Like, a franchise-fortune-reversing, championship-building, make-something-out-of-nothing kind of keeper.
You don't let a player like that escape your sights, let alone your stranglehold on him. If the superstar-driven NBA doesn't allow a franchise to have control on its primary piece, you apply for a rule change to get it.
He's that kind of special.
Not that anyone was questioning his credentials, but the sharpshooting point guard once again cemented his standing as a full-fledged NBA superstar Friday night.
Behind Curry's masterful 33-point, eight-assist, five-rebound performance (his 18th 30-plus-point outburst of the season), the Warriors scored a key 100-93 win Friday night over the surging Memphis Grizzlies—a team that had won its last five trips to Oracle Arena.
The Dubs have made an unfortunate habit of giving away winnable home games, so naturally they rode a game-clinching 14-0 run to close out a contest they never should have won.
The Warriors were already without their starting 4, David Lee (strained hamstring), then lost their starting 5, Andrew Bogut, to a pelvic contusion early in the first quarter. Against the league's most intimidating frontcourt. A group that's shredded the full-strength Warriors on countless occasions.
Golden State decisively won the battle of the boards (43-33) and nearly got as many points from replacement starter Marreese Speights (15) as Memphis did from two-time All-Star Zach Randolph (21).
Playoff positioning was at stake. With a win, the Grizzlies would have grabbed control of the Western Conference's No. 6 seed.
Chaos cluttered the pregame buildup. Dub Nation sought out any available shelter as the sky appeared come crashing down around it.
First-year assistant coach, and longtime NBA folk hero, Brian Scalabrine was given a Lawrence Frank-type reassignment, first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. The scribe wrote of "an increasingly dysfunctional atmosphere" under Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who league sources said was having "difficulty with managing his coaching staff and creating a functional work environment."
Yes, the same coach who appears on the verge of overseeing the franchise's first back-to-back playoff trips since 1991-92. The one whose option for the 2014-15 campaign was exercised last summer but hasn't yet secured an extension beyond that.
If the front office is at all hesitant about aligning itself with Jackson, that is not a sentiment shared by his players. Chief among the pro-Jackson crowd is Curry—the most vital piece of both the franchise's present and its future:
Steph Curry on whether he expects to have input on whether MJax stays or goes: "I hope they ask, ya, for sure. I'll give my honest opinion"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 26, 2014
Curry: "We're 2 years removed from being a terrible basketball team." Credits Jackson with the transformation. "I support coach 100%"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 26, 2014
Jackson has turned a no-expectation cellar-dweller into a no-excuse contender. Friday's against-all-odds, come-from-behind victory was just the latest example of that (see: the sixth-seeded Warriors' upset of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in the 2013 playoffs).
"Coach Jackson has done a great job...of changing the culture, and we've bought into the system," Curry told B/R in a phone interview earlier this week.
Yet there's a sense that might not be enough to keep the coach in the Bay Area.
"Multiple players have told me they get the sense Jackson could end up leaving — whether it is by Jackson's choice or management's," Marcus Thompson II of Bay Area News Group wrote.
With so much running through the rumor mill, you'd think we would have heard something from the front office by now. We haven't.
Maybe that silence speaks volumes.
"Though guys like Curry are talking, it's much more telling that management has been silent," B/R's Grant Hughes wrote. "No vote of confidence. No contract extension giving Jackson security beyond next season. No comment. Nothing."
Cricket chirps from the executive suites and unabashed support from the sideline. Jackson can hear what's going on:
Mark Jackson says on KNBR Stephen Curry's support means a lot to him.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) March 28, 2014
So, too, can Curry.
And its his three-point cannon (43.8 percent for his career), expanding playmaking skills (career-high 8.5 assists per game) and steady scoring touch (23.6 points per game, seventh-most in the NBA) that can carry the Warriors to places they couldn't even imagine before.
He's said everything he needs to say on this topic, through his words and his actions:
I asked Jackson before the game if he wanted Curry & Co. to play for him. He said no. I think they did tonight anyway.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) March 29, 2014
Now it's management's turn to do the same.
Ownership might have its doubts about Jackson, but Curry's convinced he's the right man for the job. In a superstars' league, the latter absolutely trumps the former.
The Warriors have to keep on Curry's good side, as Tim Kawakami of Bay Area News Group noted after Friday's win:
Because he’s sort of important, he can do incredible things, he’s incredibly level-headed, he swears by Mark Jackson and, by the way, he played tonight like he wanted to show all of that to the world, loudly and clearly…
And to show Warriors management, too.
Curry is already playing at a discounted rate ($9.8 million for this season, via ShamSports.com). He's made his concession.
The front office has to follow suit.
Curry isn't the type of player you let slip away. He's definitely not one you can afford to unnecessarily push out the door.
All statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and are accurate as of March 28.