Sports / Basketball

Curry says he's leader of the pack

By Agence France-Presse in New York (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-25 07:59

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry raised the tension levels for his Christmas showdown with Cleveland's LeBron James, saying he considers himself the world's best basketball player.

In an interview published on Wednesday, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player told Time magazine that in the next year, "you should expect me to keep getting better".

That is a bold statement from a player on pace to shatter his own one-season NBA record for 3-pointers, who had the Warriors off to a record 24-0 start and looks set to smash the record for the best season in NBA history - the 72-10 mark by Chicago in 1995-96.

 Curry says he's leader of the pack

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry drives for a layup against Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Wednesday. Curry had 16 points and nine assists as the Warriors remained unbeaten at home this season with a 103-85 win. Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports

Curry leads the NBA with 31.8 points per game and his Warriors will face four-time NBA MVP James and Cleveland on Friday for the first time since vanquishing them in the NBA Finals last June.

James, 30, has long been considered the world's best player, but Curry said he sees himself in that role now.

"In my mind, yes. That's how I have confidence out there that I can play at a high level every night," said Curry, 27.

"I don't get into debates, arguing with people about why I am, versus somebody else. I feel like anybody who's at the level I'm trying to be at, if you don't think that when you're on the floor, then you're doing yourself a disservice."

Curry, whose father Dell was also an NBA long-range sharpshooter, said he embraces his growing role as what teammate Draymond Green calls "the face of the NBA".

"You've got to be a winner and have all the right trajectory as a player and as a team to back that up," said Curry.

"The way I try to represent my family and coaches, I think all are characteristics the league aspires to portray. That's just who I am. It's not changing anything about me to fulfill that role."

Curry said the athlete he most admires is Jordan Spieth, this year's Masters and US Open golf champion.

"His maturity, the way he handles himself, his vision as a 22-year-old, is unbelievable," Curry said. "How composed he is, whether he plays well or not, is unbelievable."

Curry played golf last summer with President Barack Obama, his father and NBA legend Ray Allen, and said he was more nervous than when he was playing for the NBA crown.

"I feel comfortable on the court," Curry said. "But there on the first tee, it was the president, my dad, Ray Allen, and 40 people in the clubhouse yelling Obama's name the whole time.

"I just tried to make sure I got it in the air. I sprayed it a good 40-50 yards right. But we played the breakfast ball rule. I got to re-tee it.

"I hit a decent one the next time, and I birdied the first two holes."

Back in the NBA, Curry singled out Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul for special praise.

"The whole team aspect, the history between our two teams, but also our history individually," he said.

"I used to work out with Chris before my rookie year.

"As you go through the league, you start to try to get to where somebody else is, try to stay there and be part of the whole competitive environment.

"But yeah, there are certain guys that drive you because of their success.

"He's one of them."

Wednesday's NBA results

(Home teams in CAPS)

ORLANDO 104 Houston 101

CLEVELAND 91 New York 84

Sacramento 108 INDIANA 106

WASHINGTON 100 Memphis 91

Boston 102 CHARLOTTE 89

Dallas 119 BROOKLYN 118 (OT)

San Antonio 108 MINNESOTA 83

NEW ORLEANS 115 Portland 89

MILWAUKEE 113 Philadelphia 100

ATLANTA 107 Detroit 100

Denver 104 PHOENIX 96

GOLDEN STATE 103 Utah 85

Oklahoma City 120 LA LAKERS 85

(China Daily 12/25/2015 page24)

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