Steph Curry: The man who changed basketball

The perfect shooting machine in history, without ranges, without limits and without fear – this is just the starting point for its greatness. Steph Curry is much more than that: he redraws the contours of the game, he kills you softly, he is a leader with a captivating smile – and even at the age of 33 he continues to perfect his art and mesmerize the world. And also: the inconceivable numbers behind the phenomenon

During the series “The Last Dance,” which presents the final season of Michael Jordan in Chicago, Steve Kerr was asked: What is special about the Chicago Bulls dynasty? Kerr answers the question: “What is special about our dynasty?” He pauses for a moment, pausing for a few seconds to build a drama, and continues: “What’s special is that we had Michael.”

There are not many people active in the league with Kerr’s resume, with the narrative, the context, the ability to compare, or the depth. He won championships as a player with Jordan’s Chicago and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio, trained under Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. He reached the playoffs five times in a row as a Golden State coach and won three championships with basketball reinventing the game. Offensive, happy, with a ball not left in hand, always in motion. When a lie speaks, one should listen.

During a press conference, after his team defeated Brooklyn away, a game in which Steph Curry recorded 37 career games with nine threes or more (no other player in history has even had ten such games), Kerr was asked by a reporter: “Your offense is back to being one of the best in the league “Why is it so hard to keep you?”

Kerr answered with two words: “Steph Curry,” and laughed a little laugh, his eyes wandering. Going on a deja vu trip for the good memories. A few days later Curry scored 40 points and nine threes in Cleveland.

Think outside the box
Steph Curry has invented a new kind of leadership. Quiet leadership, not fearlessness. Everyone adores and respects him, but no one is afraid to dare and make a mistake because of him. Curry has always urged his teammates to dare, to think outside the box, to err, to be a part of the work of art called team basketball.

Kevin Durant, for example, has never been accepted as a leader at any of his stations. He must carry the team on his back in Brooklyn. Curry is always pushed forward by the rest of the roster players, they have always exhausted their potential next to him. Need absolute control over your ego, and human and athletic maturity to let that happen. Curry told his teammates: Get involved, I’m your insurance policy.

The fun, spectacular, jet-set basketball of Golden State was first and foremost IQ basketball. Focus on where you are best and stay there. Curry may have played instinctive basketball, but that was only on the surface. This is a basketball intellectual who together with the Council of Network Sages (Drymond Green, Andre Iguodala) created the Orange Ball Cathedral.

Precisely the last two years, with bad balance sheets and an injury that limited him to five games in the 2019/20 season, have highlighted Curry’s uniqueness. Without the injured Clay Thompson and without Kevin Durant going to Brooklyn, the rivals threw the entire defense at him as soon as he passed the half. If the fact that he scored 32 points per game (first in the league) can be resolved by being roughly the only option on offense, the fact that he did so in similar percentages throughout his career cannot be ignored.

Curry proved last year that regardless of the conditions facing him, he will find a way to put the ball in the basket. The shooting university he transferred last year occurred after a hand fracture that, as mentioned, disabled him for almost the entire previous season. On the other hand: it was not his punching hand.

What set these two years apart was mostly Curry’s mental side. He was on Olympus and went down to the basement. Duncan always played on a team that was nominated for the championship, Jordan retired after two championship chains, LeBron James became a kind of mercenary for the championship. The only one left in the exhausting mental process of building a team after a championship was Kobe Bryant in the Lakers. What Curry is doing this year, with this roster, with injured key players (Thompson, James Weissman), is nothing short of a magic wand.

There is another difference between Bryant and Curry: Bryant went up to play with murder in his eyes. He wanted to demolish your house, to make you smaller. Curry is an entertainer, an artist. If Bryant was a mamba, Curry is a giraffe.

Basketball before him and basketball after him
Curry’s comeback occurs at age 33, the age when one can sometimes see an initial decline, especially for players with a physique like his, after injury, with a style of play that does not make assumptions and incessant movement, and with chronic ankle problems.

Not only is Curry vying for another slim reign this season (28.4 points per game, second only to Durant with 28.6), but he has increased the shooting rate from three (65 percent of shots, compared to 60-50 percent in his peak years). Each trio only raises the podium on which it stands as the largest slingshot in history. 22 times scored ten threes or more. The next name after him is Thompson, with five. Thompson is a once-in-a-generation slinger. He’s not even close to being the best slinger on his team.

Curry plays an age-old basketball game where mathematicians sit in a room and select players in the draft according to the angle at which their hand releases the ball in the shot. In this age it is clear that the worst shot is a long shot from two points, both because it is the shot with the lowest percentage and also because for a few more inches back you get a bonus point. In this respect Curry is an Intel micro-chip. In his championship years only ten percent of his shots were from that range. Last year it was cut to seven percent. This year – only four percent.

