Steph Curry is 30 years old now, with a family of his own and a thick beard that hides the baby face that once thrilled Davidson basketball fans.
But he’s not too old to be called down by his own mother, which he was after he launched an exultant, defiant “F-bomb” during his 35-point outburst Sunday night during Golden State’s resounding home victory over Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
Curry scored 18 of his 35 points in the third quarter, breaking out of a shooting slump to torch the Rockets on a variety of tricky drives to the basket and his traditional three-point rainbows. After scoring on one contested drive, Curry stood on the baseline, ripped his mouthpiece out of his mouth to make sure he could be heard clearly by the adoring home crowd and yelled: “This is my f------ house!”
I actually enjoyed it. It was a somewhat guilty sort of enjoyment — because I wouldn’t want my own kids screaming a curse word on national television — but enjoyment all the same. It was compelling theater from Curry in part because it was so unexpected — an “R”-rated outburst from the NBA’s cuddly “PG” star.
Curry said he barely remembered the moment afterward because he was in the throes of a heated game, which Golden State won 126-85 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I blacked out,” Curry would say in his postgame press conference about why he said what he said. And then to ESPN about his mother Sonya Curry’s reaction to his profanity: “She already sent me two home videos, showing me the clip and playing it back. She was telling me how I need to wash my mouth out, saying to wash it out with soap.”
Curry received this rebuke like a teenager who knows he’s missed his curfew and accepts his punishment.
“She’s right,” Curry told ESPN. “I gotta do better. I can't talk like that.”
As a devout Christian, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and the most famous athlete to ever grow up in Charlotte, Curry is routinely placed on a pedestal. And Sonja Curry is right about this one, of course — mothers usually know best. Curry slinging around the “F” word is not a good look, just like it wasn’t a good look those two times Curry got ejected from NBA games for slinging his own mouthpiece (as annoying as it can sometimes be to watch Curry chomp on his mouthpiece sometimes, bad things sometimes happen when he takes it out).
As a one-time occurrence, though — and Davidson coach Bob McKillop told me Monday he has never heard Curry use that word in all the years the two have been around each other — this outburst just makes Curry seem human. He’s always been imperfect, even though the narrative has long been that he has the most perfect jump shot the NBA has ever seen. He had not played well by his standards in the first two games of the Western Conference finals, as Houston tried to tire him out by isolating him constantly on defense.
But he rejoined the fray with a vengeance on Sunday night, and how you felt about his verbal outburst probably depends on how you feel about Curry more than how you feel about gratuitous profanity.
If you loved it, then did you also love Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan yelling at the Carolina Panthers “Get the f--- off my field!” in 2012 after the Falcons edged the Panthers in Atlanta on a last-second field goal?
No? Why not? Wasn’t Ryan showing exactly the same fighting spirit?
In any case, Game 3 proved a lot of things: Steph was back. Mom was right.
And, next time, maybe just keep the mouthpiece where it belongs.