Stephen Curry: The Lionel Messi of Basketball

Stephen Curry: The Lionel Messi of Basketball

Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:31 pm

Stephen Curry warms up ahead of match against Oklahoma Thunder

Stephen Curry warms up ahead of match against Oklahoma Thunder

Amazing Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors, has been trending all day on Twitter, even in soccer crazy Nigeria. The 2015 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and holder of the NBA record for most consecutive games with a made three-pointer was trending for what he is known for: his three-pointer. And he made one on Saturday night against Oklahoma City Thunder at overtime.

Both Golden State Warriors and City Thunder were all square 118-118 at overtime with a few seconds to go, but Curry would not want the game end this way, shooting an incredible three points from 38 feet. Warriors stole the match 121-118.

As USA Today reported, with that shot and his other 11 deep daggers, Steph broke records. He flew past the NBA single-season record for 3-pointers made. And he tied the record for threes made in a single game. Sure, you can say, “He had extra time, that’s not fair,” but keep in mind he had a hurt ankle.”

(Watch the video of the game on ESPN:

The two teams again will meet on March 3.

Curry: amazing talents

Curry: amazing talents

Just who is this 27 year old guy that has been described as the Lionel Messi of basketball? He was born 14 March, 1988 in Akron Ohio. He is married and has two kids. He is 6feet three inch tall.

We share an article by Oliver Holt, published in The Mail On Sunday today.Oliver Holt on Stephen Curry

“An hour and a half before the game began at the Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday night, the door of the Golden State Warriors’ locker room opened and the best player in the world in the best sports team in the world bounded out.

A couple of hundred people already lined the corridor leading to the basketball court. They yelled and screamed at Steph Curry and begged him for an autograph or a picture as he dashed past.

An elderly woman near the front held a huge sign above her head that said: ‘God Bless You, Steph’. Another wore a T-shirt that read: ‘Keep Calm and Curry On’.

A couple of thousand fans had arrived early just to see Curry warm up. This has been happening regularly over the past few months. People want to be close to genius.

Curry at his game: against Orlando

Curry at his game: against Orlando

Curry bent over in a crouch and began his drills. It was mesmerising. He took a basketball in each hand and dribbled them simultaneously through his legs. Behind his back, through his legs, over and over and over, flawlessly, like a man in a trance, a man in complete control.
Then he started to practise his shooting from the halfway line. This is the part many of the spectators get there early for. Curry, 27, is probably the best three-point shooter the NBA has ever seen. He makes long shots look almost routine. He deals, as one writer put it after the game, in ‘casually delivered impossibility’.

Even this pre-game cameo felt like something special. On the eve of the 2011 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United at Wembley, a hundred or so of us stood watching Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta taking part in the rondo, the training exercise where players pass a ball around a circle while two men in the middle try to intercept their passes. Their control, their touch, their love of the ball, their sheer mastery, were bewitching.
Watching Curry was like that. Watching Curry during a game is like watching Messi. Imagine seeing Messi dump Jerome Boateng on his backside five times a game and then you get an idea of what Curry does on the court. It feels as if he is untouchable. And watching the Warriors this season has been like watching Barcelona. Except better.

They are both beautiful. It is a privilege to see either of them play live, the kind of thing you never forget if you love sport. And, of course, basketball might not be your thing. You might consider it a little predictable. Perhaps you think it vulgar. But perhaps you might change your mind if you watched the Warriors. Claiming them as the world’s best sports team is not purely subjective. They are deep into the NBA’s 82-game regular season and before Saturday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they had won 52 and lost only five of their 57 games. That puts them on course to be the best team in the history of basketball.

That means better than the Chicago Bulls of 1995-96, the fabulous, charismatic Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who finished with a record of 72-10. Some thought that mark would never be beaten but the Warriors are surging towards it and Curry is the game’s new king.

On Thursday night against the Orlando Magic, Curry was breathtaking. He scored 24 points in the third quarter alone with a display of three-point shooting that almost defied belief. In the dying three seconds of that quarter, he administered the coup de grace. The ball bobbled out to him in the half court and he stooped low to gather it, raised himself up and hurled it in a long, graceful arc towards the hoop 44 feet away. The arena fell silent for a second, then the ball swished through the net without touching the rim. This was in Orlando, don’t forget, not in front of the Warriors’ home fans in Oakland, California, but the crowd still exploded with wonder.

Everyone loves Curry

Everyone loves Curry

When Messi scored that goal against Boateng and Bayern Munich last season, the Sky commentator, Martin Tyler, captured the exultation of the moment perfectly. ‘Only football can make you feel like this,’ he said. I thought of that line as I sat in that arena in Orlando, watching Curry. The feeling of euphoria was the same. The shared joy in the beauty of sport was the same.

Curry, who finished the night with 51 points in the Warriors’ 130-114 win, is only part of the story. He is the jewel in a team moulded by coach Steve Kerr, the sixth man in that Bulls dynasty led by Jordan. The Warriors pass the ball with bewildering speed and accuracy and ambition. Again, the comparisons with Barcelona are obvious.

I asked Kerr, a gracious, articulate man in the image of his team, about the similarities with the Catalan magicians.

‘I know they pass the ball and try to control the game with the pass,’ said Kerr. ‘We pride ourselves on moving the ball and sharing it but I am not enough of a soccer aficionado to be able to make that analogy more strongly than that.’

Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty in supremely athletic sports like basketball or brutally physical games like ice hockey, but genius can do it for you.

Only the deep knows the deep: Curry sends a signed jersey to Messi

Only the deep knows the deep: Curry sends a signed jersey to Messi

Wayne Gretzky slowed ice hockey down and seemed to find angles and passes no one else could. Curry, who at 6ft 3in is small and lithe for a basketball player, does the same. He plays in a state of grace. ‘He’s doing things no one has ever done before,’ said Kerr.

The way Curry and the Warriors, the defending NBA champions, are taking basketball by storm is dominating the sports bulletins in the States. Everyone is excited, even the president. ‘Curry’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen,’ said President Obama recently. ‘In terms of being able to get his shot off from anywhere, that fast — the best I’ve ever seen.’

‘There is nothing like this,’ said ESPN’s basketball reporter and analyst Marc Stein. ‘There never has been. Curry is a revolutionary. There has never been a shooter with his range, his ability to shoot off the dribble, who makes it look so easy when he’s so tiny. The team is special because it has the best chemistry. The parts fit together so well. Everyone can make plays but they can all play defence so you don’t have to take skill guys off the floor to stop the other team.’

After the game, Curry sat alone by his stall in the locker room, seizing a few moments of peace. After a while, he pulled out his phone and FaceTimed someone, speaking softly at the screen. He stayed by his stall until most of his team-mates had made for the team bus. Outside, the crowds still waited.

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