Honestly, it’s surreal, Curry said after last week’s loss against the Atlanta Hawks, after which he was the Warriors’ top scorer of all time with 129 points.
The treasurer] has many buckets. He’s obviously a legend and remains so throughout the league, but wearing a Warriors jersey and being here my entire career is crazy. So I have a few more points to show for it ….. hopefully a few more wins in the pipeline…. But it’s just a crazy idea in general.
Knowing where it all started and everything that’s happened in my career… that’s a pretty big step.
Curry is 33 years old and has a special connection to a team and a region that few modern players can match. While Kerry is at the top of the Warriors team, we spoke with three great players from three different eras who all understood the responsibility of being the face of an organization throughout their careers: Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller and Jerry West.
Cumberland’s passing has only confirmed what the organization has known for years.
Look, Miller was talking about Curry. It’s Mr. Guerrier. It’s Mr. Guerrier.
Mavericks-Legendary Dirk Nowitzki now yells at the TV every time Stephen Curry passes mid-court: Shoot the ball! What are you waiting for? I’m on a roll. AP Photo/Ben Margot
Editor’s comment: These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Steph passed Wilt for first place on the Warriors’ all-time leaderboard. How do you think Curry changed the game the most?
Nowitzki (21 seasons in Dallas; top scorer in Mavericks history): So that it’s cool to shoot from anywhere when you’re halfway across the field. He’s the first one to shoot 3-pointers. Everyone gets to the logo easily, but Steph was first, especially with dribbling, and he gets in the middle of the game, the shot clock doesn’t work, and he makes one. At that moment we wondered what this man was doing. He was super consistent about that, and now people clearly copy that and start pulling from the back of his head.
I used to tell those stories when I was watching him during the playoffs and the building was going up and down, he was running half-court and I was yelling at the TV: Shoot the ball! What are you waiting for? I’m on a roll. He’s one of my favorite players. He certainly changed the game from a shooting standpoint.
West (14 seasons in Los Angeles; second leading scorer in Lakers history): I can go back to the first year with the Lakers when the three point line was introduced and how many did they shoot, maybe 200? Maybe not so much. Curry has simply mastered the art of this game through hard work and determination, and I think that’s his strength. If you spend time with him, he’ll work on it. His job is very important to him, and I don’t think he’s going to get old – if players get to the point where they have to stop. I don’t think he’ll get old, because he doesn’t rely on big jumps and power, he relies on finesse, which is a big part of his game.
Miller (18 seasons with Indiana; top scorer for the Pacers): He looks a lot like Wilt, Shaq and Jordan Iverson. You changed everything. They changed the perception and the game.
Steph scored his points much farther from the basket than Wilt. Curry the best shooter of all time?
Müller: That’s it. He is… I always thought Drazen Petrovic – because we played at the same position and I’ve seen him up close – was the best shooter I’ve ever seen up close, but Steph just took the shot to another level.
|Source: ESPN Statistics and Information|
The fact is that most shooters… They’re like twins in Major League Baseball. We are all selfish and think we are the best. So if you ask Larry Bird, if you ask Dirk, if you ask Jerry West, Pia, you ask Craig Hodges, Steve Kerr. In their time, they’ll tell you I’m face to face with Steph. That’s what we are. We’re like lovers. Give me the ball in the ninth and shut up and I’ll get it out. That’s what we are. We all feel like Mariano Rivera.
Nowitzki: There have been great shooters in league history, but he definitely has a quick release, he has a high arc. It has a long range. He can catch and shoot, but he’s also the best dribble shooter – so if he’s not the best, he’s certainly equal to the best. To me, he’s the best; at catch and shoot, we’ve seen some great shooters in our league, but overall I think he should probably be at No. 1.
West: I think at the moment, yes. But we should not forget that he is creating another group of shooters who will try to imitate him. Will they work as hard? Will they be just as creative with their dribbles? Will they be able to finish shots around the basket? People only talk about his ability to string shots together – that in itself is great. But to me, probably the most amazing thing is the way he shoots from everywhere.
Hall of Famer Jerry West is overwhelmed by Stephen Curry’s run with the Warriors: I expect this to continue for the rest of his career. Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
Curry has become synonymous with the Bay Area. What has it meant to you to play your entire career at one franchise?
Müller: It’s the best feeling to see kids who weren’t even born yet [when I played] running through the airport or downtown Indiana wearing your jersey. Because they were not alive to see you play. where they get the information, their parents who were little kids come to see you play and we laughed and cried together. It’s a relationship, that’s what it means to me. Does it hurt that I never won a championship in Indiana? Yes. But I will bring the love of those fans and kids to every championship, because it’s as timeless as the proverbial ring – the relationship I have with those fans. Unbelievable in Indiana.
