Greatest shooter of all time. That’s what everyone’s been calling Golden State’s Stephen Curry for years, for obvious reasons. Nobody in the history of basketball has done more 3-pointers or made the art of putting a ball through a basket look easier than Curry.
He deserves this award.
And it still seems like he’s been undercut.
Thing is, Wardell Stephen Curry II isn’t just the greatest shooter of all time. It’s time to finally call him what he is – one of the greatest players of all time. Go ahead, bring him into the greatest conversation ever. It’s a debate that will never end anyway, and he’s earned the right to be a part of it for one simple reason.
He changed the game. The 3-pointer is vital now, and Curry has done it that way.
“I think he pretty much proved what he’s capable of,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after the NBA Finals ended Thursday night with Golden State as champions and Curry as Finals MVP. “But to see how he deserves that, he’s one of the greatest of all time and we all followed him and my goodness that was great. What a series.”
Yes, what series did Curry have.
And what a player.
Curry’s spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame was locked well before Thursday night when he scored 34 points and the Warriors won their fourth title in eight years by leading the Boston Celtics 103-90. What this meant, however, was clear. Curry cried tears of joy before the game was over, unable to hold back the emotions any longer.
“I’m happy for everyone, but I’m thrilled for Steph,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr as champagne erupted in the champions’ locker room in Boston following Golden State’s title win. “For me, this is his culmination of an already incredible career.”
This was his crowning glory. At least for now.
There’s also no reason to think there can’t be a fifth ring for this Warriors era as long as a wholesome curry leads the way.
“Best point guard ever,” said Golden State’s Andre Iguodala.
Add that to the list too. And his legend on the pitch just keeps growing. 34-year-old Curry is stronger than ever, tougher than ever and somehow more motivated than ever. He’s already had three rings this year, has a 3-point record, more money than he could spend in 10 lifetimes, and there’s no corner of the world where he’s not known or revered. His wife Ayesha is a world-class chef. He’s made birdies at Augusta National.
Curry had nothing left to prove by any measure.
Apparently he had a different opinion. When last season ended in a Play-In tournament loss, Curry went straight back to work with that title in mind, knowing that few so-called pundits believed the Warriors had a chance to extend their dynasty. They had three titles and five finals trips in five years from 2015 to 2019, then injuries and roster changes sent them to the bottom of the NBA in 2020 and to the outside of the playoff picture last year.
Now forget everything. Curry rules again.
“Damn, we did it. It’s crazy to think about,” Curry said. “All the talk has paid off. Manifest your destiny a certain way, and that stubbornness – who we are is more important than what anyone says about us – is why we are here.”
His resume is ridiculous: Curry is an eight-time All-Star, two-time NBA MVP, one of which was unanimous, two-time scoring champion, All-Star Game MVP, now a four-time champion — and, finally, an NBA Finals MVP, also by unanimous decision .
Not bad for a player who finished 7th in his draft class, got kicked out of his first college practice session at Davidson for showing up late, and was plagued by many worries in his early NBA years — he was too small, his ankles were too bad — and it took him five seasons to make his first All-Star game.
“I thank God every day that I get to play this game at the highest level with some great people,” Curry said on the floor as the celebration began, tears streaming down his face, the cue ball under one arm. “That’s what it’s about.”
Only a few people saw this coming 13 years ago.
The night Curry was drafted in 2009 after six players who collectively have zero NBA championships heard their names called out in front of him, the Warriors made no effort to hide their excitement.
It wasn’t exactly lavish praise, either.
“He’s a guy who will fit in well,” said Larry Riley, the Warriors’ general manager at the time.
It’s probably safe to say that Riley was right. Understated, sure, but right.
Now he has more.
The fourth parade is Monday. The fourth ring is coming this fall. The respect should be there forever now. He’s not just a great shooter anymore. It’s official: Stephen Curry is a gamer for all time.
“For Steph to win a Finals MVP, and I know he said it doesn’t matter…but to add that to your résumé as a competitor, that’s what you want,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “Well deserved for him. It took a long time. But he left no doubt. Left no doubt. He carried us. And we are here as champions.”