Changing the game

 Changing the game

It was, perhaps, only fitting that Stephen Curry set the record for career three-point shots made in The Mecca of Basketball. And as he celebrated the 2,974th trey he has made since he joined the Warriors in 2009, the overflow crowd of 19,812 at the Madison Square Garden — typically jaded and too preoccupied with other interests to be bothered with watching proceedings on the court — celebrated with him. Fans rightly cheered for the leading Most Valuable Player candidate’s accomplishment, never mind that it helped seal the Knicks’ fourth straight loss and seventh setback in the last eight outings.

Needless to say, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made sure Curry had more than enough time to bask in the feat. He promptly called time out, and the festivities intensified. Erstwhile record holder Ray Allen was even in the building, and made sure to acknowledge the milestone with a hug and a hearty smile. To be fair, it wasn’t a changing of the guard; the ascent to the throne of the greatest shooter in pro hoops history was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east. Rather, it was an appreciation of the singular skill of the 6’2″, 185-pound guard who lasted all the way to seventh in the 2009 draft.

Indeed, Curry didn’t exactly hit the ground running in the land of the giants. He did start 77 of 80 games in the Warriors’ 2009-10 campaign, but he took just 14 shots in 36 minutes per outing. Injury practically wiped out his third season, but, amid speculation that he had putty for ankles, he wound up flourishing when Kerr assumed the mantle in 2014. Three championships and two MVP awards later, he is again taking the National Basketball Association by storm.

That the Warriors are pacing the league despite vital cog Klay Thompson’s continued absence speaks volumes about Curry’s status as first among equals. And, certainly, part of his universal appeal stems not just from his everyman persona, but from his comfort and comfortability in his own skin. He doesn’t act like an Alpha Male; at the height of his powers, he welcomed fellow MVP Kevin Durant with open arms, even going so far as to defer to the new addition to the roster. Which, in a nutshell, is why all and sundry happily doffed their hats to him, and why he doffed his hat to all those who helped him reach the summit.

As outstanding as Curry is at getting his own shot, he was right to give longtime teammates Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Thompson engraved Rolexes for their assists (literally); of his made threes, 479, 168, and 129, respectively, came off dimes from the three. Durant is third on the list with 153; little wonder, then, that the 11-time All-Star couldn’t resist tweeting “Send the Rollie” in response. Bottom line, though, he deserves the spotlight — for changing the game while being, well, himself. Enough said.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.