Stephen Curry broke a couple NBA records Tuesday night and the world shrugged, perhaps because both were his own.
Or maybe because it’s just so . . . common. We’ve come to expect Curry to reach heights never known to anyone, man or woman or robot, who has played professional basketball.
When the Warriors closed their four-game road trip with a win at Minnesota and a 3-1 record against competition that included three teams destined for the playoffs, they had many other reasons for joy during their return flight to Oakland. There was, among other things, the 3-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio, the 45.2-percent shooting from beyond the arc, the four blocks by Draymond Green and the rediscovery of Jonas Jerebko.
Meanwhile, Curry was being Curry, providing more numbers and records to chew on.
He was zooming past a milestone for 3-pointers made in the season, this being his third season with at least 300, an NBA record. The previous record was, of course, Curry’s two seasons.
Curry got to 303 by burning the Timberwolves with 8-of-14 shooting from deep, giving him 46 games with at least eight triples. That, too, is a record that already belonged to him. For what it’s worth, no one else has more than 14 such games.
Curry has drained at least 10 3-pointers in a game 14 times. No. 2 on this list is his teammate, Klay Thompson, with five. JR Smith, most recently with the Cavaliers, has three and likely will retire with that. Nobody else, according to basketball-reference.com, has more than one.
Curry this season has moved up from ninth place to third on the all-time list of 3-pointers made. With 2,432, he needs 129 to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) and move into second place. Miller’s last NBA game came three months before he turned 40.
Health permitting, Steph will fly past Reggie some time next November.
No. 1 on the all-time list is Ray Allen (2,973), whose final NBA game came five weeks before his 39th birthday.
Uh, Curry is 31, meaning it’s conceivable he’ll be 32 when he passes Ray.
Any time an athlete is setting a career record while still in his prime, it’s barely comprehensible. Shooters tend to have longer careers than most, as illustrated by the longevity of Miller and Allen. As silly as it seems, Curry could play another seven years, meaning 5,000 3-pointers is not out of the question.
Curry is stretching the floor like no one ever has. He’s comfortable firing from 40 feet and thinks nothing of pulling up from beyond 30. Allen and Miller almost never did that. Now, however, Portland’s Damian Lillard is following Curry’s lead. And here comes Atlanta’s Trae Young.
Remember Mark Jackson’s words regarding Stephen Curry? The former Warriors coach said Curry “is ruining the game.” Some took it literally, as if Curry and his frequent 3-point shooting were somehow bastardizing basketball. That wasn’t what Jackson meant.
"When Mark Jackson said he was ruining the game, I know a lot of people took that personal," Kevin Durant said in January. "But I kind of got it a little bit, because he's the only person I've ever seen that can shoot those shots in rhythm like that and make them. And now everybody else think they can.
"And you can't.”
Curry is that exceedingly rare individual whose greatness is surpassed by his influence. Unlike the 6-foot-6 Michael Jordan, whose soaring dunks were restricted to the dreams of all but a few athletes, the sight of Curry, at 6-3, jacking up shots from another area code is just tantalizing enough that some think they can get there with enough practice.
Folks knew they could never do what Michael did. Many believe they can do what Steph does.
“And that's why I shake my head, because once in a generation, once in a lifetime type of talent and movement,” Durant said. “(Curry’s) movements out there are just so smooth, it makes it look so easy. So when he's knocking down those shots, it's just a joy to see."
To put Curry’s assault on the record books into context, we have to go to its oldest pages, those containing sports records likely to stand as long as mankind survives. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and 50.4-point average over a full season. Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive baseball games. Cy Young’s 511 pitching wins and 749 complete games. Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases. Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 points. Richard Petty’s 200 NASCAR wins.
Even the true believers, like Don Nelson, who quickly envisioned Curry as a superstar, could not have imagined that each time he steps onto the floor he would represent a threat to a record.
Best not take it for granted. And if you already are, you’re missing a show worthy of savoring.