Steph Curry was decidedly un-MVP-ish in the NBA Finals. He spent the final three games of the series marooned on Alcatraz, not getting those “Do It for the Vine” off-the-dribble 3s and Ringling Brothers circus shots that he usually counts on to fall. He wasn’t himself. He turned the ball over in volume. He gave up a lot of fouls. He got frustrated, and at one point even hurled his closest, most cherished friend headlong into the stands.
But after the epochal collapse of an all-time season that saw him miss out on “best ever” by four measly points, the impossibly and annoyingly decent Curry held his nose and took his medicine:
Did you see that? Did you notice how meek and mild and classy that was? How markedly different it was from a certain other league MVP who face-planted on his sport’s biggest stage?
If you’ll recall, NFL MVP and certified national treasure Cam Newton Stunted On These Haters and gun-slang the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50, wherein Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware bludgeoned him into a fair-to-middling performance and a 24–10 loss. After the game — to this point his biggest failure (but also his greatest success!) — Cam didn’t much feel like talking, and skated on the press conference. With the criticism he weathered for showboating throughout the season, we immediately got the sense that everything was going to be dumb after that. And, well, everything was.
There were plenty of cloistered, reductive takes like this one, all of which presupposed two very stupid things:
- That after a calendar year of the most onerous training you could think of and reaching the summit only to have someone else plant their flag on it, that you (yes, you) would be able to smile and joke about “next time” half an hour afterward. If you truly think you could do that, I have a few acres of lovely beachfront property in the Appalachian foothills that you might be interested in.
- That losing is a thing you should strive to be good at. I don’t think this requires any further explanation.
This intellectual bankruptcy subsided about a month or so after Super Bowl 50 — but on Sunday night, the takes returned. You’re welcome to do a Boolean search with “Hey Cam” and “Steph” on Twitter, but suffice it to say that all of the results are some permutation of “why can’t you be good at losing like your friend here” with varying tones that suggest “Cam” could’ve easily been replaced with “boy.”
It’s probably going to be this way for the foreseeable future, in the same way that dudes will continue to chalk up everything Drake does as a loss for Meek Mill. (These same dudes will continue to pine for an “Ayesha Curry” instead of a “Nicki Minaj,” as if netting either wouldn’t basically be interplanetary dating.) It’s fine that Steph Curry faced the music after being less than great in the NBA Finals. It’s fine that people applaud him for it. But it’s also fine that Cam Newton walked out on his press conference.
And shutting the hell up about it? That’d be pretty fine, too.