The story began innocently enough back on October 12, 1979. Interestingly enough, that date was close to nine years before Stephen Curry was born. That date was the night when the NBA debuted a new rule.
Boston Celtic guard Chris Ford was the first player to take advantage of the new rule when he made a shot from just beyond the top of the key. Ford was just beyond a new arcing line that was on the court. The new rule established that his shot was worth three points.
And the beginning of a new era in basketball got its roots. It was the first 3-point field goal in NBA history.
Fast forward 42+ years to Tuesday night. Curry, a long-time star of the Golden State Warriors, visited Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks. He entered the game against the Knicks two 3-pointers shy of breaking Ray Allen’s career record of 2,973. It only took Curry five minutes to surpass Allen.
The former standout who played his college ball at nearby Davidson is still only 33 years old, and could well play another 4-5 years and set the all-time number to an unreachable figure before he’s done.
It took a shooter like Curry to totally transfigure sport. The transformation took some time. Rick Pitino, then a college coach at Providence, accurately pointed out 35 years ago, that it only took two shots to score six points, if you made them, to the ordinary three made shots. Problem was for most teams, there just were not enough long range shooters out there to base your whole offense around the three point shot. Missed three point shots led to long rebounds to the opposing team and that led to fast break points against the three point shooting team.
Gradually, the NBA introduced us to more and more shooters. Larry Bird actually made his NBA debut the night Ford made the first three in NBA history. Reggie Miller and Ray Allen came around. Even Curry’s father, Dell, is known as one of the best long range shooters of all time.
Still, teams did not base their whole offense around the three points shot until Steph Curry came along. He became a threat as soon as he crossed half court. One quick dribble, right or left, and he would tally three quick points. Curry makes enough for the statistical formula to work.
What Curry also does is open up space and opportunity for his teammates. Oftentimes, opponents double-team him and he finds an open teammate for a layup or for a wide open three point shot. You see, it is a copycat league with copycat players. There are more and more shooters in the league now.
Just none as good as Curry.