Last night the basketball world held its collective breath as Steph Curry was only two 3-pt field goals away from breaking Ray Allen’s record and becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in made threes. It only took him a few minutes into the first quarter for him to grasp the brass ring, which caused the game to stop for several minutes to give everyone in Madison Square Garden a chance to appreciate 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 very website, Rob Parker wrote a column titled “No-clutch Steph Curry is not the best shooter of all time.” It’s a take so unnecessarily contrarian that it made me gasp, drop my phone, and clutch my pearls. “That’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. Even still, it would be hard for some to consider Curry the greatest shooter ever,” wrote Parker.
If Curry made a million more threes, that would put him ahead of second place by 337-fold. Who would deny him the title then? Or by “some” do you just mean you?
It’s not even a debate anymore. It hasn’t been for quite some time. It’s just common knowledge that Curry is 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!” like he’s saying something enlightening or insightful. We know. We’re all on board. You don’t have to keep saying it. He might as well be saying “Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever,” or “Fruit salad isn’t a real dessert.”
Parker points to a lack of a signature moment as a reason for Curry not being the greatest. Just off the top of my head, what about draining that half court shot to beat OKC in overtime? Does winning three championships count as a signature moment? If not, now we have that time he broke the all-time three-point record. Pretty memorable I’d say. Signature, even.
Maybe Curry hasn’t had his best performances in the NBA Finals, as Parker points out. Many cite the fact that he hasn’t won a Finals MVP, an award given to the best player over a 4-7 game stretch, as some sign of fool’s gold. He has still won three championships. He won one before Kevin Durant joined the team (to play with Curry, by the way) and he could win more as the Warriors boast the best record in the league right now.
And during those championship runs, they were often winning series in four or five games. There aren’t going to be as many opportunities for clutch shots when you’re resting for the final minutes of the game so the C-team can get some playoff experience.
Curry broke Ray Allen’s record in 500 fewer games, but that’s nothing special, according to Parker, because Allen averaged “less than six threes a game” while Curry “shoots about double the amount than Allen.” For their careers, Allen shot 5.7 per game, and Curry is shooting 8.7, which I guess is twice as many as 5.7. It shouldn’t matter regardless, because Curry shot a better percentage as well.
One thing that was missing from Parker’s column was an alternative. If Curry isn’t the best ever, then who is? Someone has to be the best. Parker says that he would rather have Allen or Reggie Miller in crunch time, but even they seem to recognize Curry as the greatest, and for some reason I value their opinion on the matter.
Miller, who was calling the game for TNT, said this after Curry broke the record:
The way he changed the game is almost like how Babe Ruth changed baseball with the long ball. He has changed the game with the three-point ball. How all thirty teams approach the game is because of number thirty.
When you hear “the man who changed the game,” there’s only one player that comes to mind. When Curry won his first championship in 2015, teams averaged 22.4 three-point attempts per game, and today they average 35.5. Parker may not like the “let-it-fly era in the Association” but teams do it because it works, and because they’re trying to imitate Curry. And imitation… well, you know what they say about imitation.