Steph Curry’s 2022 NBA title puts him on basketball mountain Mt. Rushmore

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Steph Curry's 2022 NBA title puts him on basketball mountain Mt. Rushmore

Like Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, it was composed of smooth strokes of the finest detail and was beautiful in the end.

Curry’s legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats has long been cemented, but he was never one to get caught at a standstill.

Despite everything that went against him in Game 4 of the NBA Finals — a foot injury, problems facing his teammates, and the kind of pressure we mere mortals can’t even understand — Curry arguably produced one of the best games of his career (and there are many at selection), setting the Boston Celtics on fire for 43 points while leveling the Finals.

Even after a career that has included multiple titles, multiple Most Valuable Awards, and multiple All-NBA First Teams, the star point guard still shows why he’s a standout figure in the sport.

“He didn’t let us lose. That’s all it comes down to. I could see it in his demeanor,” said Curry’s longtime Warriors teammate Draymond Green after the Game 4 win.

On Thursday, the Warriors clinched the 2022 NBA title with a win over the Celtics in Game 6 of the Finals, securing another ring for Curry and his legacy as an all-time great.

The title is his fourth in eight seasons but arguably the 34-year-old’s most impressive, and – with his first Finals MVP award – he’s cementing his legacy as one of the top 10 players in league history at a respected organization.

“What will you say now?” Curry told Marc Spears about Andscape after the game. “(You) hear all the talk about you as a player and us as a team, nobody outside of the Bay Area thought we were going to be here last October when the season started. Me as a player, obviously that Finals MVP stuff and all that he knew (we were) good enough to win three championships before.

“But to have the opportunity to fight for fourth place (championship) and get there, God is great,” Curry said of the Bill Russell Trophy. “I’m just glad I got to do it.”

Curry breaks down in tears after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

change the game

Since joining the league in 2009, Curry has almost single-handedly changed the way basketball is played. Teams are now increasingly prioritizing their three-point shooting as budding NBA players come into the draft with well-formed long-range shots.

But for Curry, the master of the craft, against the Celtics – No. 2 in the league – he showed why he’s still the epitome of the fluid three-point offense that the Warriors and head coach Steve Kerr have become famous for.

Unlike other heliocentric offenses — Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, for example — Curry doesn’t have the ball on every possession, but make no mistake, the Dubs’ offense only works because of Curry.

He is the sun in the offensive of the warrior solar system. His teammates revolve around his offensive threat, opening spaces when he may not even have the ball, and yet despite all the defenses aimed his threat, Curry still finds opportunities to score.

Green hugs Curry before Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2022 Western Conference Finals.

Though his NBA-record streak of 233 games ended with at least a three-pointer in Game 5, his mere presence on the court is enough to terrify defenders.

Not content to stay in one position on the ground, Curry can often be seen sprinting around without the ball attempting to shift to a spot where he can take a shot. And that motion and Green’s precise pass not only led to great success for the Warriors, but also changed the league.

For the core Warriors — Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and head coach Steve Kerr — it’s their fourth title and arguably their most impressive.

Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Curry pose for a photo after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

“I don’t want to write this”

November 19, 2020 brought the news Warriors fans didn’t want to hear.

Thompson, the second half of the successful “Splash Brothers”, had torn his Achilles tendon, ending his 2020/21 season. “I don’t want to write this. My soul is in Brooklyn taking a nap before the game,” Thompson wrote on his Instagram.

It would be the second straight season that the star shooting guard would be absent after tearing his left cruciate ligament in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals.

In the two seasons he missed, the Warriors went 54-83, including missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Between Curry and Green’s injuries and the passage of time, it looked like the unthinkable was about to happen: the Warrior’s dynasty could come to a screeching halt.

However, like the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs teams Kerr played for, the Warriors were rebuilding.

Through some clever transactions and shrewd draft picks, the previously bare-looking core was suddenly surrounded by a bunch of talented and experienced energetic players.

With the return of Thompson and the addition of some youngsters like Jordan Poole, the team has made an unlikely return to the finals, leaving behind a cast of all-stars.

But if it weren’t for the offensive magnetism Curry exudes, it might never have happened.

Curry shoots the ball in Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Celtics.

heritage

For someone who has so profoundly changed the NBA, the past two months have been a curry clinic.

He averaged over 27 points and about five rebounds and six assists while consistently being the focus of the league’s strongest defense.

And while he’s certainly one of the greatest players in the league given the uniqueness and success of his style of play, this 2021-22 season was the icing on the cake of his future Hall of Fame career.

Though he’s still a long way off the league record for championship rings — Bill Russell has a remarkable 11 from the legendary Boston Celtics team of the 1950s and 1960s — he’s now tied with luminaries like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and co. Robert Parish in four titles .

The argument over who ranks among the top 10 NBA players of all time has been going on for years and will continue for many more years to come.

But such was his impact in the playoffs and throughout the season that Curry should be one of those elite names.

“The expansion of Mount Rushmore… is the only conversation that should be circulating about Stephen Wardell Curry. Sincerely, Dwyane Wade,” the three-time NBA champion on the Miami Heat wrote on Instagram.
San Antonio Spurs All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray also praised Curry after Thursday’s win. “We’ll never see anything like curry again. Appreciate its AMAZING, why can we!!! #Top10EVER”, he wrote on twitter.

Despite a glittering career leading up to this season, with three league titles and two league MVP awards, this year’s triumph could be his crowning glory.

Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas said Curry’s Finals MVP “helps” his legacy.

“As (Boston’s) Cedric Maxwell said to me the other night, he says, ‘There are 32 NBA Finals (MVPs). I’m one of them,'” Thomas told ESPN.

“I’m one of them too. In the end it matters. It helps. Steph’s legacy is already solid in terms of what he’s done for the game, how he’s improved the game and all the kids he’s made want that Playing the game (as he does). He pushed the game forward.”

Curry receives the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award after defeating the Celtics in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

Curry joined a respected company with his Thursday night transport. Prior to Game 6, only five players had four rings, multiple league MVP awards, and a Finals MVP: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Tim Duncan.

Now there are six players with curry.

Jordan and James are unanimously considered the two best players in NBA history. But could Curry be number 3? Is Curry the best point guard of all time?

It’s not crazy suggestions to make – and it’s conversations to start having.

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