NEW YORK – What has long been acknowledged is now authenticated. Stephen Curry walked into Madison Square Garden on Tuesday afternoon chasing an impressive piece of history and walked out five hours later holding it in the palms of his hands.
Most prolific shooter in the 75-year existence of the NBA.
Curry is in full blossom, from the skinny teenager to the seven-time NBA All-Star. From an entrance to the NBA that was greeted with skepticism to becoming the first and only unanimous NBA MVP winner. From the early-career injuries that led some to write him off, to the throne on which he sits alone.
With more than 20,000 witnesses filling the center of the basketball universe and rising each time the Warriors took possession, anticipating a 3-point attempt by Curry, he needed less than five minutes to grant their wish.
With 10:56 remaining in the first quarter, Curry drained a 3-ball to move into a tie with all-time leader Ray Allen. A little more than three minutes later, with 7:33 left in the quarter, Curry rose above defender Alec Burks to splash the record-breaker, No. 2,974.
Upon seeing the ball go through the net, Curry raised both arms to the sky. He beat his chest. Let out a prolonged yell.
Five seconds later, came the natural response: Timeout Steph.
He hugged his mother, Sonya. Hugged his teammates. Shared an embrace with his father, Dell, before passing the magical ball to him. And when Allen, seven years into retirement, walked onto the floor, Curry darted over to him for yet another embrace, which was followed by a poignant moment with nine-year teammate Draymond Green.
All while the discerning Garden crowd, temporarily ignoring the hometown Knicks, stood savoring the moment, roaring, applauding and high-fiving for nearly five minutes.
With that shot, Curry was king of 3-point shooters. He had soared past Allen. Also in attendance was TNT game analyst Reggie Miller, whose record was surpassed by Allen in 2011. Three legends, one still very active.
Curry’s path, however, is one more element that separates him from Allen and Miller, both of whom are in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
Allen was slender, but his 6-foot-5 frame was all sinew – and he was athletic enough to sprint into the paint and dunk over men six inches taller. Subjected to heavy recruitment out of high school, he ultimately chose UConn over Kentucky.
Miller was downright skinny, like Curry, but he entered the NBA after being the top freshman recruited to UCLA in 1983. He came with a picturesque jump shot, but his 6-foot-7 height allowed him to tower over most defenders.
Curry’s journey was altogether more challenging. None of the powerhouse programs came knocking during his time at Charlotte Christian High School; not even Virginia Tech, where his father had excelled, offered a scholarship. He wound up at Davidson College, a small private school a short drive away from home.
Look at Steph now, broad across the shoulders, arms thickened with definition, accomplishing in his prime a feat that had NBA players and coaches abuzz.
This is for all the youngsters told they were too small, too skinny, too delicate to succeed, much less become a star.
It’s for those – in any walk of life – with lofty aspirations only to run into repeated rejection while hearing that they cannot and never would.
“It’s definitely a story that rings true to a lot of people who aren’t huge basketball fans,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr had said 90 minutes before tipoff. “Steph appeals to everyone, not just the hardcore fans who are looking at his 3-point percentage. Fans are attracted to him just because of his humility and his story and how hard he’s had to work.
“From that standpoint, it transcends sports somewhat. It’s a great testament to someone who is gifted but who has earned everything through work, beyond the gifts he was given.”
This is more than a seismic sports achievement. This was a moment for the men and women who can’t help rooting for an extraordinary figure behind an ordinary veneer.
For the second time in his storied career, Steph Curry took temporary ownership New York. Does it get any better than that?