Harden, Davis ready to see if they've closed gap on Curry
NEW YORK -- The Beard and the Brow checked the same place first when they got a look at the NBA 2K16 video game.
"My rating," James Harden said.
"My rating," echoed Anthony Davis, "and my jump shot. See how far I can shoot. That's the first thing I do, every time."
Soon enough, they can see how their teams rate in the NBA's Western Conference.
Harden, Davis and league MVP Stephen Curry earned cover honors for the new release of the popular game, and all three were in New York on Monday night for a launch party.
It was the kickoff to their last week of summer vacation -- an especially short one for Curry after Golden State won the NBA title. Their teams and most in the NBA open training camp next Tuesday.
Curry said the focus of his offseason workouts was on getting stronger and faster to prevent injury, as well as the shooting and dribbling that are already at or near the top of the league.
"It's not like I'll go in and try to implement a post game, work on a hook shot or things like that," Curry said. "I've just got to be able to take what I do well and make it even better."
His Warriors knocked out Davis' New Orleans Pelicans in the first round and Harden's Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals. Now those stars are anxious to see if their teams have closed the gap.
Davis has seen one preseason ranking of the Pelicans as the No. 8 team in the NBA, which gives him confidence it can be done quickly.
"It can happen in a matter of a year, couple of years," he said. "I mean, we were 12th in the West coming into the season last year, made the playoffs in the eighth spot. Just off last year they got us No. 8 overall in the league, so to go from 12th in the West to 8 overall in the league, that's a huge jump."
The Rockets made a stunning comeback from 3-1 down in the second round against the Los Angeles Clippers, but won't even be considered the best team in Texas going into this season after San Antonio loaded up with the signings of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West.
"We like it that way. No one expected us to be in the conference finals last year, and we like being underrated, kind of sneaking up on teams," Harden said. "So we'll continue to work, continue to build our chemistry, our camaraderie, and be ready for the regular season."
The cover stars took part in a panel discussion with TNT's Shaquille O'Neal and Ernie Johnson, and director Spike Lee, who wrote and directed a feature for the game telling the story of a player's rise to the NBA.
They shared humorous stories of college recruitments, decisions to turn pro, signing with agents and even buying pets. Davis owns a monkey, while O'Neal purchased a horse he has ridden only once after it threw him on that first attempt.
But the video game itself is serious business. Besides seeing how highly he was rated, Davis checked to see if his appearance and shot-blocking ability were right. Harden even performs the "stir the pot" move he does in the NBA when he gets hot.
Curry's underhand scoop shot layup was added to his video game character's repertoire, and he participated for the first time in the game's motion capture technology after fans complained his release wasn't the same as in real life.
"So I played the game, checked the release and timing," Curry said. "It looks pretty good and pretty realistic."
NBA 2K16 is available for purchase Friday.
Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press
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