Curry, for his part, dreams of a future five years from now where Poole is an all-star, Kuminga is an all-defensive player, and Wiseman is an MVP candidate. He and Green will be fulfilled then, he says.
But there is still the business of winning games, of building a legacy, of conquering doubters, real and invented. There are still those who insist that Curry has ruined the game—that he’s inspired a trend toward outrageously long-range threes that should only be attempted by a generational talent. These cries might seem unique to someone too young to remember those who insisted that Steve Nash was ruining the game, or that Allen Iverson was ruining the game before him, and so on. The miracle in all of these players, for me and for a lot of short, small kids I’ve known, is that they were operating in a game not entirely built for them and yet extracting all the magic they could from it. Sure, Curry is bigger now than he once was, but he’s still a fairly small guard who has perfected his ability to not only play well, but play with flair. To both wow and frustrate opponents, as Nash and Iverson did.
And there are kids somewhere shooting 35-foot shots before even attempting to perfect the midrange, and kids pulling off dribble moves with their heads down, completely missing open teammates. But there’s something else that hovers in my mind as I exit the arena. We’ve had Stephen Curry for a good, long, thrilling time, and we’re not going to have him forever. Even if he plays out his latest extension, four seasons can come and go in an instant. And so, with any luck, there are also some kids out there, short and scrawny, watching the blueprint Stephen Curry is mapping out in real time: How to dominate what isn’t meant for you, until it is meant for you alone.
Hanif Abdurraqib is the author of A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance and the recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Foundation grant.
A version of this story originally appeared in the February 2022 issue with the title “The Second Coming of Stephen Curry.”
Behind the Scenes with Stephen Curry
Photographs by Shaniqwa Jarvis
Styled by Mobolaji Dawodu
Hair by Yusef Wright
Skin by Hee Soo Kwon using Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation
Tailoring by Yelena Travkina
Set design by Dylan Lynch
Produced by North Six
Photographed at Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors