Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry has spent most of his historic season facing unfair and incorrect criticism from former NBA players who should instead be showering him with applause and admiration.
Curry is a treasure. What he’s doing is unprecedented, and it’s illogical to view his nightly accomplishments as anything but a gift from the basketball gods.
But Walt Frazier, Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley—to name a few—don’t see it that way. And LeBron James has had enough.
LeBron is the only active NBA player who understands the day-to-day weight Curry carries, the intense fame and unceasingly bright spotlight; the titanic expectations from thousands of fans who want their money’s worth every time he takes the floor.
So it’s no surprise to hear that James supports Curry, and doesn’t appreciate all the negativity ex-players want to spout (via USA Today):
“Yeah, for me personally in my career I’ve done nothing but big-up the guys who paved the way for us,” James told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m respectful to all the guys who paved the way, the greats, guys who were role players, guys who were part of a championship team or was not. I’ve always been respectful, so it does kind of suck when you’ve got guys who played before us and paved the way for us (and) …they like to talk down on a lot of our players, saying, ‘Well if they played in our era it wouldn’t be the same.’” James, who is widely known to have the memory of an elephant, instantly recalled a time in 2013 when he was the subject of such silliness. “I heard Dennis Rodman say if I played in their era I’d just be an average player – yeah, about me, that I’d be just an average player,” James said. “And they say the same things about Steph, ‘If Steph played in our era, then we’d be more physical with him and we’d go at him.’ And it sucks because we’re just trying to carry the torch for the next group to come behind us.
As the most recognizable name in professional sports for nearly a decade, LeBron is right to speak up on Curry’s behalf. Whenever a current star is (deservedly) celebrated by the public, retired players love to bring up their own era as a more difficult brand of basketball. Despite rule changes, evolution, a deeper understanding of strength training and the human body (nutrition, sleep, etc.), all which make comparing eras a fool’s errand, guys from the past love to compare their league to the NBA’s present day.
It’s sad. And LeBron’s response to their nonsense was perfect.