NEW YORK: Golden State superstar Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight year on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), becoming the first unanimous winner in the award’s 61-year history after a record-breaking contribution to the Warriors’ historic season.
Curry, who returned from injury on Monday to score 40 points in Golden State’s overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers, won in a landslide, sweeping all 131 first place votes to earn 1,310 points, a statement said.
It is the first time in the National Basketball Association’s history that a player has been the blanket first pick for the award, the league said. No player, not even Michael Jordan in his pomp, has been a unanimous choice for MVP.
“I looked at the list of everybody who’s won an MVP award, all legends,” Curry said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“To be the first unanimous MVP award winner is something I don’t even know how to put into words.”
The MVP award is chosen by a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada with one vote going to fans.
Under a preferential voting system, players receive 10 points for a first choice vote, seven points for each second place vote, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth.
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard was a distant second with 634 points while the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James was third with 631 points.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (486 points) and Kevin Durant (147) rounded out the top five.
Curry is the 11th person to win back-to-back MVP awards and joins an illustrious club that includes the likes of James, Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
The award caps a remarkable year for the 28-year-old Curry, who played a starring role as Golden State compiled a 73-9 record, surpassing the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls’ 72-win campaign for the most victories in the regular season.
A new era
Curry’s personal statistics for the season rewrote the record books, and for many have helped redefine a new era for basketball.
He shattered his own record for most three-pointers, which had stood at 286, with 402. He also led the NBA scoring charts with an average 30.1 points per game and extended his own record for scoring at least one three-pointer in consecutive games to 152.
“I never really set out to change the game,” Curry said on Tuesday. “I never thought that that would kind of happen in my career.”
A determination to prove that last year’s NBA finals victory was no fluke had also spurred him to new heights this season.
“It was a year of really just aiming to get better and to achieve what people might not have thought we deserved last year,” Curry said.
“I think for us, me especially, it was one of those things where no matter how great people tell you you are or how lucky or how inadequate critics say you are, whatever you find that will to keep going is about not being complacent.”
Curry produced another electrifying display in the Warriors’ win over Portland on Monday, pouring in a record-breaking 17 points in overtime to guide his team to victory.
His game-changing cameo left Golden State’s management in a state of awed disbelief, with coach Steve Kerr revealing he had not expected Curry to have such an impact.
“The guy has basically played one game in three weeks,” Kerr said.
“I expected a lot of rust. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that kind of explosion.”
Reacting to the MVP award Tuesday, Kerr said Curry had raised the bar from last season.
“Winning MVP last year wasn’t enough,” Kerr said. “You came back this year dramatically better. I’ve seen very few players who possess the confidence you have.”