The era of the self-effacing superstar player

When Alpha males invite bigger males to take over the pack

You need to be an egoist to win at the top level in sports. How can you succeed if you don’t believe you can do the impossible? Or as Federer aptly put it after surviving three match points in his epic match against Cilic, “It’s not a fake belief, it’s a real belief that you need to have in those moments.”

That’s why I still can’t wrap my mind around Curry’s pitch to Durant, where he says the Warriors is not a team that worries about individual glory, and Curry himself will be clapping if Durant wins the MVP.

Even allowing for basketball being a team sport, or Curry having the words put in his mouth by his team mates or team management, it’s still so unusual that I can’t think of a parallel happening in any sports.

Curry claims he’s willing to not just share the limelight with Durant, but actually relinquish it. The equivalent in soccer would be Messi persuading Ronaldo to move to Barcelona, and take over as the star of the team.

This isn’t the same as LeBron joining forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Paul to form a Big Three at the Miami Heat. Because it was still a team where the kingpin was LeBron. Likewise in soccer, when Neymar and Suarez joined Messi at Barcelona to form a fearsome attack trident, Messi was still the rock around which the team was built.

So what could possibly be going on?

I think Curry is enough of a realist to realize that with his size, he’s always going to be bullied by the LeBrons of this world. It’s just a complete physical mismatch at a one-on-one level.

Strange as it sounds, the two time MVP, and the first ever unanimous MVP in regular season, may not be viable as an MVP, and he knows it. A three may beat a two, but an MVP needs to be able to do a lot more than that.

So how can Curry come out a winner in this scenario? He has do whatever it takes for this outstanding Warriors team to win the Championship as many times as possible, and so achieve immortality as one of the best teams ever.

If the only way Curry can do this, is by bringing in players who may outshine him, then so be it. And there’s every possibility that if the Warriors win the title, Durant will indeed be the MVP.

The British advertising legend, David Ogilvy, once said “…if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” That seems to be exactly what the the Warriors and Curry are doing.

The coming together of two MVPs in one team is something I can’t recall seeing before. It will be fascinating to watch the evolving dynamics of the team in the coming year.

Should this experiment succeeds, it will affect teams sports in every field, everywhere in the world. Because if you become your team’s Alpha male, you can shortly expect to find a larger, stronger wolf put in your cage, and you will be expected to move over, let him take over the pack, and work together with him to make the pack stronger.

That’s not going to be possible for the sportsmen of today with their outsize egos. So we may looking at the emergence of a new breed of players, the self effacing superstar, as epitomised by the easygoing Stephen Curry.

Not that the Warriors are guaranteed the title.

LeBron for one, is too sharp to miss this play, and not counter it. If the Warriors can get a giant aboard, so can the Cavaliers, in plural. Expect counter moves from the Cavaliers to form their own super team.

Even if that happens, this superwar between two potential superteams can still come crashing down to earth, should injuries strike. The Warriors might still be without a title if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love had not sat out the 2015 Finals. Nothing we can do about that but pray.

The battle lines are being redrawn, but we may be in for interesting times.

it’s an odd world

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store