The tax Steph Curry pays for his special kind of greatness
There are eight players who have won at least three NBA titles and two MVPs. The list reads like the absolute who’s who in league history: Kareem. Russell. MJ. Magic. Bird. Duncan. LeBron.
Even tangential fans don’t need their full names. You shouldn’t for the last one on that list, either: Steph.
At age 30, in his 10th season, Stephen Curry is basking in the prime of his career. If he wins a fourth title or a third MVP — and both appear possible this season — the list narrows even further. If he does both … we’re talking about the rarest of the rare.
“I hate to break it to you, but he’s already an all-time great,” two-time MVP Steve Nash said. “He’s the ultimate one-off. He’s the evolution of basketball. It evolved before our eyes.”
Whenever someone draws boxes around accomplishments — the arbitrary numbers of titles and MVPs — narratives can be created. Come up with a different metric, and the list can change.
That’s not the intention here. Place aside the trophy case for the moment; the point is that Curry has already arrived. He has been a first-ballot Hall of Famer for a while. He’s making a run at Mount Rushmore.
Curry is immensely popular, especially among young fans, but he doesn’t enjoy the respect someone of his stature should demand. There have been many examples, but to take one, there was the pushback to him being the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2016.
Changed with Curry holding the brush
Gary Payton said it was disrespectful to greats such as Michael Jordan. Tracy McGrady, my esteemed colleague at ESPN, said it was evidence that the league was watered down. LeBron James endorsed Curry’s victory that season but then questioned the meaning of the term “valuable.” There are plenty more where that came from.
“There’s layers to his place in the Zeitgeist,” Nash said. “People don’t associate him to greatness because he doesn’t dominate the game physically. He dances, pays a tax for that, pays a tax for his great teammates.”
Curry’s place in history has two vital pillars, one of which is undeniable and one of which is wrapped in gray. He’s generally recognized as the game’s greatest shooter, and his brilliance has found a way to change the shape of the floor. Some of the fundamentals of the game have changed with Curry holding the brush.
“[Wilt] Chamberlain, Kareem and the great big men like Russell changed the game from the inside. He’s changed the game from the outside,” said Jack McCallum, longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author of the book “Golden Days.”
“He’s a walking piece of history. But there’s still a certain resistance to him.”
“His willingness to sacrifice for KD is one of the great stories in history.”
It wasn’t just that he went to the Hamptons to offer Kevin Durant a front-row seat on the Warriors’ roller-coaster ride into a dynasty. It’s that he has more than kept his word, yielding and bending to make room. That act and the ability to continue to excel while doing so are every bit as important to Curry’s status as all those 30-footers. In some ways, that’s just as historic.
“His willingness to sacrifice for KD is one of the great stories in history,” six-time champion Scottie Pippen said. “If you have a mind for the game, you know that it takes sacrifice to be great. All the greats have to sacrifice something. Otherwise you can’t win.
“At the point when the ball hit Jordan’s hands, it was to go and score. He won scoring the ball. For me, that implied I didn’t get the chance to shoot to such an extent. In any case, I don’t believe that thumped my significance back. For Steph, he’s surrendered a seat for KD. Be that as it may, it doesn’t make him any less incredible. He ought to be taken a gander at as one of the best watches the amusement has ever observed.”
Curry has been hit for not having any Finals MVPs. He has been hit for not being an extraordinary protector been hit for playing with a grin.
“He plays with happiness, he prepares with satisfaction, yet he has extraordinary aggressiveness,” Nash said. ” an intellectual.”
He’s a considerable measure of things. One of them is an unequaled incredible, and he ought to be viewed thusly. Not when he resigns. Presently.