Q&A: Golden State’s Stephen Curry Explains the Hot Hand
Stephen Curry had the greatest three-point shooting season of all time last season, setting the NBA single-season threes record with 272, while shooting 45% from beyond the arc. Then he went out and averaged 23.4 points per game on 40% three-point shooting in the playoffs to lead the Warriors to the second round. And so far this season, the Warriors look formidable, off to an 8-6 start thanks in no small part to Curry’s 20.1 points and 8.9 assists per game.
Every hero needs an origin story, so Extra Mustard gave Curry a call to find out when he first knew he had that “it” factor.
EM: Let’s get this out of the way up top: How many threes have you ever made in a row?
SC: All-time record? From the NBA line, it’s actually not that many – it’s 38. It sounds crazy, but I’ve had teammates who have shot more, according to their own stories. But I can get better. I haven’t reached my ceiling yet on how well I can shoot the basketball.
When did you first suspect you might be able to have a career playing basketball?
Really, really early. Probably between my eighth grade and freshman year. I played a lot of different sports, so I had to make a decision on what sport I’d focus on, which one I enjoyed the most and which one I’d pursue at the next level. And I decided basketball was it. So from then on, it was all basketball all day, every day, trying to reach those goals.
When did you first feel you were the best player on the court?
There was a moment in high school. We were playing our team’s conference rivals and it was the most anticipated game of the season. We needed that win really badly. My dad is always looking back on my high school career, and that was the first game he actually saw me take over a game and basically win it with the way I played, especially down the stretch. So that was a big moment.
Do you remember how many points you scored that game?
I didn’t score that many. I had like 28 that game, but I was just making plays. I don’t know how many assists I had. They didn’t really count that in high school when I was playing. It was really noticeable that the other team was really trying to take things away from me but I always found an opening, or a line to the basket, or an open shot. It felt like everything was going in that night.
Fans probably know you best for your three-point shooting. Were you always a shooter, even back in high school?
I was more of a pass-first point guard, really reading the seams and making plays for others. Actually, my coach and my dad taught me to shoot more back in the day. I feel like I turned down a lot of good shots trying to get my teammates open. But I was kind of doing my team a disservice by not using my skills, which is shooting the ball. That developed over time.
You seem to get hot practically every game. For us mere mortals, can you describe what having a hot hand feels like?
It’s one of the best feelings ever. The rim looks like you’re literally shooting into an ocean. When you can get a clean look off, it’s going in. Just your whole body feels in sync and in rhythm. On top of having the hot hand, you find the opportunity to get those shots off. There’s no point in having the hot hand if you’re not getting the ball in your hands to shoot it. All that is clicking at the same time, and it’s just an awesome feeling man.
So when you get going, have you ever felt unstoppable on the court?
Yeah, those times I’ve had a hot hand. It’s like that superhuman feeling where every time you’re on the court, no matter what anybody does, nothing is going to stop you from accomplishing that mission of playing well that night. No matter how many guys they throw at you – double teams, triple teams, there’s really no answer for that mission that you’re on that night. I’ve been locked in like that plenty of times.
Is there anything you can do to help put yourself in that zone? Or is it something that just happens?
It’s the time in the gym by yourself. It’s the preparation that you put in in the summertime when there’s no cameras around. It’s you in the gym putting up reps to get ready for the season. All that work comes out in those moments. The more reps you get, the more confidence that you have that you can go out and do a lot of different things on the court. It’s going to add up to plenty of great nights.