The Jock Blog is making a call.
After watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, and seeing a trapped Steph Curry toss a blind pass over his head from the right corner to the top of the key, where it was received by Draymond Green, then watching Steph dash from the corner to the right wing spot beyond the three-point arc, where Green returned his pass into Curry’s breadbasket, followed by a Curry wrist-flick swish for three points, and then a knee-up, knee-down, shoulder-shaking boogie down dance to celebrate a 17-point second half lead . . .
The Jock Blog is saying Steph Curry is getting his Joe Montana/Super Bowl 19 on.
In this parable, Steph is Joe. And Luke Doncic is Dan Marino.
For those of you of a certain age, you know what I’m talking about.
For those of you who have never used a land line, let me explain:
In January of 1985, the 49ers won the NFC Championship and were set to face the AFC Champion Miami Dolphins and their otherworldly QB, Marino.
Marino barreled into the Super Bowl after the greatest regular season an NFL quarterback ever had. He threw 48 TD passes, a new record. The old record was 38. He threw for 5,084 yards, a new record. The old record was 4,715.
In the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the hype was unbearable for 49ers fans. The coronation for Marino was a fait accompli. The NFL’s new king would be crowned at Stanford Stadium. Everyone knew it would be an Italian-American kid from western Pennsylvania.
Except they got the wrong guy.
Montana, the other Italian-American from western Pennsylvania, listened to the Marino hype for a full fortnight. Nobody thought Montana, already a Super Bowl champ, could outduel the rocket arm of Danny “Pick a Guy, And Let It Fly” Marino.
You know the rest.
A quietly fired-up Montana thoroughly outplayed Marino, and the 49ers won the Super Bowl, 38-16.
A cold-blooded Montana went 24-of-35 for 331 yards, three TDs, no INTs and a rating of 127.2.
An overwhelmed Marino went 29-of-50 for 318 yards, one TD, two INTs and a rating of 66.9.
By the time the lights at Stanford Stadium illuminated the playing field below, Montana turned to a cameraman late in the game, nodded his head, smiled and flashed an index finger for an iconic photo. Number one, indeed.
That brings us back to Steph and Luka.
The Western Conference Finals is not the Super Bowl, no. And two days of hype is not two weeks of hype, no. And it’s only one game in a best-of-7, yes.
But you come to the Jock Blog for explosive takes, so I’m riding this one:
Steph Curry may or may never admit that the Luka hype — which got pretty thick in the 72 hours from Game 7 in Phoenix to Game 1 at Chase Center — got to him. He doesn’t have to. All you have to do is see the two-time MVP and three-time NBA champ perform when the lights are brightest, and you know the hearth is roaring with fuel.
He’s heard how Luka is the new Kobe/Michael-level assassin. How Luka’s 32 point playoff average through 23 games is second only to Michael. How Luka craves silencing road arenas. How talk of the mystery of defending Luka dominates airwaves for days.
Just like Montana heard about Marino.
Steph hears it, he internalizes it, and I imagine he nods to himself when he is driving to work.
And then, on occasion, he will let you see, when he dances and shimmies to release his intensity.
Some have talked how Steph not winning an NBA Finals MVP is a box he needs to check on his all time legacy.
How about jump-starting that by snagging the new Magic Johnson Trophy, awarded to the Western Conference MVP? It’s a brand new award, and wouldn’t the name ‘CURRY’ look nice atop the list as the years go on?
Steph is playing in San Francisco, Montana’s town. Luka is from Dallas, a town Montana once beat in a famous conference final.
Let’s behold the fury of a motivated Steph. And when he wins the Magic Johnson Award, let’s look for him to turn his head to the camera, smile, and flash an index finger for all to see.