“It’s surreal to be honest,” said Curry after losing to the Atlanta Hawks last week he was 129 points behind the Warriors’ lead.
“”[Chamberlain has] have a lot of buckets. Obviously, he’s a legend and will remain [one] all over the league but obviously in a Warriors uniform and having lived here all my career it’s pretty insane. So I still have a few points left – hopefully a few more wins – but it’s just a wild thought in general.
“Knowing where it started and what happened over the course of my career … that’s a pretty important milestone.”
At 33, Curry finds himself in the midst of a special relationship with a team and region that few of today’s players can match. Since Curry is now 18 points behind Chamberlain before the matchup with him on Monday evening Denver nuggets (10 ET on ESPN) we met three all-time greats from three different eras, all of whom understand the responsibility that comes with being the face of an organization for an entire career: Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller and Jerry West.
Chamberlain’s existence will only cement what the organization has known for years.
“Look,” Miller said of curry. “He’s Mr. Warrior. He’s Mr. Warrior.”
Editor’s note: These answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Steph is 18 points behind Wilt, making him number 1 on the Warriors’ all-time scoring list. How did Curry change the game the most?
Nowitzki (21 seasons in Dallas; Maverick’s all-time goalscorer): Just to make it cool to pull up from everywhere when you cross half the square. He’s the first to start shooting those deep 3s. Now everyone is pulling back slightly from the logo, but Steph was the first, especially from the dribble, and he’s just coming down in the middle of the game, the shot clock wasn’t going down and he was going to start one. At the time it was like, “What is this guy doing?” He’s been super consistent with it and people are now obviously copying that and starting to shoot from the depths.
I told these stories when I was watching him in those playoffs and rocking the building there, he hit half a square and I screamed at the TV, “Shoot the ball! How, what are you waiting for?” “I’m cheered. He’s one of my favorite players. He definitely changed the game from a shooting perspective.”
West (14 seasons in Los Angeles; Lakers’ second all-time top scorer): I can go back and check the first year with the Lakers when the 3 point line came in and what did they shoot, maybe 200? Maybe not even that many. Curry has just mastered the art of this game, through his hard work, his determination, and again I think he is what he is. After spending time with him, he works on it. His craft is very important to him and I don’t think he will get old – when the players get to the point where they have to withdraw. I don’t think he’s getting that old because he doesn’t rely on tremendous jumping and strength, but on finesse, which is a big part of his game.
Miller (18 seasons in Indiana; Pacer’s all-time goalscorer): He is very similar to Wilt and Shaq and Jordan, Iverson. You changed things. They have changed the way the game is perceived and played.
Steph accumulated his total points a lot farther from the basket than Wilt. Is Curry the best shooter ever?
Müller: He is. He’s … I always thought it was Drazen Petrovic – because we were playing the same position and I needed to see it up close, I thought he was the greatest shooter I’ve ever seen up close, but Steph has just shot to another level.
Here’s the thing about most shooters – they’re like closers in Major League Baseball. We are all selfish and we all believe that we are the best. So if you ask Larry Bird, if you ask Dirk, if you ask Jerry West, Peja, ask Craig Hodges, Steve Kerr – in their day they will tell you, “I would go head to toe with Steph.” So are we. We are like turnkey. Give me the ball in ninth place and shut up and I’ll get it out. So are we. We all feel like Mariano Rivera.
Nowitzki: There have been some amazing shooters throughout the league’s history, but he definitely has the quick release, he has the high bow. He has the deep reach. He can catch and shoot, but he’s also the best shooter outside of dribbling. If he’s not the best, he’s definitely up there with the best. He’s the best of dribbling to me; Catch and Shoot We’ve seen some great shooters in our league, but overall I think you’d probably have to put him number 1.
West: I think yes up to this point. But you need to remember that he creates another group of Sagittarius who will try to emulate him. Will you work that hard? Will they be just as creative with their dribbling? Will they be able to take pictures around the basket? People only talk about his ability to take shot after shot – that’s remarkable in itself. But for me, perhaps the most remarkable thing is how he takes pictures from everywhere.
Curry has become synonymous with the Bay Area. What did it mean to you to play with a franchise your entire career?
Müller: It’s the best feeling to have children who weren’t born [when I played] Walk through the airport or downtown Indiana and have your jersey on. Because they weren’t alive to see you play. Where they get their information from is their parents who were small children who come to watch you perform and we laughed and cried together. That’s the relationship, that’s what it means to me. Does it burn me that I never won a championship in Indiana? Yes. But I’m going to take the love of those fans and those kids to every championship because that’s as eternal as that proverbial ring – the relationship I have with these fans. It’s just amazing in Indiana.
