Sports

An Oral History of Steph Curry’s Botched Overtime Dunk

The Houston Rockets clawed their way back into their second-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday with a Game 3 overtime win. While James Harden hit a step-back 3-pointer in the extra period to seal the 126-121 victory, a Steph Curry screw-up has become the game’s key talking point. With Golden State down 5 points and 21 seconds remaining, Curry botched a wide-open dunk attempt. He and his stunned teammates didn’t even attempt to extend the game by fouling, and the Rockets dribbled out the clock before a joyous Toyota Center crowd.

Curry, who has been battling a finger injury, played one of his worst games in recent memory. He shot 7-for-23 from the field and didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter or overtime. The missed dunk was the cherry atop his awful performance. What follows is a collection of quotes from players, coaches, and media members that help tell the story of Curry’s playoff lowlight.

Mike Breen (ABC play-by-play announcer): Steph Curry behind the back, drives down the lane … and misses the jam! Ooh! He missed it!

In the locker room after the game, Warriors players and coaches talked to reporters about the miss.

Steph Curry: I just got to make those.

Andre Iguodala: It just happens sometimes.

Steve Kerr: He just had a tough night.

Iguodala: I don’t worry about it—he’ll be fine.

OK. That’s sort of where this oral history ends. The Warriors were relatively chill about everything, so the quotes aren’t as juicy as I would have hoped. To fill out the rest of this oral history, here is some dialogue from the NBC basketball sitcom Hang Time, which aired on Saturday mornings between 1995 and 2000. The following scene is from the season 1 episode “Will the Real Michael Maxwell Please Stand Up.” After Deering High star Michael Maxwell misses two big free throws against a rival squad, Coach Bill Fuller (Reggie Theus) brings in NBA superstar Grant Hill to give him a pep talk.

Michael Maxwell: Mr. Hill, sir, you’re my favorite player.

Grant Hill: And I’ve heard of you, too.

Michael Maxwell: You have?

Grant Hill: Yeah. You’re the guy who bricked those two free throws.

Michael Maxwell: That’s cold, Grant.

Coach Fuller: Michael has suddenly come down with one of those “sore wrist” things.

Grant Hill: Oh, that’s too bad. [Throws ball at Michael, who catches it.]

Coach Fuller: Huh. It’s all better. It’s a miracle.

Grant Hill: You know, Michael, there once was this kid, the scrawniest, geekiest kid you ever saw. In his first junior high game he took 11 shots and missed them all. He was so humiliated he didn’t go to school for two days.

Michael Maxwell: I know exactly how he felt.

Grant Hill: The thing is, if he let that one day defeat him, he never would have made it to the NBA.

Michael Maxwell: I hear you. And come on, that geeky kid was you, wasn’t it Grant?

Grant Hill: Me? That was coach Fuller. [Lots of laughter.] He came and gave that same corny speech to my high school.

Coach Fuller: I think Grant’s point is that you can’t run away from failure. On a court, or in a speech class.

Grant Hill: The real winners step up and deal with it.

Curry has an opportunity to take that advice on Monday when the Warriors take on the Rockets in Game 4. Will he be able to deal with his failure, or will he fail speech class? Tune in to find out.