Steph Curry (l.) and Steven Stamkos

It's springtime. That's all.

As the NBA Finals move into their business end, and the Stanley Cup Final gets ready to kick off tomorrow, both of the conversations around them center around two players who were thought to be past it and yet are the main reasons their team is where they are. Both have had to pull their teams out of the muck at times, make up for injured or non-performing teammates, and both have come up with some of the biggest moments in their careers. Both have a lot of people asking how they forgot about him.

For the past seven years, Stamkos has been around the NBA debates more than anyone else. He can claim to have changed the whole game. There's a lot of fans who have to fight the instincts built over decades to decree yet another launch from 33 feet a bad shot, if not slap your forehead and say, "What're you doing?" before the ball expectedly only slightly disturbs the net as it passes through A lot of the ire Steph sees is either the result of basketball parochialsim or fans railing at the three-point-ification of the NBA, which he will always be the face of. The greatness of one player is a threat to someone in the past or the very way we view the sport today. The great centers of yore were not the great centers of today. The little mite took over the league in such a way.

There was no joy in the Warriors falling apart in the Finals and the struggles of the past two seasons as Curry and Klay Thompson battled injuries. It gave credence to the false belief that Curry was with Kevin Durant even though he had already won two NBA titles and two Most Valuable Player awards. Even though there are more than enough virtuoso performances there to disprove that, there is still the opinion that Steph wasn't any good in the Final itself.

With Thompson not really himself after his leg turned to cottage cheese over the past three years, Draymond Green unable to ignite the offense like he used to, and merely a gaggle of contributors instead of a gaggle of contributors, the Warriors have been up against it. He has done it at 34 with his own injury concerns because he is starting and finishing more than he used to. Defenses have been more focused on him than at any other time in the history of the Warriors.

Maybe it won't be enough, as the Celtics are more athletic, bigger, and deeper. If the Dubs are going to win a fourth championship, they will need one more game like Ares. Which is where Stamkos is currently located. The Warriors are facing a version of themselves that is not as loaded as the Lightning are. They don't do everything the Lightning do. They don't have the mileage or wear and tear of previous Cup runs on their tires.

What Stamkos has done will not be taken away from him. It has been Stamkos who has provided most of the moments to see the Bolts through. His two-goal game to put the Rangers to the sword on Saturday night will go down in Lightning history, especially his winning goal just 21 seconds after the Rangers had tied it that made it very clear to everyone, including the Rangers themselves, just who would be moving on and who wouldn' It secured a third straight Final appearance for the Lightning. The last time a team did that was 40 years ago.

Stamkos is one of only three players in the past 20 years to have at least 60 goals in a season. There was always a question as to how important Stamkos was to the team. He didn't score in the Final in 2015, but he did blow a break in the deciding Game 6. He didn't play in the conference final due to injury. They won their first cup in the bubble. He was one of the main contributors to last year's triumph, but he had been overshadowed by others.

Through his career, Stamkos hasceded that ground. He moved from center to wing to accommodate Point, and has become a better player as he gets older. Stamkos had to do everything against the Rangers because he had to return to the pivot after Point's injury. The Rangers had a chance to score at evens, but Jon Cooper kept Stamkos and his line out of the net. In the third period of Game 3, he put up a goal and an assist as the Lightning came back to win the game.

Stamkos isn't the best player on his team At a time when his team didn't have anything else to turn, he became the most important guy on the roster. They may both be up against it in the championship round, and it could be their last chance to win a title. Both will make it count, past the time when many thought they were done.