Golden State Warriors All-Star guard Steph Curry has played a critical role in leading the Warriors to three NBA championships over the course of the past four years, but he also thinks that he cost the team a title in 2016 by forcing action in the closing minutes of the series.
The Warriors, of course, held a 3-1 lead in the Finals in 2016 before the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers won three straight games to claim their first title in franchise history.
His reaction with 53 ticks left on the Game 7 clock in the 2016 NBA Finals, seconds after Kyrie Irving’s surgical 3-point shot had fallen through the strings, was a primal, instinctive response to a lifetime spent swirling in a cauldron of competition and pressure: “I gotta go back at him.”
This, Curry would recognize later, was the incorrect course of action. But in the moment, pride overrode practical sensibilities.
Curry pump-faked, created a sliver of separation, dribbled left, then crossed over to his right. The shot clock whittled down to four seconds and Curry, capitulating to the urgency, hoisted a 3 that bounced off the rim and out.
“I’m like, ‘I just need a little space’ — and that’s where I started to rush,” Curry says now. “I look back and think I could have easily gone around [Kevin Love] and gotten a 2, and we could have gotten a stop, and then I could come back down and hit another shot, and we win another championship, instead of me going for the hero shot, which I felt like I could make.
“That was a shot where I was not under control. And it cost us a championship.”
Though Curry was understandably upset with himself, and the outcome of the series with the Cavs, he obviously didn’t let the miss define him, as he and the Warriors have experienced nothing but success since.
“I guess you can say the  miss didn’t haunt me,” Curry said.
So what lesson did Curry learn from the way that those 2016 Finals ended?
“Don’t ever make the mistake of rushing like that again,” Curry said.
While lesser players often fold under difficult circumstances, the top players tend to use adversity to grow and improve, and that’s clearly what Curry did after the disappointing defeat he suffered in 2016.