Self-Confidence Propels Golden State Warriors To Next Level


Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is a man of faith, and it’s through that faith and enduring self-confidence that has turned him into the reigning MVP of the NBA and quite possibly the best player in the league at this current juncture.

Yes, many are aware of Curry’s Christian roots and how deeply his religious beliefs are cemented in everything he does: “I can do all things,” an excerpt from a longer verse in the Bible, is blazoned on the tongue of his signature shoe for Under Armour, and fans everywhere are familiar with his signature shot celebration in which he pats his chest once and points up toward the sky.

But as important as religious faith may be, the faith to which I’m referring to was founded just recently — five years ago, to be exact.

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The cornerstone for Golden State’s sense of faith was laid by former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson. A pastor with NBA broadcasting experience, his abilities as an orator and motivator were uncanny, thereby opening up the opportunity for players that had grown accustomed to losing NBA seasons to develop a winning attitude. Despite his many faults within the organization, the credit for breeding that winning mentality within each of the players goes directly to Jackson, and the seed only continued to grow from there.

An act of faith that was unrelated to Jackson’s work with the players: Monta Ellis, formerly the best player on the Warriors, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for their perennially injured former 1st overall pick, Andrew Bogut. Many did not believe the organization to be in the right mind after trading Ellis, going so far as to publicly and loutishly rebuke owner Joe Lacob during Chris Mullin‘s jersey retirement ceremony.

Picking players in the draft is, in itself, little acts of faith. In 2011, the Warriors took Klay Thompson with the 11th pick despite already having Ellis. In 2012, general manager Bob Myers changed the franchise forever after drafting Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green. A great deal of faith was even displayed at this year’s draft with Golden State taking power forward Kevon Looney out of UCLA despite various reports of him having preexisting injuries.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest leap of faith in regards to the Warriors’ draft history? With the 7th overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors selected Stephen Curry out of Davidson College in North Carolina.

Some said he was too small, too frail to be a force in the NBA; others said he was and would never be a true NBA point guard (shoutout of gratitude goes out to David Kahn for lacking said faith).

Some still referred to him as “Dell Curry‘s son,” as if anyone reading this in 2015 can believe that. By comparison, I’ve actually had a friend ask me “Who’s that?” when Dell was shown on camera, only to have another friend answer, “Oh, that’s Steph Curry’s dad. He used to play in the NBA, too.” Crazy how things change.

My point: taking a chance on Curry at that particular moment in time and continuing to bet on him even after the never-ending ankle injuries were acts of faith that no one could have foreseen leading to him headlining a roster that will one day be recognized as one of the best in NBA history.

And after winning a title, that faith has only continued to grow amongst Golden State’s personnel, turning them into the league’s most dominant team since Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls. ESPN’s Amin Elhassan put it ever so eloquently in Tuesday’s episode of the NBA Lockdown podcast:

"“They do everything with such a belief that no one has even a smidgen of a chance against them, and that belief system right there is making guys play above what we expected them to play,” said Elhassan.“Them winning that championship validated everything in their minds about how great they are, and now they really, really can’t be stopped.”"

Elhassan named off a couple examples of how their new belief system has helped catapult the Warriors to being the best of the best, such as Draymond Green shooting 13-for-29 (44.8 percent) from behind the arc and Festus Ezeli becoming a pick-and-roll threat after not being able to “catch a cold for much of his career.”

Elhassan would also make a solid point mentioning how Andre Iguodala sacrificed his starting role for the good of the team, becoming the team’s sixth man and later, their Finals MVP. Iguodala believed in Steve Kerr‘s judgement, resulting in not just endless praise for Iguodala’s commitment to his team, but the team’s first title in 40 years.

"“If they (the Warriors) were at 95 percent or 90 percent bought in[to the system] last year, they are ALL the way in right now,” Elhassan said. “And with them playing all the way in, it’s a rare thing; you don’t see that in basketball, where you have everybody on the roster pretty much sacrificing consistently and not having a problem with it.”"

There were a number of other sacrifices made by Warriors players on the way to last season’s championship run, but if last year’s title win proved anything, it’s that all the sacrifices they made up to this point were worth it. Now equipped with a new, refined sense of self-confidence, the leaps that each and every Warriors player has made over the offseason have been noticeable and well received: Barnes is handling the ball much better, Green’s shooting has improved, Ezeli gets after the ball instead of running away from it, etc.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Even Brandon Rush, who did very little on the way to a title last season, has looked better this season, showing he’s regained some of his confidence and is looking to get back to form. James Michael McAdoo has continued to prove he’s coming into his own, Shaun Livingston is knocking down nearly ever turnaround jumper he gets a look at, Curry is playing out of his mind and into NBA history books…to be honest, it’s really no wonder Leandro Barbosa believes they’re gonna be championship again.

The Warriors are a first class organization and a model of excellence and execution both on and off the court, and it all really started with a little bit of faith in that what they were doing was just a small step in the right direction. Somewhere down that road, that investment began to yield small returns here and there, which later resulted in the highly coveted Larry O’Brien trophy taking up semipermanent residence in the Bay Area.

So I see your Philippians 4:13, DubNation, and I raise you a Matthew 17:20 — ” Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Translation: Faith can move mountains.

Or in this case, a league of basketball players.

Next: Ugly Win Reveals Warriors' Character

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