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Win or lose, Steph Curry’s impact on basketball is undeniable

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Stephen Curry will be remembered as one of the most transcendent basketball players in the history of the game. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

If Tuesday night was the first time you ever watched the Golden State Warriors, you might believe it was the first time they’ve played together as a team.

They were throttled by the Utah Jazz as porous defense and an inability to knock down a shot led to an embarrassing loss.

I really don’t want to hit you with one of those lame cliches like “it was just one of those nights,” but what else is there to say? The defending champs stunk it up in Salt Lake City and dropped their 11th game of the season.

But an individual game result in January cant overshadow an exceptional body of work. Especially after we were all recently reminded just how phenomenal Stephen Curry is, and how he’s become a global icon that’s transcended the game of basketball.

Curry scored a season-high 49 points against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics with a soft touch around the rim and an array of 3-pointers. He’s joining a club that’s only let in guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — trendsetters who changed the sport.

The trickle-down effect Curry is having at all levels of basketball is now reality. Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter grew up watching Jordan revolutionize basketball with his sneakers, tongue-wagging and patented fadeaway, and tried to model their games after No. 23.

Now, Trae Young of Oklahoma — the 6-foot-2,180-pound 19-year-old freshman phenom who is averaging 29.6 points and 9.6 points a game and dropped 44 points Tuesday night against Baylor — is ushering in a new wave of players who will mimic Curry.

As a child, Young recorded all of Curry’s games and learned that he could tilt the floor like the Baby-Faced Assassin. And he’s grown into a player who is a threat to score from 30-feet away from the basket.

This won’t be the last time we see a young hooper study and master all of Curry’s tricks. This is just the beginning. Globally, over the next 10 years, Curry’s fingerprints will be all over basketball.

Are there stronger, athletic players who can run faster and jump higher than Curry? Sure. Is he a lockdown defender? No, but he’s better than you might think on that end.

Curry is the People’s Champ – the face of basketball with a combination of lethal shooting and deft ballhandling that has made him the most popular player in the NBA.

Yes, more popular than LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. He boasts the top-selling jersey in the NBA because he doesn’t possess the freakish attributes of some of his peers.

There’s plenty of evidence of his influence on the hardwood. Just peep the 2017 NBA Finals.

Once Curry crossed half court on a fast break or came off of a screen, multiple Cleveland Cavaliers’ would converge onto the sharp-shooter, fearing he’d break their spirits with a 25-foot swish — only to be disappointed when he passed it off for a thunderous Durant dunk or a wide open Klay Thompson 3-pointer.

Whether it was Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook or Iverson’s sleeve, cornrows and tattoos, Curry can sit at the table with transcendent superstars — because he is just that.

Believing James and Durant are the best players in the NBA is OK, but the most incomparable figure is Curry — and it’s not even close.

Barring injury, Curry will obliterate the 3-point record books and finish in the top-five in career free throw percentage — all while winning multiple championships and Most Valuable Player awards.

Whether you like his style of basketball or not, one thing you can’t disagree with is his influence on the game of basketball.

Fans should be thankful we’re witnessing Curry’s greatness. Whether he can bring it every night or not.

Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.

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