Last night the world of basketball held its collective breath as Steph Curry was just two 3-point goals from breaking Ray Allen’s record and becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in the three made. It took him a few minutes in the first quarter to grab the brass ring, which caused the game to hang for several minutes to give everyone at Madison Square Garden a chance to appreciate the greatness. It was a confirmation of what everyone already knew: that Steph Curry is the greatest shooter of all time.
Or at least I thought everyone knew. A few days ago on this same site, Rob Parker wrote a column entitled “Clutch-free Steph Curry is not the best shooter of all time. ” It’s such an unnecessarily contrarian take that it made me wince, drop my phone, and squeeze my pearls. “It’s ridiculous”, I thought to myself, “And where did I get these pearls?”
“In fact, Curry could make a million more three-pointers in his NBA career. However, it would be difficult for some to consider Curry the greatest shooter ever, ”wrote Parker.
If Curry had scored one million three more, that would have taken him in front of second place 337 times. Who would deny him the title then? Or by “some” do you mean just you?
It is no longer even a debate. It hasn’t been in a while. Curry is known to be the best shooter. That’s why everyone rolls their eyes when they hear Stephen A. Smith exclaim “He’s the greatest shooter of all time!” as if he were saying something illuminating or insightful. We know. We are all aboard. You don’t have to keep saying that. He could also say “Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever” or “Fruit salad is not a real dessert”.
Parker points to the lack of a signature moment as one reason Curry isn’t the best. Right on top of my head, how about draining that half-court shot to beat OKC in extra time? Does winning three championships count as a defining moment? If not, we now have that time where he broke the all-time record by three points. Quite memorable I would say. Signature, too.
Perhaps Curry didn’t have his best performances in the NBA Finals, as Parker points out. Many cite the fact that he didn’t win a Finals MVP, an award given to the best player over a period of 4-7 games, as a fool’s gold sign. He still won three championships. He won one before Kevin Durant joined the team (to play Curry, by the way) and could win more as the Warriors boast the best league record right now.
And during those championship runs, they often won series in four or five games. There won’t be that many opportunities for clutch shots when you rest for the last few minutes of play, so team C can have some experience in the playoffs.
Curry broke Ray Allen’s record in 500 fewer games, but that’s nothing special, according to Parker, as Allen averages “fewer than six triples per game” while Curry “shoots about twice as much as Allen.” For their careers, Allen has been shooting 5.7 per game and Curry is shooting 8.7, which I guess is double 5.7. It shouldn’t matter regardless, because Curry got a better percentage too.
One thing that Parker’s column lacked was an alternative. If Curry isn’t the best ever, then who is? Someone has to be the best. Parker says he would rather have Allen or Reggie Miller in a time of crisis, but even they seem to recognize Curry as the greatest, and for some reason I appreciate their opinion on the matter.
Miller, that was calling the game for TNT, said this after Curry broke the record:
The way he changed the game is almost like Babe Ruth changed baseball with the long ball. He changed the game with the three-point ball. The way all thirty teams approach the game is due to the number thirty.
When you hear “the man who changed the game”, only one player comes to mind. When Curry won his first championship in 2015, teams averaged 22.4 three-point attempts per game and today averaged 35.5. Parker may not like the “let-it-fly” era in the Association, but the teams do it because it works and because they’re trying to imitate Curry. And imitation … well, you know what they say about ‘imitation.