The shot has been replayed millions of times already on video and social platforms. And considering it was from the stands before a game, it obviously didn’t even count.
Such is the lure of Stephen Curry.
When he does something, everyone tunes in.
For those who haven’t seen what he did Saturday night, here it is. It’s a tradition he continued from the Golden State Warriors’ former home, Oracle Arena, and brought to the Chase Center. At Oracle, it was a shot from the tunnel at the end of his pregame shooting session. At Chase, it’s been from a variety of places, most recently a corner of the stands. A security guard fires him a ball and Curry lets it fly.
“He’s got range,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
Curry’s got it all. Range, game, rings, charm, skills, a sparkling resume, a great organization, a great arena, a great fan base and a great team again. He’s funny. He’s one of the best interviews in the NBA. He’s made birdies at Augusta National. He went to the Ryder Cup as a fan and actually thought nobody would notice.
He’ll be 34 by the time the season ends, is averaging just under 28 points per game and is playing like he has a very real chance of winning the NBA’s MVP award this season.
The Golden State Warriors, along with Phoenix, are an NBA-best 20-4 after beating the Orlando Magic on Monday night. They’ve been playing as well as any team in the league. They’re a legitimate title contender. And in a few days, Curry will overtake Ray Allen as the career leader in 3-pointers made.
Curry has 2,958 after making seven in Monday’s win over the Magic. Allen retired with 2,973. Fans in Philadelphia on Saturday or Indiana on Monday are probably going to see a treat — some history, when Curry becomes the 3-point king.
There are some arguments that never will be settled. Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell, LeBron James or Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson or Pat Riley, Celtics dynasty or Bulls dynasty.
In the best shooter argument, though, there really is no debate.
It’s Curry. Case closed. The dunk used to be the coolest thing in basketball. It’s the 3 now and Curry is why.
“There’s never been anyone like him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
If the NBA had a likeability metric, Curry would be the leader there, too. He’s 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, not 6-foot-10 and 275. And although he’s put on some noticeable muscle in recent years, he still kind of has the everyman vibe to him. He plays the way that most people on playgrounds think they play: great ballhandling, great shooting, except he’s actually a great ballhandler and great shooter, and the guy on the playground makes the occasional deep 3 and gets to pretend.
“I think he was still, for some reason, under the radar in the beginning,” Popovich said. “He’s kind of slight stature. At the time, he wasn’t that strong. He always looked like he was 17 or 18 years old. You didn’t look at him and say ‘Hey, he’s going to do this.’ But as the years went by and you realized he’s one of the greatest shooters you’ve ever seen, it became apparent that everything record-wise would be available to him.”
Popovich is right. Just about every 3-point record in existence is owned by Curry, or soon will be.
Nobody has made more 3-pointers for one team, or in one season, or in one postseason. He made 30 3s against Minnesota in the 2018-19 season, the most anyone has made against one opponent in a season. He has made 163 against the Clippers, another record for the most all time against an opponent. He already has passed Allen for the most 3s all time, when including playoffs. The only record he hasn’t gotten is most 3s in a game; his best is 13, the record is 14, set by Klay Thompson.
“He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game,” Kerr said. “And he’s the greatest 3-point shooter of all time.”
This is what should scare NBA teams to their core about this Warriors team. Curry is as good as ever, the team is rolling and Thompson is a few weeks away from finally getting back on the court. A good team is going to get that much better. And Curry will be even better when it happens, because defenses know that they can’t leave Thompson alone.
“I just like where we are right now,” Curry said. “We’ve got good vibes around what we’re doing. There’s good energy. We’ve bounced back from tough losses really well. We’re handling our business right now.”
It’s an old cliché that regular fans don’t start watching the NBA until Christmas, and there is a certain amount of truth to that. That said, there have been compelling stories involving big names already this season. Kevin Durant, coming off another Olympic gold medal, is making scoring look easy in Brooklyn. Phoenix, coming off last season’s run to the NBA Finals, won 18 consecutive games before falling to the Warriors. The reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, when their whole roster is together, look title-capable again.
But Curry is must-see TV anytime, even when he’s just taking shots from the stands before games.
And the Warriors probably are going to be worth watching all the way to the end.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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