Could Steph Curry be the Greatest Basketball Player Ever?

The NBA’s next MVP might be even better than we thought, but will the Warrior be better than MJ?
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The NBA’s next MVP might be even better than we thought, but will the Warrior be better than MJ?
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I was there the night it truly began. After three injury-plagued season, the young Steph Curry was finally playing at Madison Square Garden on national television. It was February 2013, and the Golden State Warrior was about to put all those questions about his ankle, his softness, and whether he’d actually live up to expectations behind him. He was about to embark on a basketball journey that will most likely include an MVP trophy by season’s end, and perhaps even an NBA title. But first, he was about to drop 54 points on the Knicks home court, a feat that put him in company with names like Chamberlain, Bryant, Jordan, and James.

The Warriors ended up losing that game—a small victory in the Knicks torrent of woe that is their existence—but they don’t lose much any more. The Warriors that played in 2013 were young. Now, they are very, very good—but no one on the team can match what Curry is doing right now. In fact, there is no single player in the NBA that can decide an outcome of a game more than Curry. This past Saturday, the dominant Warriors faced off against the embarrassing Knicks. For most teams, this is a night off, a chance to have some fun, rack up the stats, and not get hurt. But the Knicks stayed in the game, and were within five points with less than three minutes on the clock. That’s when Curry got to work. Hitting back-to-back threes and then cutting through the lane for a lay-up, he gave Golden State a double-digit lead, and an easy victory. But Curry wasn’t satisfied.

“We’re trying to win a championship,” Curry told the New York Post. “A couple years ago, this would have been a good win for us. It is a good win, but the way that it happened was not good. It’s a different era about how we go about our business.”

“So regardless of the score at the end of the night, it’s all about getting better in the process and trying to be playoff ready when that time comes. If we play like we did tonight in the playoffs we’re not going anywhere.”

Not going anywhere has been the problem with a terribly talented Golden State team, who hasn’t been able to get deep into the playoffs since the advent of the “Splash Brothers,” the fearsome tandem of Curry and Klay Thompson, a Pippen to Curry’s Jordan. After losing to the Hawks on Friday night in a battle of the two best teams in the NBA, it’s clear that the road to the championship will not be easy for Curry. But the scary thought (for other NBA teams at least) is perhaps Curry hasn’t reached all of his potential just yet.

Statistically, Curry is having a season that’s almost identical to last year’s -- incredible shooting, solid point totals, and at least eight assists a night. The thing is, he’s putting up these numbers on less minutes per night than he’s played since his early injury-plagued days. Curry could be dropping huge numbers, but on an incredible roster, he’s not asked to do too much… yet.

Come the playoffs, Curry will be battling it out with the likes of Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, and James Harden, each player’s who are considered legitimately capable of winning a game single-handedly. But none of them have the sheer ability to both create space, dish, or hit a shot from literally anywhere, that Curry can. And with the season on the line, expect the young Curry to get as much run as possible. Not since heyday Dirk Nowitzki has the NBA seen a player that can single-handedly win a game or even a championship (LeBron proved he couldn’t during his first stint in Cleveland) – but Curry might just be that player. Lucky for him, with such a good team behind him, he might not have to.

Photos by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images