Nowitzki: Now it is: Dirk who? It’s all about Luke [Doncic]. No, it’s amazing. This of course comes with a certain responsibility, but also a certain pressure. Everyone knows that at the end of the game, you know where the ball is going. It’s fun, it’s challenging, but there’s also a certain amount of pressure. In our place – we were trying to win a championship, and Steph has obviously been there, done that and won some – we wanted to give this town its first championship; they’ve never had a basketball championship here. It was a lot of pressure. And I would say I didn’t handle the pressure well in 2006 and I wasn’t at my best. I always remembered that he always pushed me to help this team and this city. So it’s super fun, it’s an honor to hear people say: Dallas Mavericks, meet Dirk. It’s awesome, super special, but of course it comes with a certain responsibility, a certain pressure.
West: It meant everything to me. But I can’t say I wouldn’t appreciate finding out as a free agent what you’re worth to the franchise, and if it’s the same value you’ve played with for so long. So it’s very peculiar that players nowadays spend their entire careers with a franchise, because if you’re in a small market and you’re a very good player, then today’s agents want to get them to bigger markets so they can market their name and make a lot more money for their player. So if you have a well-run, reputable franchise, in due course players will stay there forever. But it was just great today that [Curry’s] streak is long, and I expect it to last the rest of his career.
Was there a time when you felt you could leave? . Superstar launches imminent?
Müller: No. And if Michael Jordan called me to talk me into coming to Chicago, I’d tell him to go to …. himself! myself! I’ll see you on I-65 or some other highway. I’m coming to you.
I’ve never been anywhere else. Pondering, or other teams sniffing around, like the Knicks maybe. I have a long history with her, don’t I? I couldn’t go. And if there’s one place I want to go, it’s home to play for my hometown Lakers. My mentors were Magic, Byron [Scott] and Michael Cooper. So there weren’t many options, which was good for me. Some are getting six or seven teams today, which is incredible. Personally, I didn’t do it.
|Source: ESPN Statistics and Information|
Nowitzki: The first time I was a free agent, I think, was in 2010, right before we won the championship. I remember being in town and going to see Mark [Kubinets]. Just Mark and I sitting there, and I thought to myself: What are we doing here? He said: We’ll keep working. We had been really close for a few years, so we were both pretty emotional about what we were going through, and it was just a great conversation. And I said: We’re going to try to stay for another four years, and we were lucky enough to win a championship in the first year of the four-year contract I signed, and it was worth it. But that was really the first contract meeting I had.
I didn’t get many offers because everyone knew I loved Dallas and wanted to make it work. I remember Kobe Bryant contacting me once, so of course it was an honor. I think it was after I won the championship and my four-year contract was up. Kobe was still going about his business in Los Angeles. We talked, we texted, but I told him: I’m sorry, and you know how it is. Dallas is my city and my home, and it would be very strange to wear a different uniform. And I think he totally understood that; I think he respected me more after that.
West: Well, there was a time when I really wanted to leave, that’s for sure. Looking back, I remember one time in particular when the owner didn’t like me and tried to sell me something that wasn’t true, which was not only hurtful, but made me more angry than anything else. And that’s why I didn’t want to play for this team, just because of this owner.
And I loved LA. I loved the weather, the fans, you could be very anonymous here in the city because I wasn’t the type to hang out, so I just thought about myself. But I’d probably go. Today you have representatives who protect your rights and also represent you honorably, which was not the case in the past.
Hall of Famer Reggie Miller has never come close to changing teams in his career. Some are getting six or seven teams today, which is incredible. Personally, I didn’t do it. Vincent Laforet/Getty Images
Curry in 12 with the Warriors. Is staying in the same city throughout your career a downward trend in the NBA?
Message: Curry is the second-best individual player in the league behind Miami’s Udonis Haslem.
Nowitzki: For me, I was ready to accept that I wasn’t going to win the title. One of my great idols is Charles Barkley. I thought it was great. That’s why I got a 14th. Place in Europe when he finished 14th at the Barcelona Olympics. And I never looked at him less because he didn’t win a championship. He happened to meet Michael Jordan. Sure, you always think, man, what if? What if I did? But I’m just glad it worked out in Dallas. That’s right. And I didn’t have to think about ever leaving this place.
West: Winning and winning with the expectation of having the same guys every year, that’s something that really appeals to me personally. When you develop a player who has an iconic name or is respected in your franchise [and he leaves], not only do you do a disservice to the franchise, but I think especially to the people and kids who idolize those players. Suddenly they’re gone, and you think: Oh, my God.
Müller: So it’s better for [Nowitzki and West] because not only are they loyal and have a fanbase, but they’ve rewarded this franchise with the ultimate prize that I didn’t get. So this is what hurts me: As much as I wanted to reward Indiana, I failed to win a championship. That’s why we talk about all this – it’s about the jewels, not the devotion.