“What are they gonna say now?”
Those were the words Steph Curry belted out during the Golden State Warriors’ championship celebration after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6. The biggest knock on Steph’s career was the missing Finals MVP on his resume so at this point, what more do you want Steph Curry to accomplish in his career? He’s hit nearly every major award and has reached the pinnacle of basketball success. He’s a four-time NBA champion, two-time league MVP, and now has knocked the final missing accolade off his checklist, a Finals MVP. He’ll undoubtedly go down as the greatest shooter to ever live.
Whether you believe Steph played the Robin role to Kevin Durant in two of his championships doesn’t matter. Whether you believe it was Andre Iguodala who pushed the Warriors to their first title since 1975 in 2015 doesn’t matter. Steph Curry was without a doubt the best player on at least two championship teams and his performance in the 2022 NBA Finals officially stamped him into the top-tier of all time greats.
Look at his resume. The list of players with a league MVP and four championships include LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, and Shaq. All those names are consistently in the conversation for the top 10 spots on the greatest ever list if they aren’t all surefire locks. In addition to his resume, you can’t overlook his impact on the game of basketball in itself. I mean excluding MJ himself, you can make an argument that nobody else has changed or impacted the game of basketball like Steph Curry has. Because of Steph and the Warriors, the value and importance of the 3-pointer grew. In a recent interview on First Take, Shaq echoed the sentiment that Steph Curry is a top 10 player of all time.
“Steph Curry is already in my company,” Shaq said. “He’s a top 10 all-time player.”
The Warriors play style and system all stemmed from the greatness of Steph Curry. In a year where Klay Thompson was trying to find himself again and Draymond Green was not performing like the player we saw on past championship teams, it was Steph who put the franchise on his back down 2-1 in the NBA Finals. Without Steph’s 43-point performance, we’re likely talking about the Boston Celtics being NBA champions at the moment. While Klay, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole stepped up in big moments throughout the series, Steph was shouldering most of the load and quite frankly, ended all talks of his Finals woes with that individual performance.
As for who Steph might leapfrog, there are some names that might trigger NBA fans. On our initial all-time rankings list, we had Steph Curry at No. 12 behind Kevin Durant. It’s fair to say a fourth title puts Steph above KD in terms of resume and accomplishments. While some may argue that talent-wise and longevity-wise Durant is still above Curry, it’s hard to debate actual resumes especially when Steph has won two titles as the main option without Durant. Curry has received some slander for having NBA Finals blunders in the past but even in 2015 when Iguodala won Finals MVP, Steph still averaged 26 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Those aren’t supporting role numbers; he was the main engine behind the title. Some might say Steph got robbed for MVP in those Finals. Bill Russell might be another candidate for Steph to leapfrog. While you can’t fully discredit all the titles he’s won, 11 in total, Russell did play in a completely different era. An era that definitively doesn’t have the amount of talent the game has today just by the evolution of basketball. You can’t knock Russell for being alive in the era he’s in especially when he’s without a doubt one of the greatest winners and defenders the game has ever seen but you do have to add context behind his success. He was also a big man who shot less than 45 percent from the field the majority of his career. But Russell’s demotion wouldn’t be due to his performance but more so that Steph needs to be elevated after winning another ring.
And you can put the defensive liability argument to rest. He’s not Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or prime LeBron on the defensive end but while he lacks the physical tools to be a great defender, his IQ for the game will allow him to compete on that end. We saw big plays defensively from Steph all series whether it was stripping Jaylen Brown driving to the rim or reading an entry pass on defense for a steal, he wasn’t the negative NBA fans like Skip Bayless tend to claim he is . I mean with a so-called defensive liability on the floor, the Warriors defense was stifling all year so there’s that.
Love him or hate him you can’t deny Steph’s greatness. We are blessed as NBA fans to be witnessing what Steph Curry and LeBron James have done this era so instead of finding ways to diminish their legacies, just appreciate them for what they’ve accomplished.