Stephen Curry has built up an extensive catalog of accolades, honors, scoring records and personal milestones during his glittering NBA Finals career.
But as the stardust settled on his virtuoso 43-point display on Friday, many were left convinced they’d just witnessed the greatest performance of them all by the Golden State Warriors superstar.
The 34-year-old shrugged off a sore foot to carry the Warriors to a 107-97 victory on the road against the Boston Celtics, squaring the best-of-seven series at 2-2 and yanking precious momentum back to Golden State, who host two of the three remaining games in San Francisco.
Klay Thompson, Curry’s fellow sharpshooting “Splash Brother” who has shared a court with the Warriors star for most of his career, had no doubt about where Friday’s masterpiece deserved to be ranked.
“Probably No. 1,” Thompson said. “This was nearly a must-win game, and to go out there and shoot as efficiently as he did, and grab 10 rebounds and they were attacking him on defense.
“His conditioning is second-to-none in this league.”
The Warriors’ Draymond Green was similarly effusive, hailing Curry’s white-hot competitive nature.
“Put us on his back. Willed us to win. Came out and showed why he’s one of the best players to ever play this game and why this organization has been able to ride him to so much success,” Green said. “Absolutely incredible.”
Thompson said Curry was “one of the most resilient, toughest guys I’ve ever played with.”
“The way defenses guard him, they are constantly grabbing, and he just continues to play. He don’t make much of it. He just continues to do what he does.
“It just says a lot about his toughness and his competitive nature and what it truly means to be a winner.”
Curry, the NBA’s all-time leader for three-point shooting, made 7-of-14 from beyond the arc on Friday during what was the second 40-point NBA Finals game of his career.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, meanwhile, paid tribute to Curry’s physical conditioning.
“Just stunning,” Kerr said afterwards. “The physicality out there is pretty dramatic. I mean, Boston’s got the best defense in the league.
“Huge and powerful at every position, and for Steph to take that — that kind of pressure all game long and still be able to defend at the other end when they are coming at him …
“I think this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career, and it’s allowing him to do what he’s doing.”
Stars across the NBA lined up to lavish praise on Curry on Friday.
“Chef is insane!!!,” wrote LeBron James on Twitter, referring to Curry by his popular nickname. Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said simply: “AMAZING.”
Curry meanwhile declined to comment on where he ranked Friday’s masterclass in his collection of signature performances.
“I don’t rank my performances,” he said. “Just win the game.
“It means everything knowing the sense of urgency we had to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, get home-court advantage back and try to create some momentum our way.”
Green, meanwhile, said he could sense Curry was quietly girding himself for an epic performance in the days since the Warriors’ game three defeat in Boston on Wednesday.
“He wasn’t letting us lose. That’s what it boils down to,” Green said.
“You hear all the noise for a day or so, and I could tell in his demeanor the last couple of days, even after game three, that he was going to come out with that type of fire.
“And he did, and we were all able to follow it.”
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