He completely changed the whole geometry of the game, redrawing his lines: there is basketball up to Steph Curry and there is basketball after him. Take each ball in the opponent’s half – Curry made it legitimate for a shot. He paved the way for a new generation of scenes to try without fear, from anywhere. Curry scores 5.4 threes per game this year. It’s psychic. Thirty years ago, entire teams would barely throw 5.4 threes per game.

so what are we doing? Maybe offenses? His career average from penalties is 90.8 percent (first in history). And this year? 94 percent (first in the league). Maybe it’s better to pray. And he records all these numbers when his teammates mention how unselfish he is, and how much his incessant movement frees them up.

Tells a joke and pulls the trigger
Curry’s talent set and lack of ego helped Lecker change the game. From yawning basketball of isolation with the back to the basket, the Warriors played with the face to the basket, cuts, incessant movement of the players and the ball (Golden State leads the league in the few seconds its players touch the ball), pass after pass after pass to best shooting (it leads The league in relation to assists to baskets). This is a mesmerizing basketball genre. Basketball as it should be played. Opponent players realized they were too slow only after the ball fell into the net.

Curry is a basketball entertainer, a player who plays with a smile on his face, who dribbles like a kid on the playground, who reinvented the circus playoffs, one degree of difficulty after another. But make no mistake about it. You are not winning 73 games a season without a killer instinct (this season the Warriors are once again leading the league with a 2:17 balance). He just executes a different breed: tells you a joke and pulls the trigger.

Golden State forced the rival to adapt to it. Build the staff to stop it. In any other team Green would become a frustrated player who specializes in defense. The method at Golden State made it a versatile monster on both sides of the court. Teams started looking for the next Green in the draft, without realizing in depth that there is no Green without Curry. Golden State is like a gig of a giant rock star. Each of his players gets a few minutes to play a solo on his instrument, but everyone knows to whom the show belongs and to whom they owe the glory.

“You don’t have to be a space scientist to be successful in this method,” Green said recently. “The guy takes so much attention that you just have to know where to be and be ready. He made everything a lot easier for me. He taught me to trust instinct.” “There has never been such a combination in the league, ever,” Kerr said of him, “of a player who endangers you with the ball in hand, in pick-and-roll, and in his exit from the blocks to a shot.” Remember players who were double-saved even before they had the ball?

Curry has already visited Philadelphia and Brooklyn this year, two teams that can go all the way to the East, with top MVP nominees – Joel Ambide, Philadelphia’s center, and Kevin Durant, Brooklyn’s point machine. The games ended in a Golden State victory. In the final minutes of both, whenever Curry went to the line or touched the ball, the local crowd honored him with shouts of “MVP, MVP.”

What does it mean when fans in Philadelphia cheer for an opposing player? These are fans who if baseball games were canceled, would travel to the airport and encourage planes to crash. Fans who would throw snowballs at Santa Claus. To encourage an opposing player, they had to be in the twilight zone.

“The basketball we play is basketball that can discourage a team physically and especially mentally, even if we don’t score well in that game,” Curry said after the win in Cleveland. . “No matter how good the defense against us is, we almost always get a good shot, or a free throw, and it’s discouraging defenses, and that despair drags on to the next attack, and the one after that. It’s being on the ropes for the whole fight.”

“It’s really discouraging,” an opposing player testified, “you learned their attack in a video room, you know what’s going to happen and you know you have no way to stop it. That’s the definition of sporting despair. That your nervous system is fried. ”

Anyone who has followed Curry long enough has gone through the process of “unbelievable” to “I’m not surprised.” He knows that once in a lifetime it can happen again tomorrow night. Curry made the unbelievable routine.

You can’t take your eyes off
The cameras in NBA games always show huge bald spots in the stands, especially behind the benches and secretaries. There the miners sit with the money. They are not wasting time on the first three quarters. The game starts at seven-thirty? Excellent, we will have dinner at the restaurant, and for dessert we will see the fourth quarter.

Curry changed that, too. His pre-match warm-up show became the main event of the evening. You can not miss it. It is impossible to detach the eyes from the juggling with two balls that strictly obeyed his instructions, as if tied to him with a leash. It was impossible to take a look at the ritual of the shots from any distance, from any angle, with the soundtrack of a ball that only touches the net.

Curry brought the low basketball news. Many teams before him tried to play “Small Ball”, but none came close to Golden State’s achievements. This happened because Curry was the ultimate weapon for this type of game, for the technological revolution that took place in it. In 2012 the NBA teams threw 18.4 threes per game, in 2017 the average jumped to 27. They all wanted to play like the original, but only one team had the secret code for how to play this basketball.

