Steph Curry: Top Five All-Time Player
After eight months and over 2,500 games, The Golden State Warriors have won the 2022 NBA Championship.
It represents their fourth title in eight seasons, and their fourth from their six trips to the NBA Finals in that time. Much has and will continue to be written about the performances from their deciding Game 6 victory in Boston, as well as the series and their Playoff run in its entirety, but that’s not what I want to talk about on the back of this recent success.
I want to talk about Steph Curry and his place amongst the all-time greats.
It seems only fitting and serendipitous that during the NBA’s 75th Anniversary season that not only would two teams who were their when the league started in 1946 feature in the Finals, but that one of them would be lead by a member of the NBA 75 team that was announced during the League’s All-Star game in February. Most pundits who put their neck out and actually ranked the Top 75 players of all time had Curry in the low-to-mid teens, but this doesn’t sit right with me. In my opinion, Curry deserves more recognition.
It’s easy to get carried away with the Warriors and Curry’s recent win. Sometimes our thoughts are clogged by a recency bias that presents itself without us even knowing, however anyone who listened to the most recent edition of the podcast (Episode 64) would know that that Steph Curry is Top-5 all time in my books, and was before he claimed a Finals MVP for the first time in his career.
Additionally, I said there is a case that I often debate with myself about whether or not he deserves to be on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore along with Jordan and LeBron – both of whom are universally accepted as the #1 and #2 players to ever take the court.
Steph Curry has changed the game, single-handedly redefining what a 'good' shot is. This game winner against Oklahoma City remains his most iconic deep-range shot. Credit: The Midfield
Curry has the accolades to warrant being that high on the all-time list of greats in my opinion. I won’t list them all here because to do so would be exhaustive, but the cliff notes are as follows: 4x NBA Champion, 1st in three-pointers made in NBA history, 2x MVP, x1 Finals MVP, 8x All-NBA selection and 8x All-Star. There are countless other achievements in Curry’s career that you can find with the simplest of Google searches too, however none of those individually make him stand out above others in this conversation.
When it comes to an all-time list, inevitably, there are a host of players who have similar awards and accolades throughout their careers. The Championships and team success. The individual achievements like the Most Valuable Player Award and a skill-set that saw them become to greatest the ever excel in one part of the game. Curry, like all of those debated on this list, has all of those boxes ticked. He has something extra in my opinion though. Something that few players have ever been able to lay claim to, and something even fewer still can claim in addition to the team and individual success I mentioned above.
That intangible is a recognition that they, single handedly, changed the game. The aforementioned consensus #1 and #2 to ever play the game in Jordan and LeBron both have this as part of their legacies.
Steph Curry raises the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy after claiming his fourth title and first Finals MVP in Boston last week. Credit: The Indian Express
Jordan changed the game in the way it was marketed and recognized overseas, the NBA’s thoughts about needing to have a big lead your team if you wanted Championship success and set the standard every basketball player the world over is striving to reach and exceed going forward. Still to this day, his win-at-all-costs persona and on-court exploits transcend generations and he continues to be universally renowned as the Greatest of All Time.
James also had similar impact with player empowerment and dictating to teams the terms on which he plays. He paved the way for the plethora of player movement we see now and the way players plot to move from team to team, joining forces with their friends or other high profile stars in the process. The Celtics may have had a ‘big three’ first with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Piece, but those were not player driven decisions – those were dictated by teams facilitating trades.
James’ decision to recruit Chris Bosh to join him in Miami with Dwyane Wade while all free-agents during the summer of 2010 broke a glass ceiling on the level of influence an individual player has across the league in a way many thought would never be possible. Some would argue this change in the very dynamic under which the league operates carries a greater impact and legacy than that of Jordan, and the leagues, ascendancy to stardom all over the world.
Curry’s impact is the revolution of the NBA’s offensive game, redefining what a ‘good’ shot is. The distance, the circumstance, and more importantly, the cultural impact the world over. A bit like when people yelled “Kobe” at rec leagues the world over while attempting a clutch shot in the late 2000’s, kids now yell “Curry’ when they pull up from 6ft behind the line.
Steph Curry poses with Ray Allen (left) and Reggie Miller (right) after becoming the all-time leader in three-pointers made at a game in New York in 2021. Credit: Nathaniel S Butler - Getty Images
His impact is seen in fellow NBA stars like Trae Young and LaMelo Ball, who both entered the NBA after growing up watching the prime of Steph’s career and both possess the confidence to pull up from as deep as they choose. It can also be seen with other established stars like Damian Lillard who have since developed their deep shooting to try and emulate the threat Curry is with the ball in his hands. None have completely mastered the depth and consistency Curry has with his long-ranged shot though, and it’s seen him become the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made by a large margin – and counting.
I’ll come clean once and for all here: I used to dislike Curry. As a fan of a rival Pacific Division team who Curry regularly beat up on with what I would call ‘bad shots’, I couldn’t stand him. However, as he has changed the game and redefined the very notion of what a ‘good shot’ is, I’ve come to appreciate his unmatched brilliance in an era where so many have tried to become the threat he is.
They’ve all failed, by the way.
Curry is an all-time top-five player in my opinion – and with the Warriors Championship window far from over, he could rise even further in future discussions about just who are the best to ever take to the hardwood.
Steph Curry poses with three of his now 4 Larry O'Brien Trophies. Credit: Media Referee
So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
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