In the postgame press conference after Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Russell Westbrook was asked a question about Steph Curry. He dismissively laughed at the question. Westbrook’s answer passively implied that he thinks Curry is soft.
In The Herd today, Jason Whitlock said Curry isn’t soft, and current and past NBA players that draw that conclusion are wrong.
“The guy is out here playing on a bad knee. If you look at his elbow he hurt jumping into the stands, I don’t believe it’s completely healed. And that’s one of the reasons why his shot is off, and he hasn’t been as effective. But he’s gutting it out and figuring out ways to help his team win. And he’s not getting enough credit for it. He’s not remotely soft. He’s a tough kid.”
Curry’s “soft” tag in league circles also stems from his privileged upbringing. His father Dell played in the NBA. Curry grew up in NBA arenas. NBA players typically come from tougher backgrounds, and feel like he’s a country club kid.
Another criticism of Curry is that he’s a product of the current NBA rules, which don’t permit defensive contact and protect finesse players. Many past NBA players don’t feel like Curry could thrive in past eras, because he would be physically pushed around.
“I know there’s a lot of former players. ‘Oh, he’d never survive in the old school NBA where you could knock people down.’ And that may all be true. Because he’s 6’3’’ and he’s relatively thin.
But you know what, he doesn’t play in that NBA. He plays in today’s NBA, where they protect the players. And in today’s NBA, he’s a two time MVP. His team is the reigning NBA Champion. And he is very effective, and very tough, and very gutty.”
Curry has also been a magnet for criticism because many think he’s excessively cocky and celebrates too much. For a player of Curry’s physical stature, it’s almost a requirement.
“When you’re undersized. When you’re that thin, and you rely on you on a jump shot. If you don’t have that bravado, and ego, you can’t survive in this league.”