Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a superstar NBA player is playing at an insanely high level but it’s not exactly correlating to wins. Houston Rockets fans know this story all too well, as they witnessed it with James Harden in multiple seasons.
Harden led the NBA in total points in 2015-16, while also finishing third in 3-pointers, and sixth in assists, and his efforts barely lifted the Rockets into the playoffs, as they finished with the eighth seed in the West, with a 41-41 record. Harden also had to will the Rockets in 2018-19, after the team got off to a 11-14 start through the first 25 games of the season and dealt with a litany of injuries.
Harden went on a scoring tear, as he scored 32 points in 24 consecutive games, which remains the longest streak of 32-point games since the 1983-84 season. Another player who is now on that list is Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has scored 32 or more in 10 games this season, as he’s gone supernova and done essentially all that he can to carry the Warriors into the postseason.
Why is Stephen Curry being covered so much differently than James Harden was as a member of the Houston Rockets?
Curry scored 47 points in Saturday night’s prime-time game against the Boston Celtics, but it wasn’t enough, as the Warriors lost 119-114. That performance marked Curry’s seventh game of the season in which he’s scored at least 40 points, and the Warriors have needed every bit of it, as they’ve gone 5-2 in such games.
Curry’s 31 points per game this season represents a career-best, and the Warriors are 28-29 and fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament. This has been a surprise, as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Warriors rank at or near the top of the Western Conference.
But this is much different, as the Warriors have been dealing with the absence of Klay Thompson and now the season-ending injury to James Wiseman, who has played well as a rookie, with averages of 11.5 point and 5.8 rebounds. What’s also been much different has been the media’s coverage of Curry’s scoring tear, as he’s received an endless amount of praise, which hails in comparison to the overall coverage of Harden’s scoring surges during his time with the Houston Rockets.
It was constantly stated that the Houston Rockets had no chance of winning as long as Harden was dominating the ball and single-handedly carrying the offense, as this was described as the mere opposite of “winning basketball.” Harden was described as a “stat chaser” and it was believed that he was getting statistical milestones because of former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense.
We had also heard that Harden’s offensive displays weren’t impressive because of the notion that he was ” baiting opponents into fouls”. This created the narrative of “yeah he’s getting great numbers but how many of those points came from free throws?” However, what’s gone undiscussed is the fact that Curry has done some of the same foul baiting that drew the ire of the public.
We were also told to disregard Harden’s scoring and statistical accomplishments during the regular season and to simply see if he keeps it up in the playoffs. So why not apply this same logic to Curry, whose Warriors may not even make the playoffs?
Harden was overlooked for the MVP award on numerous occasions because of said narratives. In fact, Harden wasn’t even a finalist or All-NBA selection in the aforementioned 2015-16 season in which he was the sole reason why the Rockets were able to right the ship after starting the season 4-7 and firing then head coach Kevin McHale.
However there’s a faction that believes that Curry should receive MVP consideration for his offensive brilliance, and we’ve even seen chants of “Free Curry”, as many have felt bad for Curry, as the Warriors have struggled in spite of Curry’s stellar play.
At the end of the day, Curry is doing the exact same thing that Harden did on a number of different occasions, but somehow the coverage is much different and the bashing and downplaying of his performance has also been strangely non-existent.
Therein lies the definition of a double-standard, and it’s one that shouldn’t go ignored.