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The Second Coming of Stephen Curry

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The unstoppable guard helmed one of the best offensive teams in NBA history. Two years after that dynasty fell apart, he’s willing the Warriors toward another championship run—and underlining his claim as one of the game’s all-time greats.

 

 

The calm that hovers over the streets around the Chase Center in San Francisco late on a night when no basketball is being played is intoxicating. That is, until you walk inside. That same calm gives way to an eeriness—the space is cavernous and labyrinthian, hallways collapsing into hallways. A corner light flickers in a series of hiccups. Music echoes from some undetermined distance. Following the sounds, I’m led to a kind of makeshift subterranean gym. Laughter rises from a group of handlers, circled around Stephen Curry, who’s dressed as if he’s just finished a workout. At his feet rest two 30-pound barbells branded with the Golden State Warriors logo. A Warriors towel rests on his head. Drake’s Certified Lover Boy ricochets off the walls.

It’s here, in the belly of the Warriors’ arena, that Stephen Curry has diligently remade himself and his team. And glimpsing him in this private lair, just before our interview, is like witnessing a superhero’s origin story. Except it’s the sequel, the story of his rebirth. Our hero is better than before, the mythology more grandiose. In an instant, there’s a song shift. Once the beat drops on “You Only Live Twice,” Curry is newly energized, grinning underneath the shadow of the towel, gesturing with his hands, shaking his head on beat. The song serves as an appropriate anthem for a player in the throes of a second NBA life, making the impossible look easy in new ways.

The first era of the modern Warriors dynasty was staggering: three championships and five straight finals. The 73-win season. Curry breaking the single-season three-point record, then breaking it again (and again). Then things began to crumble. There’s an enduring image from late in the third quarter of the 2019 NBA finals. The Warriors are down to the Raptors in the series, 3-2. But in the game itself, they’re up by three. Kevin Durant had gone out with an injury the game prior, and there is Klay Thompson, barely able to walk, being carried off of the court with what later would be diagnosed as a torn ACL. A replay showed Curry slamming the ball in frustration, a rare crack in his usually placid demeanor. It seemed that he came to a realization in that moment. He was the only star left, fighting back against the inevitable depletion of his team. And he was. The Warriors lost the finals. Durant was off to Brooklyn in the off-season. The pandemic threw the league off course. Thompson tore an Achilles before he even returned from the ACL injury. Curry injured his hand. There were those who said it was a good run. We got a half-decade of greatness. No dynasty can last forever.

Yet there’s something remarkable brewing in the Bay once again. The night before, there was an NBA game here. The Raptors came to town and left with their 15th loss out of the last 17 games they’ve played on Golden State’s home floor. Curry didn’t have the kind of game spectators have been accustomed to seeing him put together this season—he managed just 12 points on 2-10 shooting—but the Warriors still won, relatively comfortably. This was a departure from last season, when at times it felt like in order for the Warriors to be in a game, Curry had to maintain an almost unsustainable level. Almost unsustainable because, through the season, he somehow managed to sustain it. Those heroics were both miraculous and a bit concerning. It felt, at times, like one last flourish before the flame burned out entirely. Curry, dragging what some considered to be a fading team along, unconcerned with the toll it might be taking on his body.
But this is a new era of Warriors basketball. As of now, Curry and the Warriors have the best record in the NBA, and they’ve made it look both easy and fun. A youthful energy has been infused into the core of reliable stars. Young players like Jordan Poole have taken leaps. Still-youthful semi-vets like Andrew Wiggins have further solidified roles as effective two-way options. Draymond Green is back in his Defensive Player of the Year form, even more cerebral than he was before. Stephen Curry’s job, so far, has been considerably easier. And three weeks after my visit to Chase Center, he’d have the chance to bask in personal accolades, too, breaking Ray Allen’s record for all-time career three pointers near the end of 2021, and doing it in Madison Square Garden, of course.

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But that’s yet to come. In a greenroom inside the Warriors’ arena, Curry settles into a chair. He’s older now, 33, but doesn’t look worn down. There’s still a childlike quality to him—he’s a thoughtful speaker, and there’s often a grin creeping along the edges of his mouth, like he’s just heard a secret. He’s also stronger than he was, no longer the young player with a jersey sliding off of his shoulders in his Davidson years or his first few seasons in the NBA. The muscles in his arms cut a clear outline through his black hoodie as he puts a hand on his face to ponder a question. He holds this pose for several seconds after I ask him about dynasties, and the challenges of reshaping a team for another run, after over a decade in the league and just two seasons after it seemed like the torch was being passed.

