August 9, 2022

The greatest shooter of all time. It’s what everyone has been calling Golden State’s Stephen Curry for years, for obvious reasons. No one in basketball history has made more 3-pointers or made the art of throwing a ball through a hoop easier than Curry.

He deserved this distinction.

And it still looks like it was undersold.

The thing is, Wardell Stephen Curry II isn’t just the greatest shooter of all time. It’s time to finally call him what he is – one of the greatest players of all time. Go ahead, put it in the Greatest Of All Time conversation. It’s a debate that will never end anyway, and it’s earned the right to be there for one simple reason.

He changed the game. The 3-pointer is vital now, and Curry made it so.

“I think he’s pretty much established what he can do,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after the NBA Finals ended Thursday night with Golden State as the champion and Curry as the Finals MVP. . “But to see him win that, he’s one of the greatest of all time and we all followed his lead and gosh, that was awesome. What a streak.”

Yeah, what streak Curry had.

And what a player too.

Curry’s place in the Basketball Hall of Fame was locked long before Thursday night, when he scored 34 points and the Warriors won their fourth title in eight years by beating the Boston Celtics 103-90. What this one meant, however, was clear. Curry was crying tears of joy before the game ended, unable to hold back his emotions any longer.

“I’m happy for everyone, but I’m happy for Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said as champagne sprayed in the champions’ locker room in Boston after Golden State’s decisive win. “For me, this is his crowning achievement in what has already been an incredible career.”

It was his moment of glory. For now, anyway.

There’s no reason to believe there can’t be a fifth ring for this Warriors era either, as long as a healthy curry leads the way.

“The greatest point guard of all time,” Golden State’s Andre Iguodala said.

Also add it to the list. And his legend on the court only grows. Curry, 34, is stronger than ever, tougher than ever and, in a way, more driven than ever. He has already had three rings this year, has the record 3 points, more money than he could spend in 10 lifetimes and there is not a corner of the world where he is not known or revered. His wife Ayesha is a world class cook. He birdied at Augusta National.

Curry, by all accounts, had nothing left to prove.

Apparently he disagreed. When last season ended in a loss in the qualifying tournament, Curry immediately got back to work, with that title on his mind, knowing that few so-called pundits believed the Warriors had a chance to expand. their dynasty. They had three titles and five trips to the Finals in five years from 2015 to 2019, then injuries and roster changes sent them to the bottom of the NBA in 2020 and outside of the playoff picture year. last.

Forgot everything now. Curry rules again.

”Damn, we did it. It’s crazy to think about,” Curry said. ”All that talk paid off. Manifest your destiny in some way, and that stubbornness – who we are matters more than anyone says about us – is why we’re here.’

His resume is ridiculous: Curry is an eight-time All-Star, two-time NBA MVP, one of them unanimous, a two-time scoring champion, All-Star Game MVP, is now a four-time champion – and, finally, an NBA Finals MVP, also by unanimous decree.

Not bad for a player who went No. 7 in his draft class, got kicked out of his first college practice at Davidson for showing up late, been plagued with worries about a lot of things during his early NBA years — he was too small, his ankles were too bad — and it took five seasons just to make his first All-Star Game.

“I thank God every day that I get to play this game at the highest level with amazing people,” Curry said on the ground as the celebration began, tears streaming down his face, the game ball cradled beneath one of his arms. . ”That’s what it’s about.”

Very few people saw it coming 13 years ago.

On the night Curry was drafted in 2009, after six players who have a total of zero NBA championships had their names called before him, the Warriors made no effort to hide their excitement.

That said, it wasn’t exactly effusive praise either.

“He’s a guy who’s going to fit in really well,” said then-Warriors general manager Larry Riley.

Probably safe to say Riley was right. Underrated, of course, but fair.

Now there are more.

The fourth parade is Monday. The fourth ring arrives this fall. Respect should be there forever now. It’s not just a great shooter anymore. It’s official: Stephen Curry is a player of all time.

“For Steph to win Finals MVP, and I know he said it didn’t matter…but to add that to your resume as a competitor, you want it,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green. ”For him, well deserved. It’s been brewing for a long time. But he left no doubt. Left no doubt. He carried us. And we are here as champions.”

Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org

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