Warriors

Trae Young's goal of eclipsing Steph Curry is admirable, but not easy

Warriors

Twenty-four years ago, Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson found himself at the top of the key against arguably the best player ever, Michael Jordan.

Seconds earlier, Jordan's coach, Phil Jackson, instructed the Chicago Bulls star to matchup against the 21-year old.

Jordan, a historically renowned defender, was more than up for the task. Still, Iverson was unbothered as he stared in Jordan's eyes. After two quick crossover dribbles the young star drained a jumper in Jordan's face.

Growing up in Hampton, Va., Iverson idolized Jordan. But on the court, he had a drive that prompted a famous line rap line from Drake.

"You make friends with Mike, But got to A.I. him for your survival"

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"A year,” Young said. “That’s just me being, I work too hard.”

While Young's current game suggests his words don't have much merit, his mindset is appropriate for a game that's historically rewarded those who dreamed bigger than their current circumstance.

Young's ambitions seem far fetched at the moment. Through his first two years in the NBA, he's shooting just 42 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range. In 11 seasons, Curry has shot below 42 percent in a season just once -- the current season -- now on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic -- where he was limited to five games due to a broken hand. For his career, he's shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

 

Young's connection with Curry is longstanding. During his lone collegiate season at Oklahoma, the 21-year old patterned his game after Curry, shooting from all over the floor. During the 2018 playoffs, Young came to a couple of games at Oracle Arena as Curry's Warriors strived towards their third title in four years. But the declaration is more in line wiyh Iverson's mindset in 1996.

The mindset isn't uncommon. Months prior to Iverson's crossover, his draft classmate Kobe Bryant had sights on eclipsing Jordan as the best player of all time. He imitated the Bulls guard at every turn, mastering his fadeaway, dunks and mannerisms. Early in Bryant's career, Jackson, who coached both players, arranged for a meeting between the Lakers guard and his idol following a game at Staples Center. Upon arrival, Bryant's first words, according to Jackson, were "you know I can beat you one on one."

Though Bryant would finish with more career points and play more seasons than Jordan, he's wild considered below the guard's status. Nonetheless, he gained the Hall of Famer's respect.

[RELATED: Steph's heart, compassion on display amid coronavirus pause]

But Jordan's respect wouldn't have come if Bryant didn't have the drive to test the greatest to ever do it. Greatness comes when the one striving for it has the guts to test their limits, harness their greatness and put it on the line against established stars.

That's why Young's declaration is admirable. Curry is his idol, making the Splash Brother the first player he wants to knock off in his quest for personal greatness.

Now, he has to back up his words.