Steph Curry Q&A on Draymond Green, Warriors’ chances and playing until 45

SAN FRANCISCO – The halls inside Chase Center are bustling with TNT broadcast crew and arena workers hurriedly setting up for the Warriors’ season opener against the Lakers on Tuesday night.

They are stunned to see Steph Curry, the star of the show, sitting on a folding chair for this conversation amid the hallway madness on opening night’s eve. Curry gives a little head nod, a “what’s up” to those passing by and waving. Even in the thick of his quest to achieve unprecedented heights, Curry remains down to earth.

After a chaotic training camp – filled with long flights and fist fights – Curry will suit up for his 14th season with the Warriors on a mission shared by few in the history of the game. Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala could do something this season that only one other foursome in NBA history has done in the last 50 years.

Now 34, the man once dubbed the baby-faced assassin is defying age and logic to lead the charge for the Warriors. How does Curry feel about their odds to repeat, the drama of the past couple weeks, and his future in the game he has revolutionized? He addressed those questions and quite a few more during an exclusive interview Monday.

Do you ever think about what winning a fifth title will mean, and winning a fourth title has meant, in terms of this team’s place in NBA history?

It’s not something I wake up and think about. Other than the context of what we went through the last three years, getting back to that mountaintop, has that sunk in yet? For me, it hasn’t yet. We’re still in the fight to be competitive and win more.

The thing that resonated was that Klay (Thompson) and Andre (Iguodala) and Draymond (Green) and I are the first teammates since Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis — the only other foursome –– to win at least four titles together (in the last 50 years: 1982, ’85, ’87 and ’88 with the Los Angeles Lakers).

That’s a special accomplishment, but it’s still too early to let any other thoughts creep in while we’re chasing stuff.

You’ve said you want to be a Warrior for the rest of your career. What does this place mean to you and is that true?

Definitely true. It obviously helps because we’ve grown and this is what we built. What we’ve built here is unique. And how we’ve maintained it, adding young guys who figure it out. It goes against everything the league has shown over the years. This is really hard to do.

To play for one team my whole career will be special considering that we’ve won along the way.

How confident are you that this team can be repeat NBA champions?

I don’t need to say it. We’re very confident. But we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. The team has different challenges that we have to conquer and different competition that will be out there.

That’s the goal. We have a lot of guys that can do it, we have young guys that have now experienced that stage and know what to expect. Some guys that don’t. Excited to watch them figure it out.

You guys made winning championships look easy. Can you describe the process of building what’s become a historic team?

It’s hard to summarize 11 years into one soundbite, but people don’t realize what those first four years were like missing the playoffs. Losing to San Antonio (in 2013), losing to the Los Angeles Clippers (in 2014), getting over the hump the next year.

Those are four long years learning how to lose. Learning how to lose together and still come back the next year stronger. That’s been a big part of winning, because losing is hard and exposes a lot of things about how you’re made and how resilient you are. Those lessons show up at the biggest moments for us. That was the part that was hardest to build.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23), Stephen Curry (30) and Klay Thompson (11) pose for a picture after their 103-90 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Learning to lose helped you learn how to win?

For sure. It sounds cliche, but it’s the honest truth.

In the aftermath of the Draymond Green situation, people are dubbing this the Last Dance because Green’s future with the team is contractually not set in stone. What do you say to people who think that?

Whenever someone has success, the imagination wanders to when the end is and what is going to be the reason that it unfolds.

I heard it back in 2019. I heard during the pandemic. We hear it a little louder now because we won again. We would have heard it louder had we not won. Nobody has any idea what’s going to happen.

Nobody last year could have guessed that JP (Jordan Poole) and Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) would be in the situation they are in now. Potentially being coveted free agents that we locked into extensions. Not a lot of people put money on that.

The conversations are part of what we do. For Draymond, Klay, me, we’ve been through it and we’re used to it. We hope that the end is when we don’t win. That should be the end, when there’s a sense that we’re not a championship contending team. We know it’s not guaranteed to win a championship. When we know we’re a team that can legitimately win championships then you make certain decisions. We haven’t been in that situation.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 13: Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) high five against Boston Celtics in the first quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 13, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

How confident are you in Draymond’s ability to succeed after the Poole incident?

