Stephen Curry won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award on Tuesday.
And he did so in a way that eluded Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and every other player who came before him.
The Golden State Warriors guard became the first player in NBA history to win the MVP vote unanimously. The second-generation NBA star beat out Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs, LeBron James of the Cavaliers, Russell Westbrook of the Thunder, and Kevin Durant also of the Thunder in the balloting. He garnered all 131 first-place votes.
Curry set an NBA record by making 402 three-pointers this season and helped his team establish a record for victories in a season through winning 73 games. Curry scored 30.1 points, grabbed 6.7 rebounds, and dished 5.4 assists per game during the 2015-2016 campaign. The official release from the NBA points out that “Curry became the seventh qualifying player in NBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 90 percent from the foul line.”
Curry showed why he won the award last night in Portland. Coming off the bench, the injury-nagged player scored 40 points, including 17 in overtime, to lead the Warriors past the Trail Blazers 132-125. The Warriors enjoy a 3-1 lead in the series and hope to repeat as NBA champions.
“I love this game,” he told reporters after the game. “I love playing and love competing.”
The award makes for the second MVP nod for Curry. He joins the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan in winning the honor in consecutive years.
Like a few of his MVP predecessors, Curry plays as a revolutionary force in the 125-year-old game. The success of his team de-emphasizes a reliance on big men, instead unleashing quicker, small-ball lineups that utilize ball movement on the perimeter to give shooters the best looks and spread the floor to provide lanes for players to drive to the basket.