In an era of basketball where everything seems to be debatable, there is something comforting about Steph Curry.
While so many other NBA superstars seemed burdened by the pressure created by the conversations around them, the Warriors’ guard seems above that fray — unaffected by it all.
So it’s only fitting that the greatest shooter in the history of the game now stands alone atop the list of NBA’s all-time 3-pointers made.
Curry’s shot is the truth. It’s beyond reproach. We’ve known that since his early days as a Warrior — there’s something different, special about No. 30.
And while Tuesday’s record-setting 3-pointer is merely a novel checkpoint in his incredible, game-changing, franchise-saving Hall of Fame career, it’s nice to know that something that we have known to be true — Curry is the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the game — can be verified not only by our eyes but by the record book, too.
Curry tied Ray Allen’s record of 2,973 with a definitive Curry shot. No. 30 brought the ball off the floor, worked off a high screen from Draymond Green — who else but the man who had assisted him on 478 3-pointers before then? — and rose, fired and knocked down a shot from 30 feet away.
That’s a place that mere mortals once never dared to shoot.
But Curry made that shot a commonplace part of his game — a byproduct of necessity (Curry was often the smallest player on the floor) and hard-earned confidence of a perfect stroke, refined after countless hours in the gym away from games.
A good number of his thousands of 3-pointers have come from that 30-foot distance. Over the last few years, more and more players have dared to try the same shot.
None of them has come close to making it look as easy as Curry does.
Between tying the record and setting a new one, Curry created. He dribbled through, around and past Knicks players, taking the attention coming his way to create easy shots for his teammates. He was diving on the floor for a loose ball on defense mere possessions beforehand. What’s another floor burn if the Warriors win the game?
And then, with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter, he set the record.
It was set, so fittingly, after Curry set a screen for a teammate under the basket.
Curry has been called the anti-superstar by his coaches and teammates, but he couldn’t help but feel himself for a moment after he hit the record-setting shot.
He pounded his chest, flexed, yelled and then was able to take in raucous applause from the crowd at Madison Square Garden. Say what you will about the building in Midtown, but outside of San Francisco (or, in a dream world, Oracle Arena in Oakland), MSG is a fitting venue. They do big events well, and this was a massive moment in the history of the league.
On prior iterations, this record was unknown, unimportant. You wouldn’t stop a nationally televised game when someone set a new all-time record for blocks, right?
But the unquestioned value of Tuesday’s game speaks to Curry the man and Curry the athlete.
No one in their right mind cannot root for the man whose game is predicated on joy and challenging norms.
And those norms that he challenged have broken away to create a game where Curry’s impact is felt every night.
The sport of basketball is undeniably in a better place for his efforts. How many great players can truly say that’s part of their legacy?
Curry will continue to add to his number of made 3-pointers for years to come. The only question now is, “How high can he go?”
At 33 years old, Curry is arguably playing his best basketball in this, his 13th season in the league. He’s also shooting more 3-pointers than ever before — a byproduct of a game that has changed because of Curry’s singular abilities.
He’s the only player in NBA history to make more than 400 3-pointers in a season, but he might do that again this year.
What’s to say that’s not his new normal, at least for as long as he’s at his peak?
And what’s to say that his peak can’t continue longer than anyone ever expected? After all, no one expected this from Curry.
Why not 5,000?
The question will persist, in the background, until his career is formally over. That will be a sad day for basketball.
Tuesday, however, was a joyous day. One that deserved to be in the foreground. One that will resonate for decades.