April 24, 2024


It is no longer accurate to say that Stephen Curry is not respected by his peers or the media or even by random idiots on Twitter. It sure was old. It seems a long time for many people to simply accept, without qualification, all-time status. But there is still some residual ridiculousness around. The latest example comes from former NBA player Mike James.

James, if you don’t recall, recorded 49 career NBA games with the Suns, Pelicans and Nets in the 2017-18 and 2020-21 seasons, though he plays in Europe these days. On a recent episode of the Players Choice podcast, James named his top five players in the league: Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Luka Doncic. You’ll notice that Curry is missing.

That’s not the problem. Reasonable minds can disagree as it pertains to the top five players in a league extremely and deeply talented right now. James’ reasoning for abandoning Curry was so tired and wrong.

“Steph, how he plays and how he goes about things, it’s just kind of one-dimensional sometimes,” James said. “He’s not a very basic ball handler and for a point guard that kind of bothers me.”

“I think those other five can do whatever they want on any team in the world right now,” James added. “I just don’t know about that for Steph. It’s a little blurry for Steph… If you put him in Minnesota, he’d still kill, but I don’t know if it would be the same.”

Here we go again. Steph is only Steph because of the Warriors’ system. It’s so ridiculous it hardly warrants a response, but it’s a quiet weekend in early August and I don’t have much else to write. Even more ridiculous is the one-dimensional tag James tries to put on Curry. The fact that he’s not the primary ball handler, as James points out, is exactly what makes him NOT one-dimensional.

Never, in the history of basketball, has there been a more lethal scorer in terms of ability on and off the ball. Never. It’s not even close. If you want to say Luka Doncic is better than Curry, fine, but don’t back it up with one-dimensionality. Luka ONLY knows how to play with the ball in his hands. Get him to start running around screens and shooting 3-pointers off the catch and see how effective he is.

Curry is a three-level scorer. He is dead at the rim, short and long midrange and obviously from the 3. He can score off the dribble, off the catch, in transition, and yes, in isolation, which will make basketball players fall in love with him until the end of time – – 71 percent of Curry’s buckets in these last NBA Finals were unassisted.

Curry is a world-class ball handler, a magical passer — when he keeps his freewheeling instincts in check — a terrific judge and a plus defender. Yes, I said it. He is a plus defender. although if you want to make “Curry is a product of the Warriors’ system and the players around him” at least do it on the defensive side.

Trying to deny or question or characterize anything Curry does on offense is such a bad look. And I love that Curry noticed. At his annual Curry camp, he was asked how some of his campers would fare against him in a 1-on-1 matchup.

“Oh, it’s all bad for them,” said Curry. “All bad for them, even as one-dimensional as I am.” There was a short beat of silence, and then Kari couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m sorry, I’m petty. I’m so petty! Keep it up, I really like that.”

Again, I like this. It’s playful, yes, but it depicts the endless search for motivation by a guy who has absolutely nothing to prove. Guys like Curry, measured at any point in their lives, no matter how high they eventually rise, never lose the chip on their shoulder. That’s how they stay on top for so long.


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