Steph Curry’s 2022 NBA title puts him on basketball’s Mount Rushmore
Like Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, it was made up of soft touches of the finest details and, in the end, was magnificent.
Curry’s legacy as one of the sport’s greats has long been cemented, but he’s never been one to stand still.
Despite everything that stacked up against him in Game 4 of the NBA Finals — a foot injury, his struggling teammates, and the kind of pressure we mere mortals can’t even fathom — Curry produced arguably one of the best games of his career (and there are plenty to choose from), torching the Boston Celtics for 43 points and tying the Finals in the process.
Even after a career of multiple titles, multiple Most Valuable Awards, and multiple All-NBA First Teams, the star point guard still shows why he’s a transcendent figure in the sport.
“He wasn’t letting us lose. That’s all that matters. I could tell in his demeanor,” Curry’s longtime Warriors teammate Draymond Green said after the Game 4 win.
On Thursday, the Warriors clinched the 2022 NBA title with a win over the Celtics in Game 6 of the Finals, securing Curry another ring and his legacy as an all-time great.
The title is his fourth in eight seasons, but is arguably the 34-year-old’s most impressive and – with his first Finals MVP award – cementing his legacy as one of the top 10 players in football history. the league among an esteemed company.
“But to have the opportunity to go for a fourth (championship) and achieve that goal as well, God is great,” Curry said of the Bill Russell Trophy. “I’m just glad I got to do it.”
Change the game
Since joining the league in 2009, Curry has almost single-handedly changed the way basketball is played. Teams are now increasingly prioritizing their three-point shooting, while future NBA players come into the draft with a well-trained long-range shot.
But for Curry, the master of the trade, he showed against the Celtics – the league’s No. 2 defense – why he’s still the paragon of the fluid three-point offense that the Warriors and head coach Steve Kerr have become so known for.
Unlike other heliocentric offenses — Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, for example — Curry doesn’t have the ball in his hands with every possession, but make no mistake, the Dubs’ offense works thanks to Curry.
He is the Sun in the Warriors’ solar system attack. His teammates are circling around his offensive threat, opening up spaces even though he may not even have the ball and yet even with all the defenses laid against him such is his threat, Curry still finds ways to score .
Although his NBA record of 233 games with at least one three-point shot ended in Game 5, his mere presence on the court is enough to terrify defenders.
Not content with remaining in a position on the floor, Curry can often be spotted sprinting without the ball attempting to move to a spot where he can get a shot. And that move, and Green’s precise passing, not only brought huge success for the Warriors, it transformed the league.
For the core Warriors – Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and head coach Steve Kerr – this is their fourth title and, arguably, their most impressive.
“I don’t want to write that”
November 19, 2020 brought the news that Warriors fans didn’t want to hear.
It would be the second straight season the star keeper has been out, having torn his left ACL in game six of the 2019 final.
In the two seasons he missed, the Warriors went 54-83, including missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Between injuries to Curry and Green and the passing of time, it looked like the the unthinkable could happen: the Dynasty Warriors could come to an abrupt halt.
However, like the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs teams Kerr played for, the Warriors have rebuilt themselves.
Through shrewd trades and shrewd draft picks, the previously bare-bones core was suddenly surrounded by a bunch of talented and skilled energetic players.
With the return of Thompson and the accession of some youngsters, like Jordan Poole, the team made an unlikely return to the finals, leaving in its wake a cast of All-Stars.
But, without the offensive magnetism provided by Curry, it might never have happened.
For someone who has transformed the NBA so completely, the past two months have been a clinic for Curry.
He averaged over 27 points and about five rebounds and six assists while consistently being at the center of the league’s strongest defenses.
And while he is certainly one of the greatest players in the league, given the uniqueness and success of his style of play, this 2021-22 season has been the icing on his future Hall of Fame career. .
Although still a long way off the league record for championship rings – Bill Russell has a remarkable 11 from the legendary Boston Celtics team of the 1950s and 1960s – he has now equaled luminaries such as LeBron James, Shaquille O ‘Neal and Robert Parish on four tracks.
The dispute over who is in the top 10 NBA players of all time has been going on for years and will continue for many more.
But, such was his impact in the playoffs and the season as a whole, Curry should be placed among those elite names.
Despite an illustrious career before this season, with three league titles and two league MVP awards to his name, this year’s triumph could be his crown jewel.
Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas says Curry’s Finals MVP “helps” his legacy.
“As Cedric Maxwell (from Boston) told me the other night, he says, ‘There are 32 NBA Finals (MVP). I’m one of them,'” Thomas told ESPN.
“I’m one of them too. In the end, it matters. It helps. Steph’s legacy is already cemented, in terms of what he did for the game, how he improved the game and what he did to make all the kids want to play the game (like he does). He moved the game forward.”
Curry joined esteemed company with his Thursday night transport. Prior to Game 6, only five players had four rings, multiple league MVP awards, and a Finals MVP: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Tim Duncan.
Now there are six players with Curry.
Jordan and James are, by consensus, the two best players in NBA history. But could Curry be No. 3? Is Curry the best playmaker in the league?
These aren’t crazy suggestions to make – and these are conversations that will start to happen.