I have hundreds of hours Curry live and on video: every time he turns around after releasing the shot, his toothpick protrudes from his mouth, his index finger points upwards – the ball is a love gift with the net. Steph Curry is not a prophet of his shots, he has a touch, a one-time emotion between him and the ball, to the shot, to the ring.
1.90 meters over 88 kilograms of nonchalant style. “Because I did not have the dimensions of the others, I had to develop other talents like shooting from anywhere, dribbling with both hands,” he said in a 2017 interview. “Then take everything to the unexpected place, for a ten-yard shot.”

“He dribbles towards you and suddenly the ball is in the air,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You can not look so fast.” Stopwatches measured the time from the moment the ball reaches him until the moment he releases the ball, 0.3 seconds. A tenth of a second faster than the next player on the list. In terms of basketball this is a calendar. In historical terms this means that at a height of 1.90 there are shots that cannot be blocked. He turned basketball on its head.

Despite the family pedigree (Dad Del was an excellent scorer in the ’90s) and despite growing up in a basketball state (North Carolina), Curry received no scholarship from a senior university. He was selected seventh in the 2009 draft, with three coordinators selected ahead of him. Minnesota selected two coordinators in the five and six elections. “We think his shooting is a little better than Curry’s,” the Minnesota scout wrote of Johnny Flynn being selected one place ahead of Curry. Nike gave up on continuing his contract with him in 2013, three years later “Under Armor” sold more Curry shoes than Nike sold LeBron shoes. Anyone who tried to tell Curry that he was not good enough got an overwhelming answer: This league belongs to me. This game is mine.

Jordan’s antithesis
There was no technical player like Curry in the league. “How does he dribble the ball? That’s how we would like to see our dancers move on stage,” said Taras Dumitru, the director of the San Francisco Ballet. “Perfect coordination between hands and feet, and so beautiful to look at in motion.” Curry’s aesthetic reshaped basketball.

“I can not tell you how many times I turned to my assistants during a game and said, ‘Do you believe what we see?'” Kerr said. “And I played with Michael.” Just lying is Jordan’s antithesis: dancing where Jordan flew, laughing where Jordan tried to humiliate with trash-talk. Jordan was obsessed, that is, he is a free soul. Jordan had a plan on how to crush the opponent, ie playing with instinct. There was something powerful about Jordan’s wineries, that is, it was a relief. Jordan’s Basketball was a board of directors at a huge conservative company, Curry’s is a high-tech company on vacation in Hawaii.

Jordan was an impossible-to-emulate model, because this combination of athletic ability, basketball talent and psychopathic desire to win will never return. It’s also hard to see another player coming into the league with the mix of talent, athleticism, strength and speed that LeBron had. Steph Curry is achievable. You can do what he does. Just not.

Measure to Goliath
I’ve been to Golden State several times in the game and practice. Curry went out to warm up for training. Stretched himself, swung one leg in the air in a yoga pose, dribbled a little, then began to throw. The ball to the parquet, again, the creaking of the shoes, the ball leaving the hand. Network. After a few minutes you could close your eyes and think you were at a jazz concert.

The connection between his hand and the ball was similar to the connection between football and Messi’s left foot. I have a hard time remembering another shot whose shooting amounted to several movements performed simultaneously: dribbling, followed by decision, stopping then, the ball goes up and the knees bend for a shot at the same time, throwing hand parallel to the parquet, following perfectly. Rotation, punch hits twice in the chest. Visiting the Golden State Hall was like visiting the Louvre, only that the Louvre da Vinci did not paint live.

Curry always believed in himself, no matter what the others said. Even when it was feared that his father would pay coaches to go up in the top five in high school, even when the giant universities of Duke and North Carolina did not squint at him, even when they chose Ricky Rubio before him. Other than him, no one saw a future in him.

Curry’s biggest trick was no longer a blind dribble between his legs, a deadly cross-over, an unbelievable shot that gets faith in the air. No, Curry’s biggest trick is that no one believed in his future, so he just became immune to defenses. Invented a new math where there are not too many shots for three. Revealed to the world that teamwork is the envy of those. Invented a fat-free basketball. Put LeBron’s isolation basketball in a memoir. Made his favorite team his favorite team. Changed the future. Turned the three into a layup, David into a Goliath.

Until Curry Golden State was not even a suburb in the basketball world, he made it the center of the sports world and every night is a carnival: Curry throws in platonic beauty, delivers with compassionate sweetness, makes the most of the minimal opportunity, invents and discovers the game at the same time. He would include his art like Da Vinci standing in the Louvre and beautifying the Mona Lisa. Like a writer who is in the future and writes about the present.

By Editor

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