Nowitzki: Now people say: “Dirk who? It’s all about Luka [Doncic]”No, it’s great. Of course it comes with a degree of responsibility, it also brings a little pressure. Everyone knows if the end of the game is coming, you know where the ball is going in the end. It’s fun, it It’s a challenge, but it’s also a bit of pressure, in our position – we’ve been trying to do a championship for a while and obviously Steph has been there, has done that and won several – we wanted to give this city this first championship They’ve never had a basketball championship here. It was a lot of pressure. And I would say in 2006 I didn’t handle the pressure well and I wasn’t at my best. I always remembered that always got me up to speed Getting through for this team and for the city. So it’s great fun, it’s an honor people would say: “Dallas Mavericks, this is Dirk. “It’s great, super special, but of course it brings with it some responsibilities, some pressure.
West: It meant everything to me. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the opportunity to be a free agent to really find out what a franchise you are worth or if it is the same value that you have been playing with for so long. So it is very unique that players today are spending their entire careers with franchises because if you are in a smaller market and you are a really good player, agents today want to move you to bigger markets so they can use their names commercially and make a lot more money for their player. So when you get a franchise that is well run and respected, all of a sudden the players stay there forever. But today it’s just amazing that [Curry’s] The run took a long time and I assume it will last until it ends his career.
Has there ever been a point where you felt like you could leave? Are there any superstar pitches to band together?
Müller: No. And if Michael Jordan had ever called me and tried to get me to come to Chicago, I would have told him to go himself! “I’ll come to see you on I-65 or whatever that freeway is there. I’ll be down to see you.”
I never went anywhere else. Thinking or other teams sniffing around like the Knicks, maybe. I already had a story against her, right? I couldn’t go there. And if there was ever one place I wanted to go, it would have been to go back home and play for my hometown Lakers, and my mentors would be Magic, Byron [Scott] and Michael Cooper. So there weren’t many options, which was good for me. In today’s game, some of these guys have six or seven teams, which is incredible. Personally, I didn’t have that.
Nowitzki: The first time I was really a free agent was in 2010, right before we won the championship. I remember being in town and going to see Mark [Cuban’s] House. It was just me and Mark who were sitting there and I said, “What are we doing?” He says, “We’ll keep taking.” We were so close for a couple of years and so we both got emotional about the things we went through and it was just a great conversation. And I said, “Look, we’re going to try another four years,” and then it was obviously very lucky that we won the championship in the first year of that four-year deal I signed and obviously made it all worth it. But that was really the first discussion of a contract I’ve ever had.
I never really got a lot of pitches because everyone knew I kind of loved Dallas and I wanted it to work. I remember Kobe Bryant approaching me for a year, it was obviously an honor. I think that was after I won the championship and signed my four year contract. Kobe was still doing his thing in LA. We talked, we texted back and forth, but I said, “Listen, I’m sorry and you know how it is. Dallas is my city and home and it would feel super weird to change your uniform on. “And I think he totally got that; I think he respected me more afterwards.
West: Well, there is one time that I really wanted to go, for sure. Looking back at a time when an owner didn’t appreciate me and sold me something that wasn’t true was not only hurtful, but most importantly, it made me angry. And so I didn’t want to play for this team just because of this owner.
And I loved Los Angeles. I loved the weather, the fans, here in this city you could be very anonymous because I wasn’t the type to hang out and that was pretty much me. But surely I would have gone. Today you have agents who protect your rights and represent you in an honorable way, which you didn’t before.
Curry is 12th year with the Warriors. Is staying in one city for an entire career a declining trend in the NBA?
Note: Curry is the second-longest player in the league with a team, just behind Miami’s Udonis Haslem.
Nowitzki: For me, I was ready to live with the fact that I wouldn’t win a title. One of my great idols is Charles Barkley. I loved him – that’s why I was number 14 in Europe because he was number 14 at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. And I’ve never looked at him less because he didn’t win a championship. He just bumped into Michael Jordan the whole time. Of course, you always have that in the back of your mind. They think, “Man, what if? What if I did this?” But I’m just glad it worked out in Dallas. I’m really. And I didn’t have to think about ever leaving this place.
West: There is something about winning and winning with hopefully the same people every year that really appeals to me personally. When developing a player who has an iconic name or respect in your franchise [and they leave]There’s such tremendous damage not only to the franchise, but more importantly I think to the people and children who idolize these players. Suddenly they’re gone and you just say to yourself, “Oh my god.”
Müller: So it’s better for [Nowitzki and West]because not only do they have the loyalty and fan base, but they also rewarded this franchise with the ultimate prize that I didn’t have. So this pains me: as much as I wanted to reward Indiana, I failed to win a championship at this company. That’s why we talk about all of this – it’s jewelry about loyalty.