Throughout the playoffs, media pundits were running out of ways to describe how great Stephen Curry is because what else can you say about someone who’s described as the greatest shooter in the history of basketball, and a generational talent who changed the game.
But there was one thing missing from his resume; a Finals MVP. Many have argued that Curry should have been the Finals MVP in 2015 in the series vs the Cleveland Cavaliers but voters decided to give it to Andre Iguodala.
Now full disclosure I think it was ridiculous that the media decided to knock Steph for not winning a Finals MVP because his legacy wouldn’t have changed if he won one or didn’t but now that he has one, a lot of questions have surfaced over the legacy of Steph Curry.
Specifically is Steph Curry a top-ten player of all time? and to answer this question, let’s look at the agreed upon top ten players of all-time and see if Steph should surpass those guys.
This ESPN article from a couple of years ago has this top ten list and these are the players that were selected.
9. Kobe Bryant
8. Tim Duncan
7. Larry Bird
6. Wilt Chamberlin
5. Magic Johnson
4. Bill Russell
3. Kareem Abdul- Jabbar
2. Lebron James
1. Michael Jordan
So right off the bat Steph isn’t better than the top five so that leaves him in that 6-10 range so lets go through those guys real quick.
First off, I think Hakeem Olajuwon should be in Wilt’s spot because he won back-to-back titles with the Rockets and back-to-back Finals MVP during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 championship years with the Rockets. Since he’s not, Wilt put up video game numbers against inferior competition, only Bill Russell challenged him and Wilt lost to Russell each time they matched up in the Finals. So an argument could be made that Steph is better than Wilt all-time
Next is Larry Bird. Larry Bird won three titles with the Boston Celtics and three straight MVP’s. Larry Bird was a killer on the basketball court. Players would share stories of Larry Bird telling them the exactly what he was going to do and then executing it to perfection. Bird was that dude and no argument should be made that Steph is better than Larry Legend.
Next is Tim Duncan. Duncan is a five-time champion and three-time Finals MVP. The Big Fundamental’s game wasn’t flashy but it got the job done. Duncan slowed down later his career, starting in 2012-13 Duncan averaged 17.8 PPG, in 2013-14 it went down to 15.1 PPG, and 13.9 in 2014-15, and all the way down to 8.6 in 2015-16. An argument could be made that Steph could knock Tim Duncan off the top ten mantle.
Next is Kobe Bryant. Again full disclosure Kobe Bryant should be a top-five player of all-time on this list. Kobe was painted as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan and he was the closest thing to MJ that the NBA will ever see. Kobe ripped your team’s guts out on the basketball court and there is no player in the modern-NBA has come close to being like Kobe on the court. No argument here Kobe is better than Steph.
Last is Shaq. The most physically dominant center to ever play in the NBA. There was no team on earth who had an answer for Shaq, he took over games with his sheer power, and playing bully-ball. Shaq is a four-time champion and three-time Finals MVP. Shaq in his later career, slowed down due to injuries, and the game started to shift to attempt more threes. So with that Shaq wouldn’t be good in today’s game because he wasn’t a good defender outside the paint, and centers would have to develop a three-point shot or at least a 15-footer. Shaq didn’t have that in his package. Here I think Steph knocks Shaq outside of the top ten because while Shaq was dominant he was a poor foul shooter and even in his prime he would miss time due to not coming into some of those seasons in the best shape.
Stephen Curry is a top-ten player off all-time, he’s accomplished a lot in his prime, including becoming a 4x champion, a 2x MVP, and now a Finals MVP. Steph’s legacy is fully cemented and maybe someday he’ll crack to the top five.