Very. He’ll figure it out. We will have his back for the entire process. He doesn’t need anyone to hold his hand. He responds well to adversity and critics.

One of your mantras after the title was “What are they going to say now?” in response to talking heads who doubted the Warriors could climb the mountaintop. Do you guys have anyone left to prove wrong?

We use that as soundbites because it’s real and we hear the noise and proving people wrong is fun. The real motivation comes from what’s already built inside you. It’s great to have outside influence on that. It makes the long days of the season more meaningful because you can light a fire.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 20: Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) holds the NBA Finals MVP trophy as he greets fans during the Championship Parade on Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, June 20, 2022. The Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics to win their fourth NBA Championship in eight years. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Ownership is spending a lot to keep this contention window open. How involved are you in the front office decisions? 

It’s a collaboration for sure. That’s how good organizations are run. But I’m not the GM, coach or Joe (Lacob) and Peter (Guber). My name isn’t written on everyone’s checks. It’s a collaboration that I expect to continue. Whatever the decisions you make across the board, we’ve all been very comfortable with how that’s played out here. Hopefully that continues.

The fact we have won championships and have a core that wants to play together and wants to stay together. We try to make that happen no matter what it takes. I get there’s a lot of conversation around how the rules work for teams rewarding their own players. That’s how things evolve in the league.

If you want to win championships, you do what it takes to win championships. And we’ve proven we can do it together. You’d almost have to be an idiot to break that up for whatever reason.

How nice was it to see Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins get those contract extensions? Does it change the vibe?

First and foremost, I’m happy for them. I don’t think it changes the vibe. But for them, hopefully it gives them a sense of comfort and confidence that they know where their future is and it takes a load off their shoulders to go hoop.

We obviously know down the road there’s circumstances and decisions we have to get through but that’s part of the NBA, that’s part of the league. I want everyone to be locked into what the task is and get rid of any distractions in the way. If that’s going to be a distraction for them I’m glad it’s not going to be there. Because it speaks to our culture, winning, environment, that those two guys showed up in two different places in their careers and found a home and are getting rewarded for it.

Director of sports medicine Rick Celebrini is relatively new here but established in the NBA as someone who extends careers. He worked with Steve Nash as he won MVPs with the Phoenix Suns in his mid-30s. How has Celebrini and the evolution of sports medicine helped you extend your career?

The year-long process is a constant steady drip of feedback, strategy, program building and crisis management. With injuries, trying to prevent them but also dealing with things that happen on the court and maintain the level that I’m at. It’s not one conversation or one thing I’ve done, it’s constant back-and-forth that puts me in a good position to extend this for as long as I can.

Sometimes you wake up and remember you’re in your mid-30s, but I don’t feel like that most days. So I try to maintain that for as long as I can. His approach, the staff’s approach trying to manage the whole body. It all matters. You have to be disciplined and committed to the work because your availability is everything. They’ve done an amazing job of catering to each individual player in each part of their career.

How has that dedication paid off?

You have to evolve from year to year. I’m a creature of habit and routine, but that routine doesn’t have to be the same thing every year. Based on your age, mileage you put on, the way your body responds. The biggest thing is being able to adapt and evolve to what’s necessary. I always continue to assess where I am. Because if I do the same thing every year, it could be a detriment in terms of over exerting yourself and listening to how your body adapts and changes.

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What kind of advice has Tom Brady, playing at the highest level at age 45, given you about extending your career?

The biggest thing is just being real with yourself on what it’s going to take to win and that will reveal itself as you go. Particularly with the specifics and intricacies in how we play.

It’s about figuring out what this team needs from me to be successful. Those questions are always in the spirit of figuring out what that is. It changes every year. It’s different from what they needed from me two seasons ago, to score 30 points per night. Last year it was about peaking at the right time to help spearhead the playoff run. What I need to do this year will reveal itself.

Do you want to play until you’re 45?

I don’t know. I’d imagine not. I hope my body is in decent enough shape where that can be a question. I don’t know. It’s not that far away. It’s just about how your body feels. Football and basketball are two different sports. If that’s a realistic thing, I hope I take care of myself where that’s a possibility.

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