephen Curry's career, as he went for five points on 2-of-14 shooting, along with seven rebounds and three assists. It didn't get much prettier during the first month of the season, as Curry's 18.5 points came via a field-goal percentage of 41.2.
And that was the end of that.
From November 29 to December 5, Curry rallied off four consecutive games with at least 20 points and 10 assists. He proceeded to shoot 48.2 percent from beyond the arc during the month of December, setting up a January for the ages.
Curry averaged 23.5 points and 6.3 assists on a slash line of .459/.471/.905 in January —and it kept on getting better.
Despite being snubbed from the All-Star Game, Curry averaged 25.4 points on a slash line of .479/.484/.925 during February and dropped 24.9 points per game in March. On Feb. 27 he posted a 54-point performance in which he shot 11-of-13 from three-point range.
That performance came under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Stephen Curry: career-high 54 points, most by anyone this season..11 3-pointers, 1 shy of NBA record (12-- Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant)— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) February 28, 2013
Then on April 12, Curry dropped 47 points at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Prior to the 2013 NBA playoffs, I wrote an article titled, "It's Time to Admit Stephen Curry Is Officially an NBA Superstar." The reception to the article was that the label was premature, as Curry was not on the level of the league's proven superstars.
This criticism came despite Curry setting an NBA record by making 272 three-point field goals.
However, the playoffs quieted all skeptics.
Postseason for the Ages
During Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, Stephen Curry underwhelmed. He finished with 19 points and nine assists, but did so while shooting 7-of-20 from the field.
Apparently, Curry is at his best when he starts slow.
During Game 2, Curry went for 30 points, 13 points, five rebounds and three steals on 13-of-23 shooting from the field. As a result, Curry led the Warriors to an upset of the Nuggets in Denver.
As for why that's significant, the Nuggets hadn't lost at home since Jan. 18.
Curry followed that performance with 29 points and 11 assists in Game 3 and 31 points in Game 4. With the opportunity to clinch the series in Game 6, Curry posted 22 points and eight assists with four three-point field goals made.
In Game 1 of the Warriors' series against the Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs, Curry dropped 44 points and 11 assists. At that point, no one in their right mind was left questioning what he had to offer.
Even as the Spurs overcame his heroics, one thing was clear—the NBA community has embraced Curry as a genuine superstar.
The World Weighs In
The most surprising aspect of Stephen Curry's success was the fact that the NBA community embraced him as one of the game's elite. Perhaps no individual was more vocal about that success than Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace.
MWP's Twitter feed provided the evidence.
Curry gets the #Twinhearts co sign I think Steve Curry is Top 10 in the NBA. If he works on his defense , he will be MVP next year.— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) May 9, 2013
Can you make a valid case against that claim?
The scariest aspect of Curry's success is that he appears to be improving at every turn. Not only is he improving, but this is the first time in his developmental process that he'll be able to go through the offseason in good health.
Are you scared?
"This will be the first summer I'll be able to work on my game since my rookie year, so I'm excited about that" @stephencurry30— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) May 17, 2013
You should be.
If that's not enough for you, then you must learn to respect Curry's work ethic and motor on the court. Outside of the fact that he gives every part of his being to making an impact, Curry displays the most important aspect of a superstar's mentality:
The will to get back on the court and make his mark.
Stephen Curry: "I'm already itching to get back."— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) May 17, 2013
Who's ready for 2013-14?