Donald Ralls | Contributing Writer
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton are quite possibly the two biggest names in sports right now.
Both are leading two first place overall teams (Warriors are 24-1 and Panthers are 12-0) and are playing at extremely high level while doing so. Curry, who was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been a fan of the Panthers since the organization began in 1995. Curry is constantly posting pictures on social media with his wife, Ayesha Curry, showing his passion for the NFL team. Curry is a legit fan, to say the least. He even attended Carolina’s playoff game in Seattle last season.
Similar to Curry, Newton likes to show his love for a state that has treated him well since being drafted first overall by the Carolina Panthers in 2009. He was spotted at the Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors “Dell Curry Night” game on December 2, sporting a jersey made famous by the legendary Hornets player, who may be known more for being Steph’s dad.
While both have been dominating their respective leagues this year, Newton has particularly been a monster in fourth quarters. He completed 20-26 passing attempts ( 76.8%) when trailing in the fourth. His Overall total quarterback rating of 76.8% in the fourth quarter ranks 1st in the NFL.
Also what sets them apart is offensive coordinator Mike Shula reestablishing the commitment to a multidimensional running game. It creates a game that is revolved around Newton and letting him play his game making others around him better.
The Panthers next three games will be against New York Giants on December 20, Atlanta Falcons on December 27 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 3. By looking at the record of these teams and taking into consideration that, if they playoffs started today they would all be out, it is possible Carolina could be in trouble but it’s not very likely. The Panthers would be 19-0 if they remain unbeaten through the Super Bowl.
The Warriors bid for a chance to be undefeated heading into the new year ended on December 12 against the Milwaukee Bucks, 108-95. It was the team’s last game of their seven-game road trip and, had they won, they would have been the first team in NBA history to go 7-0 on a road trip. When asked if there was a sense of relief following the loss, interim head coach Luke Walton said, “Not from me. Losing sucks. Even if you are 24-1, losing still sucks. I’m sure the long flight home tomorrow and guys unwinding a bit, I’m sure there will be a little relief mentally going forward.”
It’s clear to everyone that the undefeated Newton and the Panthers are great but Curry and the Warriors are still just as great, if not more so. One of the things that have contributed to the Warriors streak is their incredible team chemistry. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Warriors have a tradition of eating together on the road. They show their chemistry in the game with great communication, support for each other’s achievements, and knowing each other tendencies on the court.
It’s the small things that make the Warriors’ chemistry great, like the growing relationship between Marreese Speights and Shaun Livingston on the second unit. Livingston is a point guard by trade with great passing ability and his 6’7 frame allows for much versatility. Speights is a scorer, moving without the ball and finishing at the bucket with both hands.
Both have started to realize each other’s tendencies and have settled into their roles on the second lineup and contributed well to what the Warriors are doing. Aside from their role players, what really got Golden State over the hump in last year’s Finals and what is leading them now was not playing centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli in late game situations. This created a more fast paced team to create fast break three’s and transition lay-ups, making the game easier.
Their “small-ball” lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green is virtually unstoppable. All five are shooting threats and can give you at least 10 points a game. And, of course, in case you didn’t know, Curry is arguably the best shooter on the planet, averaging 5 three-pointers a game.
Curry and Newton are in two different sports but are both leaders of their teams and their sport top players. They continue to win games in history making fashion while staying humble enough to inspire their fans and people around the world with their smiles and charismatic personalities. These two men are great players in their profession but even greater human beings.