Culture / Sporting Life

Stephen Curry Plays TV Shock Jock Nick Wright For a Fool, Annoys Houston Rockets Ushers

BY // 03.30.17

The Big Three linger on the Houston Rockets floor like they own the place (really, they do). Stephen Curry conducts two separate on-court TV interviews, seemingly in no rush on either one. Draymond Green does another TV spot — and Klay Thompson pulls on those oversized headphones to talk to the radio guys. Not a single Rocket is anywhere in sight.

James Harden and all his junior employees have been swept away, reduced to a footnote to the NBA’s Western Conference champs. Harden misses two straight, late drives at the rim on a night when he puts together a triple double every bit as meaningless and hollow as the one Russell Westbrook had against the Rockets a few days earlier. Curry hits a pull-up three from three feet outside the top of the key that’s as cold blooded as anything you’ll ever see on Fargo to seal things. And just like that, the idea of the Rockets being able to shoot well enough to hang with the Warriors in a seven-game series looks completely fantastical (sorry, Bill Simmons).

It’s Golden State 113, Rockets 106 in the teams’ third meeting of the season. Without Kevin Durant. With Curry in foul trouble and looking completely out of sorts before that. The best shooter on the planet misses three straight wide-open threes at one point in the second quarter.

And yet, Curry, Draymond and Klay control the game from the first quarter on. And then, Curry lingers and lingers. He’s clearly comfortable in the Rockets’ house. He takes time after the multiple interviews to sign for fans. This apparently annoys the Toyota Center ushers, who try to kick fans out of the lower bowl, displaying the type of authority gone bad that’s only usually found in mall cops. “I’m sick of seeing you tying your shoes, Sir,” I witness one usher bark at a paying customer who apparently doesn’t jump fast enough. Let the man tie his shoes!

Then again, it’s easy to see why Curry could put anyone associated with the Rockets in a testy mood. Should-be NBA Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni’s built a powerful illusion around these Rockets and scrubbed Harden’s name clean of the sins of 2015-2016. But Curry and the Warriors still have a way of popping the bubble — and reminding everyone that they reside on a whole other plane.

The next night it’s the San Antonio Spurs turn as Gregg Popovich‘s team is run off their home floor after jumping out to a 22-point lead on Golden State. In back to back road games against the third and second best teams in the entire league, Steph Curry puts up 32 point, seven assist and 10 rebound and 29 point, 11 assist and three rebound lines. All those Warrior haters — and there are almost as many irrational Curry and Golden State despisers as there are Jeremy Lin Only Haters — are suddenly at a loss.

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One of the worst (and most irrational) Curry Haters is former 610 AM Houston sports talk radio host Nick Wright, who brought his version of shock talk nonsense to FS1. Wright likes to think that he operates on a much more high-brow level than fellow Fox bloviator Skip Bayless, but in truth he’s a much less accomplished wanna be. Bayless actually spent years in locker rooms, producing good work (and writing interesting books).

Wright’s mostly known for getting stoned by former University of Houston coach Tom Herman when he asked Herman to lunch on air after a contentious interview. During his time in Houston, Wright hated all things UH (particularly Case Keenum), Jeremy Lin and anyone who didn’t genuflect at his rising star greatness and self-important Syracuse media mafia.

It’s almost predictable that Wright also hates Curry and the Warriors. Wright’s basic absurd premise is that Curry is overrated compared to Wright’s preferred stars (LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden) who he seems to believe are more hardcore. Wright’s spent most of this season (in which the Warriors have held a stranglehold over the best record in the NBA) spewing out Curry digs in his Twitter timeline.

He posted this gem earlier this month:

Curry, a two-time MVP who has changed the entire NBA and the future of basketball in general with his shooting, sacrificed immensely in order to incorporate another mega star (Durant) into his team. Sacrificed his stats in ways that LeBron, Westbrook and Harden would never dream of doing. And Houston’s shock jock gone TV kills him for it. Of course, Wright does.

With every game, Curry makes Wright look more and more foolish. Is it absurd that Curry still needs to prove himself to basketball-ignorant nitwits? Sure, but he nevertheless seems to have an awful lot of fun doing it. Curry’s still the most appointment-viewing player in the league. On his last Houston visit of the regular season, Astros owner Jim Crane comes out and sits in the first row with his girlfriend Whitney Wheeler. Of course, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, who made meaningful game nights like this possible by insisting on hiring D’Antoni, is there too, sitting next to Hakeem Olajuwon rather than his own date.

When Patrick Beverley, the Rockets’ professional pest, strips Curry clean in the open court and takes it the other way for breakaway layup on one play, he raises his finger to the crowd and practically takes a bow. But that’s pretty much it for Beverley, on a night when the lack of a real difference-making true point guard haunts the Rockets again in crunch time.

Guys like Beverley have occasional moments. Curry has seasons. Curry silences crowd. Curry makes opposing arenas his. And then, he lingers and lingers. And drives the Rockets ushers crazy.

Haters going to hate. Shock jocks, Syracuse stools and opposing team employees alike. That doesn’t change whose world it is. Stephen Curry still has the court.

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