OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Some called him too small. Others too fragile.
Stephen Curry has another label now: NBA MVP.
The Golden State Warriors point guard has won the league’s most coveted individual award, a person familiar with the decision said Sunday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league has not released the voting results. An official announcement is expected Monday, and Curry will be presented with the award on the court before Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against Memphis on Tuesday night.
Curry had 22 points and seven assists in Golden State’s 101-86 win over the Grizzlies on Sunday. Asked about the MVP award following the game, Curry said he had no idea.
“It’s obviously just, in the middle of a playoff series, it’s hard to kind of separate yourself with other things that may or may not happen,” he said.
“Obviously, I know what the situation is, and just trying to focus on the game, and if I get a call (Monday), I’ll definitely be happy, and there will be a lot of people that can be proud of that moment, as well, and we’ll enjoy it.”
Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, the official television partner of the Warriors, first reported Curry won. He beat out Houston’s James Harden, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, among others, for MVP honors.
Curry carried the top-seeded Warriors to a franchise-record 67 wins, surpassed his own record for most 3-pointers in a season and added to his growing reputation as one of the most entertaining spectacles in sports. He’s the franchise’s first MVP since Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, when the Warriors played in Philadelphia.
Curry, nicknamed the “Baby-Faced Assassin” and a member of the “Splash Brothers” duo with teammate Klay Thompson, has overcome obstacles at every level.
He grew up in the shadow of his famous father, former NBA player Dell Curry. Most major colleges didn’t offer him a scholarship coming out of high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, believing he was too small. And some professional scouts wondered whether his game could transition to the NBA, where point guards are bigger and defenses are tougher.
Instead, Curry has gone from a shooting guard who dazzled at Davidson during the NCAA Tournament to a polished professional point guard who can shoot, dribble and distribute with the best of them. In a game dominated by big men and played by some of the world’s greatest athletes, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Curry controls the flow without physically overpowering defenders.
But there were times when it seemed Curry’s potential might not be reached. Two surgeries on his right ankle in his first three seasons with Golden State fueled questions about his durability. He even had to prove his worth to the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2009.
Curry signed a $44 million, four-year contract extension with the Warriors before the 2012-13 season. Back then, the deal looked like a major risk for the Warriors considering Curry’s injury history.
Now? Well, Curry is clearly one of basketball’s best bargains.
Curry eclipsed his own record of 272 3-pointers set two years ago, hitting 286 from beyond the arc this season. He already owns three of the five most prolific 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history.
Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals this season. He shot 48.7 percent from the floor and 44.3 percent from 3-point range.
Off the floor, his popularity is also soaring.
Curry received more All-Star votes than any player, won his first 3-point contest and joined James and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the league’s biggest marketing events during All-Star weekend in New York, where his face plastered posters in subway stations and televisions in taxi cabs.
With the revitalized Warriors winning at a historic pace, Curry’s case for MVP echoed around the league as loud as the nightly chants at rowdy Oracle Arena. He beat out Harden, James — a four-time MVP — and Westbrook despite the incredible seasons they had.