Stephen Curry made jump shot an art form


Steph Curry is the most exciting, entertaining and compelling athlete I have ever seen.

Steph Curry is more fun to watch than Tom Brady, Barry Bonds, Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and the athlete who was the all-time attraction of all time, Magic Johnson.

Steph Curry catches the eye like the Mona Lisa catches the eye, like a space shuttle launch catches the eye, like the Grand Canyon catches the eye.

Steph Curry will amaze you to a yawning silence because you can’t say anything but it would belittle the moment. It’s the same reaction everyone has when they hear Andrea Bocelli sing for the first time.

There, I made my point? Or should I include the water walking part?

The last time a player had this effect on professional basketball was Julius Erving, not Michael Jordan. Erving showed everyone what over-the-rim basketball looked like. Erving brought out the child in all of us that all of us land mammals at one time or another have had these dreams of flying, hovering over oceans and mountains. Jordan just stayed up there longer, with a flare.

So when a five-year-old fan heard “Erving just flew to town,” that five-year-old, for a moment, really believed him. This is the magic that Erving brought to the game. Julius brought magic to the NBA before there was Magic.

This is what Curry is doing now. While Erving made his impact over the rim, Curry extends what we never thought was stretch – the jump shot.

See a jump shot, you’ve seen them all. To the right? Some are prettier than others. Some give the impression that the guy is throwing a shot put, others a hand grenade. Some find the three-dot line an aphrodisiac, a siren call that cannot be ignored, embarrassing as the result is, a clunker.

Curry turned the jump shot into an art form. Its web extends, it seems, to the parking lot. If he is thrown from 23 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet, the form is still the same and of course that doesn’t make sense. Longer shots require more effort. To the right? Not with this guy.

Curry attracts advocates like chocolate attracts ants. They are there at least to irritate him. It doesn’t bother him. The guy takes that as a compliment. His facial expression does not change.

Curry shoots so fast, so precise, it takes a replay to confirm that the ball was once in his hands. Pickpockets are studying it for technical improvements. After all, wallets are less bulky to handle than basketballs.

Curry is a pinball machine. There are people who follow Curry and ignore the rest of the Warriors. Curry runs and hides and shoots and dives and stops and starts. He has to run. It is small in size. He cannot surpass a Schnauzer. And yet it thrives among the great woods.

Curry doesn’t put his hands on his knees to catch his breath. He does not ask for a blow. He trained during a time out to lower his heart rate to 80 beats in 90 seconds. Curry and a Sherpa – which one reaches the top of Everest first?

Put it all together – The Shot, The Stamina, The Sprint, The Harassing – and Curry doesn’t give you any free time. It has no competition in this regard.

Bonds had four batting appearances per game. Some of them were just appearances on the plates. He walked more often than a mannequin.

Montana and Brady both had a killer instinct. They could find a hole in any defense. They weren’t as much quarterbacks as they were detectives, seeing things that other people couldn’t or didn’t want. But Joe and Tom have never played in defense.

Rice could catch rainbows, outrun an Olympic sprinter, and find an opening in the high school that required a magnifying glass. But Jerry never played in defense, either.

Jordan did remarkable acrobatics on the ground and in the air. He was the best to ever play the game. As a competitor he had no equal. But Michael tweaked what Julius first revealed.

Johnson was Showtime. He drew a crowd and made it his own. His personality and playing matches the headlining role but, instead of being 6ft 9in with that wingspan, what if Johnson was 6ft 3in and not physically structured to withstand blows. What if almost everyone he had played against was bigger, stronger, faster? What if?

On paper, Curry has a lot going against him. He cannot defeat his opponents. He can’t fly supersonic. He doesn’t have a shot like Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook. In theory, Curry has what almost every NBA player has, a jump shot. He’s quick and quick, but he’s not Russell Westbrook.

But Curry doesn’t wait for the game to come to him. He comes there. He’s a superstar but he finds a way to be part of the team. No one has ever accused him of being a thug. He is calm with his foot pushing hard against the accelerator pedal. Her instincts find solace in a single heartbeat – the time it takes to let go of a sweater.

Curry shouldn’t shoot a 40-footer with the same amount of effort it takes to put your hands up in class. Curry shouldn’t be circling around without apparent intention, until he inexplicably stops and shoots, finding that burst of light invisible to everyone except himself.

A sport is a movement. It’s the one thing all sports have in common. And no one moves me like Steph Curry.

To comment, write to [email protected]

About Bernice D. Brewer

Check Also

Imagined Worlds | CMUnow

Assistant professor and filmmaker draws inspiration from the outdoors in his unique, award-winning stop motion …