“Well, as many good breaks as we got, we got kind of the same bad breaks,” he begins. “The injuries that took us to a pretty crazy free fall right before the pandemic. And it’s weird because if you look at it in those two years, it was tough to be patient and tough for me, just staying locked in and motivated.”
He pauses briefly, before running toward a closing thought: “And for us, that’s been the mental [block we’ve had to] unlock—staying sharp, staying fresh, and appreciating the climb back to hopefully get back to the top, and personally, I’ve just been riding that wave. Understand if you’re in this league long enough, hopefully you’ll experience many different things, many different narratives, and you have to not reinvent your game, but just reinvent your focus on what’s the challenge ahead of you each year. And I feel like that’s been really a shock to the system these last two years.”

The place the team finds itself in suits Curry. To have his squad written off, only to bring them roaring back as a newer, potentially better version of their old selves. It all fits the overarching Curry mythology—that of the perpetual underdog. It’s significantly more difficult to sell that narrative now than it was when Curry was a scrawny kid firing away at Davidson, stitching together an upset run to the Elite Eight. More difficult than when he was battling ankle injuries early in his NBA career. Indeed, the idea of the underdog today seems almost an invention, just as Michael Jordan imagined slights and pulled foes out of thin air. Curry smirks a bit when I ask, incredulously, about his commitment to this underdog status. “I’ve failed at explaining what it feels like,” he says. “But I still carry that one thousand percent, because I have a long-term memory of everything that it took and everything I’ve been through to get here.”

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Tennis Phenom Leylah Fernandez Shares Her Love For Soccer

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Leylah Fernandez had a stellar 2021 and bagged her first-ever trip to a Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. In addition to her superb play at Flushing Meadows last September, Fernandez started the 2021 season off right.

 

 

In March 2021, she sailed through her first four matches at the Monterrey Open to reach the final there. In the final at the Monterrey Open, Fernandez dominated Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, 6–1, 6–4, which gave Fernandez her first-ever WTA career title at age 18. In defeating seven total competitors, Fernandez was also the youngest player in the main draw, and she marked the extraordinary feat of reaching the final without dropping a set.

Currently, the Canadian-born Fernandez is ranked No. 24 in the world. Just before the New Year, she was named the 2021 Canadian Press Athlete of the Year.

Yet, while Fernandez is squarely focused on continuing her ascent in the tennis world, she will tell you that picking up the tennis racket wasn’t her first foray into sports as a youngster.

“I started sports by playing soccer. It was my first sport and in some ways my first love,” Fernandez said, in a recent Zoom interview. “I remember watching (Canadian soccer legend) Christine Sinclair at a young age, and taking in her commitment and dedication, watching her as a player throughout the years.”

Fernandez adds that it was Sinclair’s devotion and work ethic—and perhaps Sinclair’s remarkable 188 in 30 games as a Canadian international– that helps inform Fernandez’s own approach to tennis now.

And of course, Fernandez says she was ecstatic when her home country took the Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer last summer in Tokyo.

“Seeing the Canadian women win the gold was heartwarming. When they finally won, I was jumping for joy, just like every other Canadian soccer fan.”

Leylah Fernandez had a stellar 2021 and bagged her first-ever trip to a Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. In addition to her superb play at Flushing Meadows last September, Fernandez started the 2021 season off right.

In March 2021, she sailed through her first four matches at the Monterrey Open to reach the final there. In the final at the Monterrey Open, Fernandez dominated Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, 6–1, 6–4, which gave Fernandez her first-ever WTA career title at age 18. In defeating seven total competitors, Fernandez was also the youngest player in the main draw, and she marked the extraordinary feat of reaching the final without dropping a set.

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Currently, the Canadian-born Fernandez is ranked No. 24 in the world. Just before the New Year, she was named the 2021 Canadian Press Athlete of the Year.

Yet, while Fernandez is squarely focused on continuing her ascent in the tennis world, she will tell you that picking up the tennis racket wasn’t her first foray into sports as a youngster.

