March 8, 2016

DENSON | Steph Curry is Leading the Revolution

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אהבה לעולם לא נכשלת- Love Never Fails. The sacred Hebrew text is inked on Steph Curry’s shooting arm, featured prominently on his wrist. “But where there are prophecies,” the biblical word continues, “they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
If we love the NBA, love the sport itself and love the competition it gives us then we will be at ease with the beauty and unconventionality of Curry’s game; at ease with how he has changed the sport — for better or worse. The days of the reigning big man are over. Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon watch in disbelief, cringing at how the best NBA team relies on low-percentage shooting instead of aggressive in the paint play. A shrimp in comparison, the 6-foot-3 Steph Curry has already broken the single season record for most 3-point field goals, while his team has already clinched a playoff birth with a month left in the season.

And nearly 50 years later, the rogue experiment of the American Basketball Association has been realized … in the NBA. Using the 3-point shot as a competitive marketing strategy, the ABA relied on unorthodox style and flair to attract fans away from the established, yet mundane, NBA. Catering to the cavalier attitude of the start-up ABA, the 3-point line was an opportunity for teams to space the floor and allow more drives to the hoop. Eventually the ABA folded, giving us teams like the Spurs, Nets and the Nuggets.

The Warriors style of play is becoming endemic. So much so that the outspoken, impulsive Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested moving the 3-point line back. Chalk this up to Cuban overreacting to Steph Curry’s exceptional talent. The game is evolving, growing into something beautiful, less physical and more finesse based. It’s the era of small ball — let it be, Mark Cuban. Focus on Shark Tank and leave NBA policy to the real analysts. Also consider trying to help your Mavs be contenders again.

Part of me misses the domination of big men from my childhood. The pure strength and fury of Shaq was remarkable. Does anyone else remember him breaking the backboard, the glass shattering into thousands of little pieces as the hopes of any opponent breaks with it?

Is it a good thing that the game has become less physical? It depends on whom you ask, but critics will, again, be silenced as soon as Golden State wins its second championship in two years. As much as I love Charles Barkley, his theories on how the small ball game can’t win championships was proven false. Now the only proven thing is that the Warriors’ style works — it’s working in the NBA, has potential to give the Warriors immortality by (hopefully) setting the single season wins record and showing an entire generation that the little man can be the best on the floor.

As more and more casual fans become diehards from watching Curry effortlessly put up shot after shot from 10 feet away beyond the 3-point arc, we are reminded of how this isn’t the way it used to be. What happened to post-up buckets?

The NBA has entered a new era, with Steph Curry as the messiah leading the cause. As his wrist reads, love never fails — we will continue to love the game. Critics will criticize the small ball game, and those critics will be proven wrong. The debate will live on. NBA legends will attack Curry, argue his game and analyze the results — but in the meantime he’ll be setting records and winning championships with ease.