The reason I like the NBA playoffs more than I like the NFL or the UFC -- and I love those leagues too -- is when you’re presented with a seven-game series, the better team, 99.9999% comes out on top. It’s basic math.
It's about the leaders
You play a best of 7; the better team will win four games before its opponent will. And the way that works is not just because of talent -- the less talented team has lost plenty of times; exhibit A is the WeBelieve Warriors kicking MVP Dirk and his Mavericks out of the building. It’s also not just health, consistency or style matchups, or any of that. So why is it that the better team tends to have a knack for just figuring it out?
I have the philosophy that it’s put on the shoulders of the leader. Especially in a game like basketball where having one player changes everything about an offense, defense, franchise, playoff hopes, or non-playoff hopes. And when you get even deeper into that, there are certain intangible qualities of amazing leaders that gives players their edge.
Take it even out of basketball for a second - say, Steve Jobs. He was a maniac who would scream in his engineer’s faces; he repulsed authority. He would do things that you would never read about in a leadership how-to guide, but he would get the job done. People working for him would know that he would get the job done. And despite being different, people gravitated toward him and completed their best work. You'll never hear an engineer say how much they regret working on the original iPhones. Steve Jobs got the best out of people.
The Stephen Curry effect
Now Stephen Curry, with a different approach, is just that gravitating - and I’m not talking about shooting. The other day, LeBron James said he wants to play with him. Now I know after that Game 5, everyone will be talking about Andrew Wiggins. And Wiggins firstly was amazing. The Warriors are not winning this series without him. For every question I’ve had about the Warriors - he has been the answer.
Steph needs a second scorer; Wiggins is the guy. The Celtics play through their wings primarily; Wiggins has pumped the breaks on the Tatum is a top 5 guy train. The Celtics look bigger; well, Wiggins has got 29 rebounds in the last two games. So he has been absolutely pivotal to the Warriors' run. But let's also remember that before he joined the Warriors, he was just a super athletic, durable talented player playing under a new coach every season, and he never took the anticipated leader jump. Despite how many felt about that - that’s who he became.
Now he should be second in Finals MVP voting. And it’s not taking credit away from the progress he’s made, but without ever being put in the right situation, he would not be having the success his having today. And that situation is fundamentally a culture that rests on the shoulders of Stephen Curry. Where else other than maybe Miami are second-rounders like Poole, Payton, and even Draymond, becoming so accomplished and adored?
I call it the Stephen Curry effect because, without him, the organization would not function in the dynastic way that it does. Two games into this series - we frankly didn’t know much. Games 1 and 2 were double-digit blowouts. Now, after five games, everything is as clear as crystal.