In the span of about twenty minutes, Stephen Curry cemented his status as the NBA’s best shooter when he sank a record 27 points in the championship round of the Foot Lockers 3-Point Contest.
With a field that included both league leaders in 3-pointers made this season — Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver — two former champions of the contest, in Kyrie Irving and Marco Belinelli, and the three of the deadliest shooting guards in the game — James Harden, J.J. Redick and Klay Thompson, this year’s contest looked to be the toughest in league history.
And once the competition began, it became evident that was true.
Harden(15), Redick(17), Korver(18), and Belinelli(18) all had disappointing performances in this field of super-shooters, and Matthews(22) was just barely knocked out of the first round by the amazing shooting display put on by Curry(23), Irving(23), and Thompson(24). But come the championship round, Curry might as well have changed his name to Dylon, cause all he was dropping was hot fire.
Curry was the only person to improve his score in the championship round; Kyrie and Klay managed to put up just 14 and 17 points respectively, while Curry turned it up to the max and drained 13 in a row on route to a record-setting 27 point round.
After three previous attempts and an inability to come home with the trophy, this was an important step in Curry’s career. It’s hard to constantly be called the greatest shooter in the game while not being able to win a competition that aims to display exactly who the best shooter is.
That’s just one of the great things about Curry, though: he didn’t let the idea of possibly losing stop him from competing. You can’t say the same about LeBron James and the Slam Dunk contest.
The reason the 3-point contest was so special this year is the fact that the absolute best shooters from across the league were all competing; this was what we as fans expect from All-Star weekend, the best in the NBA showcasing their amazing skills.
There were superstars in the contest as well as people relativly unkown to casual NBA fans. It was a true competition, because all of the contestants were among the best at what they do.
This is the opposite of where the Slam Dunk Contest has gone in recent years, considering that it’s turned from a showcase of the most amazing athletes in the league to a place exclusively for rookies and lesser-known players. The only reason that people were uncertain about who’d win was because many weren’t quite sure who was competing in the first place.
Let’s hope that the field of competitors next year is as thrilling as this year’s was. With the rapid ascent of the 3-pointer’s importance in the strategy of teams now, the level of excitement should only grow. I’m already looking forward to seeing Curry defend his title next February, especially against his teammate Klay Thompson!