16 C
New York
Monday, May 29, 2023

Buy now

Warriors oust Kings: Stephen Curry drops first 50-ball in Game 7 history as GOAT case continues to grow

The Golden State Warriors have eliminated the Sacramento Kings and advanced to the second round of the playoffs courtesy of the greatest individual scoring performance in Game 7 history. Stephen Curry put up 50 points on Sunday. Fifty. In what could’ve been the final day of a dynasty. 

Prior to Curry, the most points anyone had ever put up in a Game 7 was the 48 that Kevin Durant hung the Nets‘ 2021 loss to Milwaukee (the famous foot game in which Durant was the toe of his shoe away from a game-winning 3-pointer, only to lose in overtime). 

Now, to go any further in this story without honoring Kevon Looney would be a crime. Looney’s 21 boards,  10 of which were offensive, were only short of Curry’s 50-ball on the heroic meter. He is now just the sixth player in history to record multiple playoff games of at least 10 offensive and 10 defensive rebounds. The Warriors better have somebody working on this man’s statue as we speak. 

But back to Curry. You hear about these “refuse to lose” psycho athletes, but you cannot refuse to lose. It isn’t humanly possible, to whatever extent that Curry is, actually, human. What you can do is refuse to go out on anyone’s terms but your own. 

If Curry was going to go down on Sunday, which looked like a strong possibility through the first half of this game, he was going to go down with the pedal pegged to the floor. Dude put up 38 shots. Made 20 of them against a bloody-fast Sacramento defense that was chasing him, and has been chasing him all series, like a three-strike fugitive. 

Curry hit seven 3-pointers, Simple math tells you he made 13 shots inside the arc, which, incidentally, goes down as the most 2-pointers he’s ever made in a playoff game. Indeed, Curry had to pull out all the tricks in this one. The step-back 3s. The midrange pull-ups. The fancy finishes, including one falling-down finger roll that would be laughed out of most HORSE games. 

The final score of this game, 120-100, suggests a lopsided affair. It wasn’t. Sacramento led at halftime, and their points, as they did for much of these series, were coming easier, typically an indication of a team that’s going to pull out a small-margin matchup. 

Klay Thompson couldn’t hit a thing. He, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins finished a combined 12 for 44. Golden State missed 11 free throws. Other than Looney’s hardhat heroism, there was nothing about this game that suggested the Warriors could win besides Curry. Turns out, he’s pretty much all you need. 

And you got the sense that Curry knew it pretty early on. The tight turnaround after a dog Game 6. The team was tired. Curry, himself, seemed exhausted at points. Steve Kerr was trying to buy him a minute wherever he could to rest. And again, this can’t be overstated: Nobody else had anything going. It isn’t Curry’s way to jack up 38 shots. He was still efficient, but that goes against his and the Kerr’s long-held preferences. 

There was just not other way. This was a performance of necessity, and with it, Curry continues to climb the all-time-player pantheon. And no, this isn’t a prisoner-of-the-moment take. For Curry, these huge, rise-to-the-occasion showings are stacking up. The 43 in Game 4 against Boston in last year’s Finals. The 47 he hung on the box-and-one Raptors in Game 3 of the 2019 Finals when the Warriors were running out a JV squad alongside him. The second-half 33 against Houston with no Kevin Durant. The game-seven 36 vs. OKC in 2016; the NBA record 17 overtime points vs. Portland one round before that. 

You could go on and on with these games. All the way back to when it started against the Nuggets in 2013, when George Karl told me how crazy it was to watch Curry become a superstar right in front of his eyes, or the 44 he dropped on San Antonio in Game 1 after the Denver upset. His playoff numbers are appreciably better than Kobe Bryant’s, for crying out loud. 

Four championships. Two MVPs, including the only unanimous one in history. Finals MVP (for all you bozos out there who thought the absence of this hardware before last year was a reasonable knock against Curry). All-time 3-point leader. Signature moments and games stacking up year after year. 

Ultimately, where Curry, or anyone else for that matter, ranks all-time is a matter of opinion. But it’s getting to the point where you simply can’t have a responsible top-five conversation without including Curry. And if you have a top-five case, with as many good years as Curry presumably has left to play, then barring injury, you’re going to have a GOAT case when it’s all said and done. 

For my money, there is no other player that I’ve personally ever seen that impacts a game the same way as Curry. That doesn’t mean he impacts games in as many ways as, say, a player like LeBron. But total impact. Curry, at his peak, which is still in progress, is in a league of his own. By that standard alone, he has to have at least an arguable GOAT case. 

And I’m not talking about the GOAT point guard. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith went that route after Game 6, but I see no need to positionally qualify the claim. If Curry’s worthy of honest debate for the greatest point guard ever with Magic Johnson, then he’s worthy of honest debate for the greatest player, period, because that’s where Magic rightfully resides in the conversation. Heck, Steve Kerr played with Michael Jordan, and this is not the first time he has put the two in the same sentence. 

“He doesn’t surprise me,” Kerr said of Curry. “We all take him for granted because he’s brilliant night after night, and we’ve been watching this for 10 years. You just have to remind yourself every once in a while, big picture, this is one of the great players in the history of the game. But that’s how I felt back in my playing days with Michael Jordan. You’d see it night after night so you just took it for granted. That’s how it is with Steph: It’s over and over and over again, and the resilience and the work that goes into that and the focus is incredible to watch.”

I know a lot of people will scoff at the idea of Curry rising to the Rushmore ranks. But again, I’m just saying “in the conversation.” Because that’s all anyone can say. There are no definitive rankings here, to state the obvious. Once you’ve earned conversation status, then let the people duke it out on Twitter. Bill Simmons can write another book. 

Bottom line, Curry’s merits are starting to speaking for themselves, and he’s not even close to done. He is playing as great as he ever have with no signs of slowing down. What if he gets his fifth title, equaling the likes of Magic and Kobe Bryant and topping Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, whom he now has the chance to eliminate from the playoffs for the fourth time?

There’s still a long way to go for Curry to put another ring on his finger, but it’s certainly within reach. At this point, in these playoffs, anyone can win. If Curry does it, there are going to be some tough conversations to have about where a guy that has never fit the traditional ideals of an all-time player actually ranks as an all-time player. Because it might be getting pretty close to the top. Close enough, at least, to have an honest conversation. 

Source link

Related Articles

‘Little Mermaid’ makeup artist calls Ursula criticism ‘ridiculous’ and ‘offensive’

The makeup artist for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” has responded to criticism surrounding the movie’s depiction of Ursula.The nefarious sea...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -rec300

Latest Articles

‘Little Mermaid’ makeup artist calls Ursula criticism ‘ridiculous’ and ‘offensive’

The makeup artist for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” has responded to criticism surrounding the movie’s depiction of Ursula.The nefarious sea...

Edward James Olmos reveals he had throat cancer: ‘An experience that changed me’

Edward James Olmos recently revealed on a podcast that he is cancer free after the disease “attacked” his throat.On Friday’s episode of “Mando...