OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry did things Wednesday night – lots and lots of things. Wondrous things. Ridiculous things. Things from far away and things from high in the air.
You know. Things. If you must be pedantic, 51 points in 32 minutes on 24 shots and 11 three-pointers. But that's the dry, raw data. You had to see the things to believe the things he thinged Wednesday night.
And because of that, the crowd at Oracle Arena chanted "MVP! MVP!" as though they had sufficient proof to take their 15-1 prop bet and drive the odds down with the strength of their voices.
They've done this before with Curry, but mostly as an affirmation of the two he has already won, but the MVP has changed into something decided by early returns and chat show argument rather than full-season body of work discussions. James Harden was declared the MVP by popular shouting by Christmas because he didn't win the year before, when Russell Westbrook finished his triple-double campaigning around Thanksgiving. Curry had the 2016 award locked up by January 1 by dint of relentless conversation.
To be sure, they were all worthy winners, but all proper debate ended early, thus making it less an award about value and more about obeying the hive mind.
Oh, people talked about the subject all year, don't be fooled. The media beast must be fed because it never isn't hungry. But the inevitability of the winner hits earlier and earlier every year, and Curry has jetted from the blocks faster this season than the other pre-fab candidates.
Faster, that is, than LeBron James (10-3 by the latest prop board consensus), or Anthony Davis (9-2), or Giannis Antetokounmpo (5-1) or Harden (13-2) or Kawhi Leonard (19-2) or Kevin Durant (10-1).
By deed, the favorites after five games (which is the most idiotic sentence you will read this day) would seem to be Curry and Leonard, but that's not how the chatter works. Adjustments can be made for injury, but barring that, the shouting moves minds before Christmas shopping begins in earnest.
"It's a little like high school," Steve Kerr said after feigning surprise at Curry's latest odds-cheater (his average distance on his 11 treys was 28.5 feet, that's how odds-cheating it was). "It's like one kid gets voted most popular but you don't want to give him best dressed too. It's like they want someone else to get something so they almost decide ahead of time."
Two points here: 1. Kerr is not above the occasional 50-year-old high school reference. 2. He gets the deal. Five games is far too early to even be thinking about such a thing except that it isn't any more. The debate never ends because it is on a perpetual digital stream, and it is truer in basketball than any other sport.
That said, there will be updated odds in every book in Vegas and overseas, and it will reflect well on Curry's latest jaw-slackener. His highlights – even the 30-foot- high underhand flip that came after a whistle but still dropped through the hoop, reprising a similar shot during warmups – will shown far and wide, and minds will start to bend – even smart, voting minds, the ones for whom preordination has become as much a staple of modern coverage as too many videos.
In other words, the MVP chants are very premature, and yet right on time. Stephen Curry is back in the discussion, only five games after going off at 15-1, behind all the other players we have mentioned plus Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid.
Oh, and in case this matters, the Warriors beat Washington, 144-122, and Kevin Durant had 30, eight rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes. Nobody remembered any of them. There was an award to help decide this night, October 24, in the year of our lord 2018, because that's the way it must be.
It's madness, and everyone has signed on enthusiastically for it. Here's to feeding the beast.