Stephen Curry wants to be a Warrior for life, but knows 'things change quickly'

LAS VEGAS — Change has been the constant in the Bay Area since the Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA title, and Stephen Curry could very well be the last man standing.

Klay Thompson’s defection has been proof that not even the dynastic Warriors are immune to everything that happens in professional sports, officially starting the breakup of the key members for all four championships.

And as the Western Conference continues to get better, it threatens to put the Warriors further from contention, as they were already the 10th seed this past season. Would Curry stick around for that?

“I mean, I can clearly say I want to be a Warrior for life,” Curry told Yahoo Sports in an interview Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. “It's always been my goal, and I'm saying that sitting in this chair right now, but like you said, life, and especially life in the NBA, it is a wild environment, and things change quickly.”

Curry has two years left on his contract and, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, could sign an extension this summer. The Warriors offered Thompson a shorter contract last summer that he turned down, preferring to play out the year and hit free agency. The Dallas Mavericks and other teams came calling, so now Thompson joins the reigning Western Conference champions.

Stephen Curry, right, of the Golden State Warriors, talks with Joel Embiid (11), of the Philadelphia 76ers, during training camp for the United States men's basketball team Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
Stephen Curry with Joel Embiid during training camp for the United States men's basketball team on Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

“Not having Klay man, it still hasn't really sunk in, just because you've been doing it for 13 years together,” Curry said. “And you know, (Warriors coach Steve Kerr) made a joke. He's like, 'Sometimes you can't really find Klay in the offseason, and you don't really hear from him as much, and then he shows up at training camp ready to go.'

“I kind of have this idea that October, he'll still (show up) like, ‘Hey guys, what's up?’ But I know it's not happening.”

Curry is aware there’s a perception he doesn’t use his understandable influence to move things in the organization, not in the ways LeBron James does or even Kevin Durant is rumored to, but it feels like he just goes about the business a little quieter.

“It's like this thing of, ‘Oh, does Steph want that? Or does Steph talk to the organization?' Like, if you know basketball, you know how this works, like, I know what's going on,” Curry said. “I know all the ramifications of every decision. You know I'm not making the decisions. But you know, you want that collaborative kind of approach.”

The punitive luxury tax aprons are causing teams to make difficult decisions. They were put in place to disperse talent across the league more evenly, but it has penalized teams who’ve drafted well and kept their homegrown talent.

And when one considers salaries escalate for older players, allowing them to eat up more cap space as they age, someone will get squeezed between the sides — in this case, it was Thompson.

It signals the Warriors are being careful fiscally, even as the competition gets tougher. They’ve been able to outspend other franchises, but if those days are over, one wonders if Curry will hang around just to keep the building full and the owners' coffers overflowing.

“Winning is hard in this league, man, and the fact that we've been able to do it for this long, it's been amazing,” Curry said. “Trying to keep the core together this long has been amazing. Obviously, Klay is the first one to not be a Warrior, and so it's a different, different dynamic.

“I always want to win, plain and simple. And there's no contentment on just cashing a check and playing basketball and riding it out. Pressure is applied on, like, I want to win.”

Curry will turn 37 toward the end of next season, and although he’s not at his unanimous MVP heights of 2016, he’s still the game’s most feared nuclear weapon. Curry, James and Durant are seemingly rewriting what aging gracefully looks like.

There’s no name for this Olympic team yet, but it wouldn’t be majestical if not for those three.

Curry and Durant, of course, made history as teammates, producing some of the most effective and aesthetically pleasing basketball the game has ever seen. Curry and James have gone from friendly and supportive to fierce rivals during those matchups in the NBA Finals and, now, teammates for the first time on the Olympic stage.

“Having Bron as a teammate is surreal, because you have so many battles back and forth,” Curry said. “You admired his game. You know what he's about, and to see the work up close and personal every day, to see how, you know, he prepares, how he talks in practice, like I've never had that vantage point of him.

"So (I’m) just excited to see how our games complement each other and build that chemistry that's going to help lead this team.”

Their chemistry has gone through ebbs and flows. In 2008, James went to Detroit to watch Curry’s Davidson team play in the in the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. But then there were the “3-1” cookies the Cleveland Cavaliers made to troll the Warriors following the comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals.

“Started out great at the beginning, not to say it was bad at any point,” Curry said. “Then he invited me over to his house my rookie year before we played Cleveland, in Akron.”

Then it turned when the Warriors became more than a cute story, and Curry more than a 3-point shooter. He was changing the game, and his mere presence threatened James’ standing as the game’s top dog.

“Obviously in the Finals, that brings out the the healthy animosity of somebody standing in your way of a goal. And you know, you're going to have some bad blood out there,” Curry said. “But through it all, I'm a firm believer, you can be competitive, you can have that killer instinct and see blood on the other side, but still have the utmost respect for who you're playing against.”

James, in a small media session on Sunday afternoon, almost made it seem like it was some kind of media creation he and Curry have had to fight against, bringing up the (later) friendships of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the Finals-tested friendship of Magic and Isiah Thomas, and Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley — who were close during the 1993 NBA Finals.

“You know the game of basketball don't last forever. You don't want to waste the opportunity … to have a relationship, to have that relationship (messed up) over you guys,” James said. “So, like, you know, so I don't want to lose those moments.

“As much as me and KD has went head to head, as much as you know me and Steph has went head to head, I'm able to get out of my own way, not listen to the narrative of what, the false narratives have been for so long and be able to appreciate the man himself.”

There was real heat, and if there was competitive resentment it was understandable on both sides. James had gone through the gauntlet of being run ragged by the media for coming up short, even during the occasions his play was stellar. Curry had come almost seemingly out of nowhere and didn’t go through that car wash, being anointed as a darling.

From Curry’s view, he could’ve just wanted to be appreciated by someone he admired or looked to for advice, but merely was competing against.

The Finals and all the attention it brings, puts micro issues under a very big light. What could easily roll off one’s back can get under your skin, and scars and scabs can be revealed, too.

Those tension-filled moments have melted away, though, and longstanding respect has been unearthed. Curry said James was the first one to reach out to him to gauge his interest in participating in these Olympics before last season began.

“So to now be in a situation where we're still in the same conference, they beat us in the playoffs last year and there's still that competition,” Curry said. “But I can fully enjoy this experience and get to know him at a much deeper level as teammates, and I think that's what we both deserve at this stage in our careers.”

At this stage in Curry’s career, he’s getting closer to the point of evaluating himself and the franchise he’s with. His game is so malleable, it would fit virtually anywhere, even as a co-star.

As he stated, he wants to remain with the Warriors, but the door is slightly ajar, whether he outright says it or not.

“I want to be in the best position to make that (winning) happen, (it) doesn't guarantee anything, but until that changes, and I feel that energy changes, then I go about my business the same way, and that's where I'm at,” Curry said.

“Things change quickly, and the league has changed quickly, so we're trying to adapt and evolve. And until (then) … I'll let everybody know if that changes.”