“I started sports by playing soccer. It was my first sport and in some ways my first love,” Fernandez said, in a recent Zoom interview. “I remember watching (Canadian soccer legend) Christine Sinclair at a young age, and taking in her commitment and dedication, watching her as a player throughout the years.”

Fernandez adds that it was Sinclair’s devotion and work ethic—and perhaps Sinclair’s remarkable 188 in 30 games as a Canadian international– that helps inform Fernandez’s own approach to tennis now.

And of course, Fernandez says she was ecstatic when her home country took the Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer last summer in Tokyo.

“Seeing the Canadian women win the gold was heartwarming. When they finally won, I was jumping for joy, just like every other Canadian soccer fan.”

At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo last July, the Canada women’s national soccer team went 1-2-0 in the group stage and then eeked out a win over Brazil on penalties in the first knockout round. Then, after beating the United States USM -2.9% 1-0 in the semifinals, Canada went on to win the gold medal over Sweden, beating them 4-3 on penalties, August 6, 2021.

Now on top of being perhaps Canada’s biggest soccer fan, Fernandez has also gotten involved in promoting what Pelé himself once called “the beautiful game.”

Youth Athletes United, a multi-brand youth sports franchisor behind such ventures as Soccer Stars, Amazing Athletes, TGA Premier Sports, and JumpBunch, announced a new partnership with Fernandez, just this week. Youth Athletes United promotes youth sports not only for the fun of it but also considers soccer and other sports such as tennis and basketball as a means to which kids all across North America can use sports to develop character and learn life lessons.

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THE SOCIAL SLICE: LEYLAH FERNANDEZ MAKES IT BIG WITH GOOGLE PARTNERSHIP

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Every week, dozens of tennis players from around the world post on their social media. From funny videos to training updates, there are simply too many accounts to keep track of. That’s why we do the work for you by selecting the best posts from across the world of tennis.

Welcome to the Social Slice:

Leylah Fernandez
You may have heard of Leylah Fernandez. The 19-year-old reached the final of the US Open last year alongside Emma Raducanu, making her a teenage sensation overnight. Now, the Canadian is making it big with sponsorships, sharing her latest commercial with Google. She showed off her table tennis skills in the company’s latest commercial for the Google Pixel 6.

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‘Classic Complaint’: Serena Williams’ Coach Patrick Mouratoglou Takes Daniil Medvedev to Task Over On-Court Remarks Against…

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Round 4 of the Australian Open saw top seed Daniil Medvedev take on American Maxime Cressy. Even though on paper, the match should have been a breeze for the Russian, that wasn’t the case.

 

 

In fact, Medvedev seemed to lose his demeanor today completely, yelling frustratedly throughout. He even admitted to trying to get into Cressy’s head by calling him lucky on his serves.

Now, Patrick Mouratoglou, known for coaching Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsitsipas, has some words for Medvedev about his behavior.

The Coach does not approve of Daniil Medvedev’s objections
At one point in the match, Daniil Medvedev had yelled “this is so boring!” owing to his opponent’s playing style. Cressy, at 6’6″, seems to be heavily reliant on the serve-and-volley style. So much so that the American played no other way throughout the four-setter today.

Then, Medvedev resorted to mental tactics, trying to offset Cressy by yelling about his serve, and how he was simply getting lucky by staying inside the line on his explosive serves. Moreover, he also complained to the umpire about the time Maxime was taking in between serves.

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Thus, when he called his Amerian opponent’s playing style “boring”, famous French coach Patrick Mouratoglou had some words for the Russian. He called Medvedev’s objections a “classic complain(t) of the baseliners.”

Medvedev himself is a player who prefers staying near the baseline, seldom coming close to the net, during rallies or returns. Mouratoglou called it a complaint of all such players “when they play vs Serve and Volley players.”

In his interview after his victory, Medvedev called his tussle with Cressy “a great match”. However, he admitted that “during the match, (he) got a little bit crazy.” Then, he addressed his vocal frustrations on court.

“I tried, you know, to say something in the air, but getting to his (Cressy’s) mind a little bit,” the World No. 2 admitted. Thus, he hoped that this way, “maybe he (Cressy) is gonna miss some shots.”

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