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NBA Finals - Basketball: Where does Curry stand amongst the greats?

19 June 2022 09:30:49 EST
Steph Cuirry continues to climb the list of all-time greats

There are debates that take place in bars and workplaces throughout the world whenever sports fans get together, with everyone having their opinion on where particular players sit on the scale of the best performers of all time.

From time to time, a current star's exploits are compared to the historical greats and discussions are led on where they fit in the whole scheme of things.

One sportsman who became the subject of such debate recently was Steph Curry, the basketball star who has just claimed his fourth NBA finals success with the Golden State Warriors.

He scored 34 points in their 103-90 Game Six victory over the Boston Celtics and earned the title of the most valuable player in the finals for the first time.

So the question on plenty of lips is how do his efforts compare to the greats who went before him.

Titles a factor

Basketball is such a statistic-heavy sport that there are plenty of indices that can be used to say that the former Davidson Wildcat can be considered one of the greatest to have ever stepped on the court, while others would indicate that the point guard may still have some way to go.

While four NBA rings is impressive and would put him alongside players such as LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal in terms of finals success, there are a host of players who can also claim to have as many, including his Warriors teammates Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson.

Bill Russell, who played for the Boston Celtics, holds the record with 11 titles in a 13-year career and, at the age of 34, it would take a similar amount of dominance for Curry to get anywhere near that tally.

The late Kobe Bryant won five titles and claimed back-to-back finals MVP awards, so if he could emulate the achievements of the Black Mamba that would be something that would promote Curry into the real greats of the game.

Chicago Bulls stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the stars of the popular The Last Dance TV documentary series, won six titles apiece and the legendary Kareen Abdul-Jabber also claimed half a dozen, so Curry would arguably need a couple more titles to be mentioned alongside those sorts of names.

Point average could be better

His average of 24.29 points per game puts him joint 17th in the NBA all-time list, interestingly alongside another player whose name gets mentioned in these discussions, former Boston Celtic Larry Bird, who won three NBA titles in the 1980s.

Jordan leads the way with 30.1 and there are four current NBA stars - James, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, the much-travelled James Harden and Curry’s Warrior teammate Kevin Durant who are higher on the list.

However, there are other things to consider with commentators often making the bold statement that Curry has changed the way the game is played.

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Not all about stats

Curry's shooting ability has been hailed as second to none and while he may be behind some of his peers in bare statistics, particularly in those when he may be relying on the rest of the team for success, some of his play has been described as ground-breaking - and that will surely be his legacy.

No player in the history of the game can touch his tally of 3,117 successful three-point attempts and it is his ability from 'downtown' that makes him such a standout performer.

Before him, shooting from outside the arc was considered something of a novelty, but that is no longer the case and now every young player wants to be shooting like Curry.

However, that doesn't make it any less difficult, with his coach Steve Kerr hailing the quality of his hand-eye co-ordination as the best that he has ever seen, no small statement from a man who claimed five NBA rings as a player himself, including as part of that legendary Bulls line-up alongside Jordan.

Beyond the arc is his domain

Curry has been successful with 42.8 per cent of his three-point attempts while he is also the greatest free-thrower in the sport's history, with a career success rate of 90.8 per cent. Statistics like that should at least make fans take notice.

When he helped the Warriors to their first NBA Finals' win in 2015, it was the first they had enjoyed for 40 years and he was then an integral part of the Golden State line-up the following year, which saw the greatest regular season in the game's history when they lost just nine of their 82 matches.

Despite their phenomenal season, the Dubs were beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers over seven matches in the finals that year. Had they won, maybe Curry would already be pushed further up the list of basketball's all-time greats.

Regardless, he has undoubtedly made his mark on the sport, and there is still scope for yet more success to come, particularly with the Warriors installed as the 7.00 favourites to win next season.

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