Stephen Curry bricks two free throws in the first quarter of the Warriors-Nets game Sunday. In a Barclays Center suite, Dell Curry is asked when the last time he saw that was.
"Middle school," he says.
But the father of the NBA super hero is unfazed. Stephen Curry is playing at such an unreal level that Dell is confident in how the game will develop. How confident? During the first quarter, he splits his attention between watching Stephen play against Brooklyn and monitoring the status on the Panthers-Saints game on his phone. Despite the rarity of the two missed free throws, Dell already has a read on his son's game, picking up on parts of Stephen's game that others cannot.
"I check his movement," Dell says. "What his energy level is, his movement, I can tell early on how he's feeling. I told him, if his energy stays where it's at right now, he's going to have a fabulous year. He moves so well. It's not wasted energy. He moves with a purpose."
Through 22 games, Stephen is averaging 32.4 points per game and 45.3 points per 48 minutes. Curry's current win shares per 48 minutes is .3795. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the record in 1971-72 at .3399.
This comes after winning the MVP award and NBA title last season, when his 23.8 ppg and .2881 win shares per 48 minutes seemed pretty good.
"I knew he was going to crank it up because two weeks after the season was over, he wanted to start working out again," Dell says with his Virginia drawl. "He wants to validate the MVP. He wants to validate the title. Any time, as an athlete, you taste victory, you taste the top of the mountain, you want to get there again. You know it's going to be hard, so he went right back to work as soon as the season was over."
After dispatching the Nets, the Warriors are 22-0, the greatest start in American major sports history. Dell, 51, works as the TV color commentator for Charlotte Hornets broadcasts, so there are many nights when he wraps up his game on the East Coast and heads home to catch Golden State.
"They have so many shooters, so many scorers and they're so deep," Dell says. "They have an offensive intimidation factor that you know you have to keep up with. There's no team I faced like that."
Dell mentions "offensive intimidation" periodically during the Warriors' 114-98 win. He notes that many times after the Warriors give up a basket, the first man around the hoop inbounds immediately and the Warriors return the favor on the other end with an easy look.
"You think you have two guys covered, they've got three more that can score," Dell says. "They're so unselfish. They don't run plays and if you face them for the first time, you're overwhelmed with how they move the ball and play offensively. You can't prepare for that. You have to play against it to learn how to defend it."
The Nets open the second half with a spurt and develop a 66-61 lead with 8:18 left in the third quarter. The Warriors' counterattack begins with Stephen finishing a lay-up. Stephen scores 16 points in the third and the Warriors head into the fourth with an 87-80. Fans chant "M-V-P" in an arena that, based on the eye test, seems split between those wearing the blue and gold of the Warriors and the black and white of the Nets.
At this point, Dell speaks further on those missed free throws from early in the night.
"He lets the game come to him," Dell says. "Tonight, he missed three free throws in a row, and you may think he's not going to play well. Then you look up and he's got 28 and playing well. He really can dominate the game."
Dell, who played 16 NBA seasons, is the Hornets' all-time leading scorer with 9,839 points. He could ball-handle when needed, but he made his living shooting from the wing. Dell reserved point guard duties to pass-first Muggsy Bogues. Stephen does not play like the John Stockton-Mark Jackson pass-first point guards of Dell's era.
Is he even a point guard?
"Absolutely," Dell says. "I think he's a point guard that scores and is a shooter. He's still a point guard. He's changing the game, as far as shooting threes at a high clip, but he's still a point guard. He's just a scoring point guard."
This is a role that Stephen had trouble coming to grips with back in his youth. After retiring in 2002, Dell coached Stephen's high school team.
"He tried to keep all his teammates involved, passing up shots," Dell says. "That was our biggest thing, trying to get him not to be unselfish."
Dell says this problem resurfaced during Stephen's early years in the NBA.
"He played too fast," Dell says.
In the past few years, Stephen has revamped his shot selection. After averaging 14.3 field goals attempts or less per season in each of his first three years, he averaged at least 16.8 during the past three-plus seasons. This season, Stephen is averaging 20.2 shots per game.
Stephen's career scoring average is 9.8 points higher than Dell's, but there are similarities in their games.
"When he moves without the ball coming off down screens, definitely, I see that," Dell says. "He has a knack for reading a defender that's chasing him off a screen. Early, he saw me do that, but he's leaned on his coaches a lot because the game has changed so much."
At the moment, Stephen and the Warriors are the catalyst of change in the NBA. They are doing things far-fetched in Dell's era. Golden State is a jump-shooting team overpowering the entire NBA. Charles Barkley said it could not be done.
"They proved you could," Dell says, matter-of-factly. "They still are able to score in the paint because they spread the ball and can drive the ball. That balances out the number of perimeter shots they make, but it doesn't matter if you're a perimeter team. If you can make shots, you can shoot all the jump shots you want. It's going in."
When picking his starting five of shooters from his era, Dell selects himself along with Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Dale Ellis and Craig Hodges. Could that group have won a championship playing the current Warriors' style?
"I don't know about that," Dell says with a laugh. "We'd need somebody to rebound defensively."
Dell's phone lights up with praise from players of his era.
"From Vlade [Divac] to Muggsy to Alonzo [Mourning] to LJ (Larry Johnson), they're constantly calling to congratulate me, saying they can't believe it's the same kid they saw shooting in trash cans in the family room and at practice," he says.
Last spring, Dell experienced a championship run, something he never had as a player. With Dell's other son, Seth, now in the NBA after time in the D-League, along with Dell's Hornets commitments, he is following triple the teams he worried about as a player.
On this night at Barclays Center, Dell wears an Under Armour shirt -- one of Stephen's sponsors -- as he is still getting free gear in retirement.
"It's been great," he says. "I just kind of get to tag along and go to some events."
Dell even goes into spokesperson mode, referencing the Stephen sponsor that hosted him at Barclays Center: "Degree is all about movement and that's Steph's thing."
Degree extended its relationship with Stephen for two more years Monday. A sponsor would be out of its mind letting the NBA's "It Guy" go.
After the final buzzer, Stephen is bombarded on the court for interviews. Fans lean over the Warriors bench with Stephen jerseys. Dell tries to wave from the suite level even though Stephen does not even know where he sat for the game. If extended family were in attendance, Dell would have given Stephen a heads-up, but not for this game.
It is another day at the office. Stephen put up 28 points in 32 minutes, and the Warriors' streak continues.
Dell's expression barely changes throughout the night. A few people reference Stephen having a strong game. Dell nods and smiles.
"Well, the Panthers hung on," someone else says.
Now, Dell's face lights up a little more. "I know! I saw!" he says.
Stephen Curry is playing at a consistent level his father can barely get emotional about. That is scary good.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.