As Stephen Curry and LeBron James prepare to play on smaller stage with lesser teams, greatness is guaranteed

The truly all-time greats mark their excellence in part by the ability to overcome the things that befuddle all the others: Bad matchups, bad seasons, injured or underperforming supporting co-stars, truly worthy competition and the burden of otherwise underwhelming teams they must carry.

For the Golden State Warriors, that list of worries and the wobbling season that followed them also included one star teammate assaulting another, a paltry 11 road wins in the regular season, a middling defense and the need to keep a suddenly floundering dynasty alive in the face of so much forthcoming uncertainty.

But all of those things faded Sunday in the presence of Stephen Curry’s ridiculous, unprecedented and undeniable talent. It was an all-time great playoffs performance from a literal all-time great player.

Curry dropped 50 to wipe away all these obstacles, shot after shot, reminder after reminder that for all the other truths in the association, this one remains so: Steph is still Steph.

In his herculean effort, Curry became the first 50-point scorer in any Game 7 in NBA history. He dropped 30 — 30! — of those points in a second half that opened with a two-point Kings lead and ended as a masterclass in one of the game’s masters going to work.

The result was a 120-100 beatdown over the Sacramento Kings to set up a showdown in the second round against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, but it was more than that, too.

It was a reminder, historical in its weight, that the things we think we know about basketball teams and likely matchups and playoff seeds and faltering franchises and aging or fading teammates and angst and doubt sometimes mean nothing when weighed against some of the best to ever play the game.

“We all take him for granted because he’s brilliant night after night,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told the media after the game. “We’ve been watching this for 10 years and you just have to remind yourself every once in a while, big picture, ‘This is one of the greatest players in the history of the game.’ 

“That’s how I felt back in my playing days with Michale Jordan,” Kerr continued. “You’d just see it night after night and you just took it for granted. That’s how it is with Steph.”

Indeed it is, and has been, for much of this season, with both Steph and LeBron.

As late as Feb. 25, the Warriors and Lakers were 9th and 13th in the Western Conference, respectively. Now one of them will be in the Western Conference finals, and perhaps beyond.

Yes, Kevon Looney was great Sunday, pulling down 21 rebounds. And between now and each of these teams’ turnarounds the last couple months, a host of help has emerged — from Looney and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and others for the Warriors, from Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura and others for the Lakers.

But for each team, their north star has been their true stars: LeBron for the Lakers, Steph for the Warriors.

These are not merely great players. They are historically outstanding, LeBron and Steph doing things in the past calendar year to remind us of their rarified places in the sport’s history, including Curry’s 50-point barrage.

For me, at least, they are each Top 5 all-time, and they each can carry teams even further than they have so far this season.

It is easy to lose sight of just how great these guys are, and the impact they have on the postseason. Each is older. Each has missed enough time due to injuries the last few seasons to take them out of MVP consideration and slightly obscure their continued importance. Each has, at times, looked his age, including in these playoffs, further pushing the idea that this moment belongs to younger stars on the rise.

Time to again put that notion on hold. Time to remember, since they have reminded us, they’re still dangerous and capable no matter the current challenges.

Curry putting it all out there to will and carry his sixth-seeded team to a second-round showdown against LeBron James, who did the same things in his own series against the Memphis Grizzlies to carry his seventh-seeded team into May, is the ultimate reminder that in the NBA all-time greatness should never be discounted. 

We have witnessed so much history from each player, including in the past months. Both are among the best to ever play. Both have refused to go quietly, even in the face of lesser teams, steeper odds, and more pressing and capable opposition.

The Kings deserve so much praise, and their future is surely bright. Same for a Grizzlies team that missed key players for their series and seem to be built for future success. But neither could overcome the GOAT before them, because that level of greatness, when it still has that level to give, can raise its team and itself to beat anyone.

Kerr’s right. How easily we take for granted Steph and LeBron, who have won two of the last three NBA Finals, because what is common rarely feels special. Even all-time greatness.

Perhaps the only guarantee against one of them is the other. And starting Tuesday, we’ll get to see, yet again, just which GOAT can get the best of the other one.  

Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

Back to top button