Steph Curry Is The Best Shooter in NBA History. He Didn’t Do It Alone.
On Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, NBA fans witnessed a monumental piece of basketball history. Steph Curry hit his 2,974th career 3-pointer, surpassing Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen for the most of all time. Curry, who has spent the last decade-plus torching rims from deep and cementing his legacy as an all-time great, swished the record-breaking deep ball over Knicks guard Alec Burks with 7 minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
More than 20,000 people stopped to give Curry a standing ovation following his momentous shot. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gave the game ball to his star player, who then gave it to his father, Dell. With tears in his eyes, Curry acknowledged the New York crowd and slumped into a seat on the Golden State bench, relieved. By game’s end, Curry had converted 2,977 career threes—a figure that will only keep growing as he continues to let it fly for years to come.
“I’ve been thinking about this number for a long time,” Curry admitted during his postgame interview with NBA on TNT. “...In basketball history, this is pretty special. [Ray Allen and Reggie Miller]—I watched them growing up and understood what it meant to shoot the ball because of them and my dad. Full-circle moment, man.”
Following his interview, Curry was greeted by Allen and Miller, whose all-time 3-point record was broken by Allen in 2011. They each gifted Curry a jersey from their playing days as well as a special jersey with “2,974” under Curry’s name in place of his usual “30.”
No fan or scout alike watching Curry in college could have imagined a night like Tuesday. He had an extraordinary three-year career at Davidson, averaging 25.3 points and 2.1 steals per game and hitting 41.2 percent of his 3-point attempts. But people still feared that Curry’s game wouldn’t translate against NBA defenses.
“He probably is never going to end up being a star in the league because of a lack of explosiveness (meaning he will be a huge defensive liability),” Bleacher Report said ahead of the 2009 draft. “He should be able to hang around the league because of the all-around offensive package he brings to the table.”
Curry remained criminally underrated come draft night. Most notably, the Minnesota Timberwolves passed on him in favor of Jonny Flynn, who started just nine NBA games following his rookie season.
Injuries were a serious concern in the early years of Curry’s professional career—so much so that the Warriors were criticized for inking him to a four-year, $44 million extension prior to the 2012-13 season. He was spraining his ankles at an ungodly rate and needed multiple surgeries to rebuild ligaments and clean out scar tissue. But a new training program introduced to Curry in 2013 changed everything. He began lifting, stretching, doing yoga—exercises that vastly improved his core strength and translated to stronger ankles.
The physiological foundation had been laid for a long, successful career. But there’s an even bigger reason for Curry’s record-shattering greatness. And his name is Steve Kerr.
Kerr was hired as Golden State’s head coach before the 2014-15 season, succeeding Mark Jackson. It was a match made in heaven on paper—Kerr, who sports the best career 3-point percentage (45.4) in NBA history, would draw up plays for Curry, who had already displayed prolific shooting ability from deep in his first four years as a pro.
Somehow, the on-court results turned out even better. In Kerr’s first year as coach, Curry made his first All-Star appearance, averaging 24.0 points and 8.5 assists per game—both career-highs. Curry has since earned two Most Valuable Player awards, won three NBA championships, and been named an All-Star seven times.
In Kerr’s system, both Curry and Klay Thompson were encouraged to shoot to their hearts’ content, giving the duo’s name “Splash Brothers” a whole new meaning. Curry was able to use his unique creativity and innate feel for the game to his advantage, manning a unit that was top-five in the league in pace, possessions, and offensive rating from 2015 to 2018. Kerr's designs have unlocked Curry's fullest potential in a way that few other coaches could.
Curry’s individual accomplishments have ensured that he’ll be remembered by all as one of the best to ever shoot a basketball. But the people around him have made him the best. In no small part due to critics, trainers, and coaches, Curry’s name and legacy will live in NBA immortality.