Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had a memorable 2015, winning the NBA MVP Award and capping the 2014-15 season with an NBA championship. He's begun this campaign leading the team to a historic 26-1 start, so it's no surprise the 27-year-old is feeling good about himself.
Speaking to Sean Gregory of Time for the magazine's "Year Ahead" issue, Curry claimed he is the best basketball player in the world right now:
That's how I have confidence out there that I can play at a high level every night. I don't get into debates, arguing with people about why I am versus somebody else. I feel like anybody who's at the level I'm trying to be at, if you don't think that when you're on the floor, then you're doing yourself a disservice.
While there are many great players in the NBA—LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook spring to mind—the case for Curry as the world's best is a strong one. The reigning league MVP leads the NBA in scoring (31.8 points per game), is shooting a career-high 52 percent and averages 6.2 assists for good measure.
Speaking on the way he has managed to connect with fans, Curry cited his size (6'3", 190 lbs) and lack of physically dominating traits as potential reasons he's become so endearing.
"I have fun out there on the court, smiling, laughing, trying to have good demeanor," Curry said. "And I guess I'm not the most physically dominating guy. So probably to most fans of mine, they're pretty surprised what I can do on the court at my size. I call it lack of athleticism."
It helps that Curry doesn't take playing a game more seriously than it needs to be because sports are supposed to be fun, which is why he will bring his daughter to a postgame press conference or do something to keep the mood loose.
The most enlightening response from Curry came when he was asked what the biggest challenge of his still-young life has been:
Probably the transition from high school to college. There was a lot of pressure being Dell Curry's son, growing up in Charlotte, being in ACC country. I was probably really small for an aspiring Division 1 athlete. And I was looked over by pretty much every non low-D1 school. And it was kind of [a] shock. I was a pretty good high school player, so it was kind of a weird dynamic. I really desperately wanted to play ACC basketball. Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest, all those schools, I never even got close to a call.
Some athletes are able to take chips on their shoulders and use them as permanent sources of motivation. It appears Curry is doing just that. He has proved wrong all of those prominent college coaches who didn't recruit him, as well as the five NBA teams that passed on him in the 2009 draft (the Minnesota Timberwolves infamously bypassed him twice).
In true Curry fashion, when asked what people should expect from him next year, he simply said they can expect him "to keep getting better."
It would be hard for Curry to top this year. It's not easy to go from being the MVP to arguably the league's most improved player, but somehow he continues to upgrade his game.
The Warriors are operating at a higher level than any other team in the NBA right now, so if any individual player is going to find a new way to get better, it will be Curry.