Stephen Curry once wanted to be a Knick and one suspects that, given his history in the building, there's pretty much nowhere else he'd rather break the all-time record for 3-pointers than MSG
The story, so crushingly for Knicks fans, hasn’t been embellished at all.
Stephen Curry and those in his camp definitely did want Madison Square Garden to become Curry’s permanent NBA address entering the 2009 NBA Draft.
“Very true, very true, very true,” Dell Curry said Monday night, when we spoke before Stephen Curry’s father called the Charlotte-at-Dallas game in his role as a Hornets broadcaster.
The Knicks had the eighth pick in the 2009 Draft. Golden State held No. 7. Dell Curry, who logged 16 seasons as the NBA’s first of three sharpshooting Currys, fielded a draft-day phone call from the Warriors’ then-coach Don Nelson.
“I said, ‘No, we’d rather you not take him if he’s there because we have another place we’d like him to be,’ ” Dell Curry recounted in our Monday conversation. “He said, ‘Well, if he’s there we’re going to take him,’ and I said: ‘That’s your choice. You call me and ask me a question and I’m telling you the truth from my end.’ “
With an assist from David Kahn and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who selected Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with the Nos. 5 and 6 picks after Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden and Tyreke Evans went off the board, Curry indeed made it to the Warriors at No. 7. Nelson and then-Warriors general manager Larry Riley — who will be in attendance later Tuesday at Golden State’s invitation — defied Dell Curry, agent Jeff Austin and everyone else who was lobbying the Warriors to let Steph make it to the Knicks’ turn at No. 8.
“Thank God it didn’t happen,” Dell Curry said.
That sentiment was not meant as a slam against the Knicks as much as it was an expression of gratitude for the way things have turned out. Nelson granted Stephen Curry only two minutes and 35 seconds of court time in his first visit to Gotham as a pro, and persistent ankle woes limited him to just 26 games in his third season, but it is a story of fairy-tale proportions in Year 13. At this stage of his career, as the league’s foremost singular entertainer, Curry routinely inspires MVP chants from opposing fans and had a whole Pacers audience in his corner Monday night rooting for him to break Ray Allen’s all-time record for 3-pointers in Reggie Miller’s city. No visiting player in #thisleague is more apt to commandeer the home crowd thanks to what my Wall Street Journal colleague Jason Gay so smartly described as The Roger Federer Zone that Curry has entered. After two consecutive seasons out of the playoffs that were also marred by Golden State’s slew of injuries, which led to numerous premature declarations that the dynastic Warriors who went to five consecutive NBA Finals could never be resurrected, Curry indeed inspires a Federer-esque level of admiration from fans all over (while leaving tennis-loving me still soaked in envy of Jason for making the comparison in print.)
Equally enduring: Stories upon stories about the night in February 2013 when Curry — not yet an All-Star — uncorked 11 3s and 54 points on the Knicks … also on the second night of a back-to-back that began in Indianapolis. Curry himself told me in this New York Times story in 2018, approaching the five-year anniversary of that masterpiece, how he regards that night as his “coming-out party” on the road to become the most transcendent shooter in the annals of the sport. So it couldn’t be more storybook that he returns to MSG tonight, nearly nine years later, needing only two more 3-pointers to usurp Allen’s 2,973 for the highest regular-season triples total in league history.
In sports, 3,000 has always been a baseball number. Leave it to Curry, who turns 34 in March, to make NBA mathematicians dizzy with the possibilities about how high he can hike his 3-point figures given how hard he’s working every offseason to ensure he’s aging well.
“He’s been a late bloomer his entire life — in everything,” Dell Curry said. “I’m not just saying this because I’m his dad, but his age is not how his body feels. His body has just matured that late in life.”
Dell Curry tried in vain to explain to college recruiters that he, too, didn’t reach his NBA height of 6-foot-4 until he got to Virginia Tech and grew two inches … and that Steph was destined for more than the high school possibilities suggested. No one, though, could have forecasted the sort of trailblazer he became in terms of shooting prowess and redefining the boundaries for what is classified as acceptable distance for launch.
“Of course I knew my sons had the talent to be NBA players,” Dell said, “but I did not know Steph would be a two-time MVP and three-time world champion.”
On Monday night in Dallas, as he always does when Stephen or Philadelphia’s Seth Curry is playing at the same time as the Hornets, Dell Curry kept a phone nearby — in this case to track how the record chase was going. Sometimes the device in question is an iPad, but Dell always finds a way to keep tabs.
“I kind of multitask,” he said.
With Charlotte off until Wednesday’s visit to San Antonio, Dell also made plans to fly from Dallas to New York on Tuesday morning. He was determined, whether or not Stephen had already broken Allen’s record after a run of unusually bumpy games (see Numbers Game for more), to either witness the milestone in person or celebrate it with his son after the fact. There is bound to be revelry tonight since Warriors are scheduled to spend some extra time in the city before proceeding to Boston for their next game Friday against the Celtics.
“It’ll happen when it happens,” Dell Curry said.
It’ll happen at The Garden and, as noted here just the other day, there could scarcely be a more fitting stage. Except, of course, for the New Yorkers who, on this subject maybe more than any other indignity to befall the Knicks over the past two decades, understandably can’t help but lament what might have been.
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Golden State’s Stephen Curry shot 33.1% from the field (41 for 124) in the six games prior to Monday’s victory at Indiana in which Curry made five 3-pointers. It was the worst six-game shooting stretch of Curry’s career, according to Stathead.
Zion Williamson played in only 85 games in his first two NBA seasons and, out indefinitely for the Pelicans this season after suffering another setback in his recovery from offseason foot surgery, has now missed 88 games since New Orleans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Nearly 30 games into the season, Brooklyn’s James Harden is shooting just 40.4% from the field — marginally ahead of the career-low 40.3% he registered as a rookie in Oklahoma City in 2009-10. In losses, Harden is averaging just 17.3 points on 32.5% shooting.
Seven of the league’s top 10 rebounders, including the entire top six, are international players, led by Utah’s Rudy Gobert at 14.6 RPG. The only Americans in the top 10: Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen at No. 7, Houston’s Christian Wood at No. 8 and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis at No. 10.
This is the third successive NBA season disrupted by the coronavirus, which has officially been in our lives now for more than two years. The first known patient in Wuhan, China, to experience symptoms of the illness later classified as COVID-19 was reported on Dec. 8, 2019. The league has postponed two Chicago games this week because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Bulls … its first postponements this season after 31 last season.