It’s tough for anyone to wrap their head around the seemingly impossible suddenly becoming the opposite. Don’t believe us? Just ask Oscar Robertson about the never-before-seen dominance of Steph Curry.
The Hall of Fame guard appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” Thursday morning, and offered a simple explanation behind the consistently mind-boggling performance of basketball’s brightest star. Here’s Robertson, helpfully transcribed by Sports Illustrated.
“[Curry] has shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today. In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread…there have been some great shooters in the past…but here again, when I played…if you shot outside and hit it, the next time I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don’t do that. These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”
Victor Oladipo indirectly took The Big O’s advice and pressured Curry well beyond the arc early in the Golden State Warriors’ win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Just two of Curry’s 51 points and 20 made field goals on the night.
There’s just no answer for the reigning MVP right now. Curry’s biggest threat, obviously, is as a three-point shooter from 30 feet and in. But he’s a smart enough cutter, strong enough finisher, and creative enough passer to easily exploit teams that choose to body him from the time he crosses half court. That Golden State is rife with playmakers and shooters of rare ilk at every position only further leverages his incredibly unique all-court gifts.
It’s an unstoppable combination, no matter what proud old-timers like Robertson and all those slow to warm to Curry’s preeminence say.
Steve Kerr understands that better than anyone. After watching Curry drop another half dollar and change, the Warriors’ coach had the perfect retort to Robertson’s claim that players from the past would contain his team’s best player better than ones from the present.
“Oh I’m sure, yeah,” Kerr told Fox Sports’ Sam Gardner. “I could have stopped this back in my time. Boy, I would have shut Steph down. Because athletes, you know, 50 years ago were much bigger, stronger and faster, more finely tuned. So Steph might not have made it in the league.”
Kerr’s quip notwithstanding, it really is tough to blame Robertson for his hollow assessment.
The basketball world has never seen anything like Curry. He’s redefining how the game is played on a nightly basis. In time, perhaps there will be an effective defensive strategy to mitigate the influence of a player like this. But it doesn’t exist at the moment, and certainly didn’t during the 1960s.
Like today’s coaches aren’t at fault for failing to contain Curry, then, Robertson isn’t for thinking players of his day might have been able to, either.