OAKLAND, Calif. -- It took a little while, but Stephen Curry finally cracked Steve Kerr. After chiding Daryl Morey for vocally running James Harden's MVP campaign, after steadfastly avoiding a similar campaign on Curry's behalf, Curry's 45-point performance Thursday forced the words right out of the mouth of Golden State's coach.
"There's nothing left to say. Except that he's the MVP."
Kerr was asked, "That counts as campaigning?"
A grin spread across the coach's face. "Yes." Curry was incendiary enough to melt any pretenses.
It would be easy to fault Kerr for hypocrisy, but you could hardly blame him given the gobsmacking circumstances. Curry delivered eight 3-pointers, hit 17 of 23 shots and went 7-of-7 in his 19-point fourth quarter. His last two 3s were a combined distance of 55 feet. He controlled LaMarcus Aldridge's movements like a video game character.
Kerr rarely struggles when in front of a microphone, but he was near stammering in the wake of what he'd witnessed.
"He was, he was just -- I don't even know how to describe what I watched tonight," Kerr said before arriving on, "Scintillating. Every move, every shot, just amazing skill. I have never seen a player with this skill set."
That last part is undeniable. You can argue that Harden is the MVP, you can certainly argue that LeBron James remains the game's best player, but you cannot say you've seen this before. The ease and speed with which Stephen Curry shoots off the dribble is unique to Stephen Curry. After the All-Star break, he's averaging 8.5 3-point attempts and hitting 52 percent of them. It almost can't be fathomed.
Also difficult to fathom was how well Curry distributed while in a shooting fugue state (10 assists). Despite making six 3-pointers in the first half, he started feeding Klay Thompson at the end of the second quarter. There's a backstory to this. Thompson has been slumping of late, and it seemed an opportune moment to get the All-Star shooting guard on track. Thompson responded with back-to-back and-1s.
It's sequences like this that have Curry's teammates singing his praises, organizing his MVP case as he deflects on such questions.
"[Curry] deferred!" Draymond Green exclaimed of the Thompson sequence. "Once Klay got going, he deferred. It says a lot about him, it says a lot about his character. It says a lot about his unselfishness. You know, he had it going. All of a sudden, Klay, who's been in a slump the past two games, he gets it going. He kept feeding Klay."
Green added that Curry changed a play specifically for Thompson's benefit. "One time, Bogut tried to call a play for Steph, and Steph's like, 'Nah, we're going to Klay.' And Klay gets a bucket. And that's important to our chemistry and important to our success."
Bogut said of that sequence, "He only shot 23 shots, 45 points. If he shot 30, 40 times, he would have had 60. But he knows that if we get the ball movement we're going to get, he's going to be open again."
Bogut and Green asserted that Curry deserves MVP. They cited his work in the summer, his influence on teammates, factors beyond the incredible shooting and unprecedented statistics.
"What you see is what you get," Green said. "He's a great guy to everybody. It's no front, though."
What you see is what you get with Curry, even if it's impossible to believe what you're seeing.