TORONTO — When the Toronto Raptors signed Dell Curry in 1999 to provide some shooting on the perimeter, they also acquired two young children in the deal that would dart around the back hallways of the Air Canada Center dribbling basketballs and bouncing off the walls.
Steph Curry remembers those days well as a pre-teen, horsing around with little brother Seth in front of ushers who still work there. He recalls watching his first and only hockey game when the Maple Leafs were home, and even being held out of his first game as a middle school kid because he did not do the dishes earlier that day.
“To be back here and celebrate an All-Star game is special,” Curry said.
He returns to the place he called home for three years for All-Star weekend at the height of his powers, an NBA champion, the reigning MVP and the new face of the league while his Warriors blow the doors off of the competition.
“There’s a lot more to accomplish,” Curry said. “It’s nice that I won a championship and an MVP and all that and to be here for weekends like this. I want to continue to strive for more.”
The Warriors are an astounding 48-4 at the break and have taken aim at the single-season record of 72 wins by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Curry leads the league in scoring at 29.8 points per game and splashes 3-pointers like no one to have ever played before him. A second straight MVP award appears inevitable, and the baby-faced assassin has designs on doing for Under Armour what Michael Jordan did for Nike.
He has also made the 3-pointer cool again, with his showdown with teammate Klay Thompson in the 3-point shootout on Saturday night more anticipated than the passe dunk contest.
“I’ve never seen anybody hit the shots that he hits,” Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said. “That’s the only thing you can say right now. He’s really that good.”
Much of the All-Star festivities this weekend are concentrated on paying respects to Lakers star Kobe Bryant in his final trip, and Curry joked when he took the podium after a stampede of journalists raced across the ballroom floor to follow Bryant that, “Kobe is talking if anybody wants to go.”
But there is no denying who owns the NBA right now. Curry’s jersey is the league’s best seller for the second straight season, with the younger generation becoming enamored with his shooting range and slick ball-handling. And even his teammates have a hard time keeping their composure when he rips off one of his shake-and-bake dribbles and launches a step-back 3 from another zip code.
“You’re definitely wowed, but you just kind of try to stay focused,” fellow Warriors All-Star Draymond Green said. “Because sometimes he can catch you. We used to do it a lot and get wild about what Steph’s doing and just give him the ball, give him the ball. I think we work better now when he’s having those moments and continuing to play. But some of the stuff he does is pretty amazing.”
For Curry, nothing is out of the question anymore.
Greatest shooter ever?
“I feel like I could go toe-to-toe with pretty much anybody,” he said. “But the longevity of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller have been able to accomplish. Sixteen, 17 years of shooting at a very high level. That’s what I’m striving for. I’m on a pretty good pace, but that’s what I want to continue to do.”
Single-game record for 3s?
He hit 11 in a game at Washington on Feb. 3, just one short of tying the mark. “I thought I had it two weeks ago,” he said.
With Curry serving as the face, Under Armour is quickly climbing up the ladder in sports apparel. “They had a nice template of success with Jordan’s career,” Curry said of Nike. “We’re trying to do it our way, which is very genuine and organic to what we’re trying to do. It’s been a great partnership so far.”
The only thing that hasn’t worked out for Curry in recent memory was a foray into property acquisition a little earlier in his career.
“I dabbed in real estate too early before I knew what I was doing,” Curry said. “So I’ve got a couple properties that aren’t doing too well. If anybody’s in the market for a nice three bedroom house in the greater Charlotte area, let me know.”