Active players with similar alignment: Draymond Green, Jose Alvarado
Former players with similar alignment: Steve Nash, Pete Maravich
Dungeons and Dragons’ alignment chart is brilliant. So is the chaos Steph Curry creates.
In a time of such social disarray and Stranger Things supremacy, DnD’s three ethical categories of “Lawful,” Neutral,” and “Chaotic” can help you understand just about anyone’s brand of good or evil. Average movie star? True Neutral. Putin? Lawful Evil. But in a society as absurd as the United States’, chaos, as defined by DnD, is the default setting on an individual:
Chaotic aligned characters live by their own rules instead of the rules society has decreed. They believe that is the only way an individual is truly free and can live up to their full potential.– “DnD Alignments Explained,” My Kind of Meeple
Scammers, freelancers, and crypto investors. Mass shooters and killer cops. “Abolitionists” who still want to imprison the bad guys. Pro-lifers that love guns and hate welfare. Americans are chaotic! They are also capable of shocking reaches to justify their actions or beliefs, even as they lose value and cause harm to others. Mental gymnastics are necessary when society requires someone’s loss at the expense of your victory.
But then here goes Steph Curry — you know, the living legend who runs endlessly and makes shots from anywhere — fully committing to a screen for Kevon Looney (??). Then you watch him get the ball on the wing and pass out of a double team to find the open guy that finds the open guy. Then, and only within the rhythm of his team’s offense, he nails a pull-up 30-footer and makes a shish kebab out of the other team’s hopes and dreams.
When Steph Curry plays his way, a universe of possibilities opens up for everyone else on the court wearing the same jerseys. None of his teammates sacrifice output, glory, or joy to play alongside him. Everyone wins, and we would call it un-American if it didn’t result in such domination.
Across all fields of work, most people who are “him” or that person don’t make others around them much better. And the ones that do can only sacrifice for so long before their top-dog status needs reassuring. But a player fresh off of back-to-back league MVPs
allowing asking a former MVP still in his prime to join him — and squashing the risk of an ego clash in an otherwise dramatic, persona-driven league — is more impressive than most of his regular season stat lines. That’s saying something when 25/6/5 on 60 percent true shooting this past year was a drop in production.
“Warriors Basketball” as we know it is almost a decade old. Still, there is no team in the league like them. A team that makes champion contributors out of forgotten veterans. A team that makes stars out of unsung draft picks. A team where stars defer to each other and run miles a game, often without the ball, in hot pursuit of someone else’s next easy bucket. Teams are not supposed to do those things. And superstars are not supposed to be like Stephen Curry. This is the NBA. This is America (and Toronto). The league survives by selling superheroes, not selfless synergy. But since 2015, the supreme franchise in major US team sports is the most collectivist one.
Mark Jackson knew well enough to make Steph the Dubs’ focal point on offense, but Steve Kerr, ever the Neutral Good, is the man who truly unleashed Curry Chaos. With complete support from the franchise’s higher-ups, Golden State has gifted us for years with patented Curry flurries and 3rd Quarter Warrior frenzies. With Steph blazing the trail, the Warriors achieved liberation.
Positions and status be damned. Klay’s hot? Klay gets the shot. The 6’6″ power forward can bring the ball up and throw 60-foot passes? Let him! Keep a good thing going and start a 22-year-old one year removed from the G League over a newly-healthy Steph in the playoffs? Fine. Being a Warrior in the Curry era means you will get chances to do the best thing for the team with the full trust of the team.
Almost ten years later and it doesn’t seem to matter if they have Marreese Speights and Harrison Barnes, or Nick Young and Jonas Jerebko, or Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. getting significant minutes. It doesn’t seem to matter how many All-Stars other teams amass in retaliation, or how ridiculous media-fueled doubts become. The Curry-led Warriors keep bringing too-good-to-be-true levels of basketball into reality, a graceful and ever-changing swarm with a million moving parts working toward the common goal of winning.
The goal of a sport is random, sure. But what athletes produce in pursuit of that goal can mean the world. And in a chaotic society with chaotic people that get in each other’s way as the world burns, Steph Curry’s chaos creates order.
His chaos started a revolution, a disciplined one that leaves opponents dismantled while his team evolves in harmony. His chaos creates chances for even the youngest soldiers to make an impact and get promoted. He could take more shots, screen less, whine more, and play lazier defense. He could even justify those selfish choices. But Steph Curry is a master sorcerer, one who controls the dark magic of ego and talent while many of his peers are controlled by it. Steph Curry wields chaos responsibly, freeing himself and everyone around him for the better. That — I have to say it — is so inspirational.
UPDATE 7/16/2022: Edited for diction and formatting