With 90 minutes before tip-off, fans poured into the arena on Monday evening to get a glimpse of history like it was Sgt. Pepper’s Ragtime Band.
The arena’s public address announcer gave an all-hands-on-deck countdown for security, staff and others. They all came to see the NBA’s “new kid on the star block” — Golden State’s Stephen Curry. A Sports Illustrated feature story last month called it the “Steph Curry Warmup Show.”
One security guard acted like a traffic cop on a busy intersection, his commands to keep moving were on auto-pilot to keep people moving and not block the aisle. At one point, he warned a person if they didn’t follow instructions, they would be subjected to being escorted out of the place.
People of all ages, armed with cameras of all kinds and sizes were snapping endlessly. Curry didn’t disappoint them.
He first started his two-ball dribbling in rhythm warm-up, then the 6-3 seventh-year guard, who sometimes resembles a seventh-grader, did his own version of a longtime shooting game “around the world.” Curry took a variety of shots, beginning from close range then venturing out to behind the three-point arc, starting from the right side of the court and moving to his left. Every shot seemingly had a radar chip in the ball as he rarely missed.
“I don’t look at them,” admitted Warriors Coach Steve Kerr on Curry’s “That’s Incredible” shots. “Sometimes I hear the crowd go off and I know that Steph did something crazy.”
There was not an official crowd count, but afterwards a longtime security guard and I guessed that a couple thousand were there. We both admitted never in the downtown Minneapolis arena’s history, even in the Chicago Bulls’ 72-win historic season in 1995-96, have we seen anything like this.
They all came Monday night to witness new history.
Golden State now has become the new “home” team when they come to town. The Warriors improved to 7-0 this season after losses — they lost to San Antonio Saturday night — with their five-point win over host Minnesota.
“If you can go through an entire season without losing two in a row, it’s shocking,” said Kerr afterwards. “We’re 70 games in and [we] haven’t had that. We’re close. This is what I’m most proud of.”
The last time he was in town, Curry scored 46 points — Monday night he was only 6-for-17, and only 2-for-9 for 19 points. However, he surpassed the 2,000 single-season mark for points, the first on the team since Antawn Jamison in 2000-01, and joined four others — Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry and Chris Mullin, and Purvis Short in Warriors history. The guard’s two treys — Golden State went 8-for-24 from behind the arc, added to the team’s franchise-record 902, and on pace to break Houston’s last season record of 933 triples.
However, it seemed based on their post-game questions after Monday’s game, that only non-shooting reporters are concerned about Curry’s consecutive sub-par shooting nights. They overlooked his team-high 11 assists and one of three Warriors who finished with three steals, or his seven rebounds — two less than 6-7 Draymond Green, who led Golden State with 24 points and nine rebounds.
“I am not going to get too high or too low,” said Curry when asked about his supposed shooting woes. “I am just going to keep shooting and take good shots. I feel confident. I have to get better, but I am not going to stop shooting.”
When asked if he is tired, he replied, “No,” before adding, “I try to be the most consistent guy out there. Obviously I have to play better.”
But is he tired? Everyone is tired, “even the coaching staff,” noted the coach. “The grind of the season, the third game on the trip and this was the 10th game in 16 days. It’s not just the running and the flying, but getting yourself emotionally ready for 10 straight games in 16 days is a lot.”
A reporter then asked will he rest Steph. “We could,” responded Kerr. “The rest would probably be more a mental rest — his legs are good and healthy. I talk with the training staff every day. I think we will be fine.”
“If Steph can’t get it going, the rest of us get it going,” added Green. Kerr said the forward is now taking advantage of defenses trying to take both Curry and backcourt partner Klay Thompson — the “Splash Brothers” out of the game. “It’s been easy to see his shooting is coming back in the last few games. Even his misses look really good. Everybody — three games in a row: Dallas, San Antonio and Minnesota — is switching everything, which give Draymond a ton of room to work with. He is going to score more.”
Green points out that going back to Oakland after nearly two weeks on the road will help his game. “I can get back in the gym and work on my game,” he explained. “I’m a gym rat. On the road for two weeks, I can’t get in the gym. If I can’t get it, my game loses a little bit.
“Preparation breeds confidence,” continued the forward. “It doesn’t come because it’s there. It’s important to put that work in, and I always feel a difference when I put my work in and get extra time to work on my game.”
After meeting with the media horde, the MSR asked Green what stupid question he heard thus far this season: “Are you guys going for the record?” was his reply. “I get tired of everybody asking if our guys want to break the record. If you are in the position to do it, obviously you should do it.
“The ‘96 Bulls is the team everybody looks at. If you can break that [record], why not,” said Green.
Finally, Green noted that getting top seed in the West and the overall winning record for home court in the playoffs is Golden State’s top priority, along with possibly breaking the 72-win record.
“We have a great home court. It’s hard to play at San Antonio, Los Angeles and OKC (Oklahoma City) — tough places to play,” he concluded.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.