Gravity of breaking Allen's record is not lost on Steph originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO – Aware of the legends left in his wake, Stephen Curry is not ready to discuss the emotional significance of the crown that awaits. The subject is heavy, and deep, and engaging means revisiting too many pitfalls, setbacks and pieces of fractured hope.
Surviving all of that, and laboring against the wind of a few scattered but persistent detractors, Curry, in his 13th season, is 16 shots away from officially becoming the most prolific long-distance shooter in the 75-year history of the NBA. King of the 3-point shot.
What will it mean to have that title on the record of the skinny teenager who, even as the first-born of an accomplished NBA player, was ignored by college recruiters?
“Umm ... I’ll talk about it when it happens,” he said at the podium Monday. “You’re gonna make me cry up here, bruh. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.”
Curry says he wants to feel it naturally when the moment comes, whether it’s Wednesday night in San Francisco or Saturday night in Philadelphia or sometime next week in Indianapolis, New York, Boston or Toronto.
His career is a montage of thin-air highs with a few gut-punch lows. Three NBA championships. Two MVP awards, including the only unanimous winner in league history. Records for most 3-pointers in a season, most in playoffs history, most in NBA Finals history, most made in a single month and most games with at least 10 triples. He has the highest scoring average of any player to finish a season with the hallowed 50-40-90 shooting percentages.
Each of these records matter and have a special place in Curry’s heart. He endured the slights and the multiple early-career ankle injuries, recovering fully to achieve certification as one of the best to bounce a basketball.
The next record, however, that truly warms his soul, in no small part because Curry so admires the man who holds it.
“Ray, that’s my guy,” Curry told me last week.
That would be Ray Allen, who finished his career in 2014 with 2,973 3-pointers. He succeeded Reggie Miller as the king of triples. Both are in the Hall of Fame. But Ray is a former teammate of Stephen’s dad, Dell, and has been a family friend for about 20 years.
For it was Ray who would put up post-practice shots with Dell when both were members of the Milwaukee Bucks and when Stephen was a wide-eyed, slack-jawed spectator taking notes.
“He used to show up to the arena three hours early, getting shots up when there was nobody in there,” Curry recalled. “He had a very specific routine that he stuck to. I learned a lot from that. I got to see him in Milwaukee when I was 10 years old and would do shootarounds with him and my dad. My brother (Seth) was out there. The coach (George Karl) would let us be a part of drills.
“I always got inspired by shooting the ball at a high level,” Curry added. “When you see those guys, my dad and Ray Allen, shooting it right in front of you, it’s a pretty cool sight. I tried to hold my own, too.”
Shooters tend to have a bond built on common skills, game recognizing game. But there is a warmth between Stephen and Ray, who these days confine their competition to the golf course.
Maybe that’s why Allen is so ready to graciously step aside for Curry.
“This is not about me,” Allen said. “This is about Steph and the amazing career he’s had. The things he’s done. How he’s started. What he comes from.
“It seems so apropos that his dad is Dell Curry. For me, Dell was the best shooter that I’d ever seen. Having to play against him as a young player, and not knowing how to guard him because he could shoot the ball -- I thought ‘He wouldn’t dare shoot that.’ And he did, most of the time.”
Twenty years later, Dell’s eldest son practically has a patent on the “he wouldn’t dare shoot that” shot. Stephen is comfortable shooting from 30 feet, 40 feet, beyond the half-court stripe. It’s a part of his comprehensive scoring repertoire.
Curry, 33, is the foremost hoops revolutionary of his time, and perhaps any time. His gift for shooting and his gunslinging mentality, have taken the game to uncharted areas. At the start of Curry’s career, in 2009, the 3-point shot was a useful novelty. He has made it a staple of offenses at every level, regardless of gender.
“But Steph, on the personal level, just lifted the bar much higher in terms of what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was, obviously, the most capable player to do that, with his skill set and the fact that he could do it off the dribble or off the catch. So much of it was his mindset, too. I’ve never seen a guy so confident and lacking any sort of discretion when it comes to shooting the ball. And I say that in a good way.
“He changed the outlook for a lot of players, and now guys are firing away from everywhere. But he’s obviously the best at it.”
Kerr has the proper credentials to address the subject. When he retired in 2003, his 45.4 percent shooting from deep was the best career 3-point shooting percentage in NBA history. Still is.
That’s a record that might be safe from Stephen, who currently is third on the active list and seventh on the all-time list at 43.2 percent.
Kerr, however, did not reach legendary status. Though he played in 910 games over 15 seasons, he made only 30 starts. He was a specialist, a designated shooter, so to speak.
Curry is a complete player who has a place among the 75 players on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team announced in October. Allen and Miller are on that team, as are Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and the late Kobe Bryant.
So, excuse Curry if he gets misty at the thought of reaching an elevation none of those legends ever did.