With their record-setting 23-0 start to the regular season, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have cautiously set their eyes on the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record. But that’s not the only Bulls distinction Curry has his eye on — he wants Michael Jordan’s crown as the greatest basketball player ever.
In a recent interview with ESPN The Magazine, Curry is asked about if he wants to go down in NBA history as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), and if he thinks he can top Jordan:
As Curry admits, it’s difficult, if not nearly impossible, to surpass Jordan’s resumé. The Hall of Famer has done too much, and the narrative of his career played out too perfectly. But why should Curry have anything less than the No. 1 spot on his mind? Like he said, what’s the point of playing if he’s not going to try to be the best player ever?
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Q: Is going down as the GOAT in your mind's eye, or do you just go in conceding that title due to the presence of one Michael Jordan?
Curry: It's a high mountain to climb, but I'm pretty motivated to take on the challenge. Whatever that means, however you got on that mountain, why not try to climb it? And do it in your own way.
Q: So you are trying to top MJ as the greatest of all time?
Curry: Yeah. Why else would I be playing? You want to be the best you can be. And if the best you can be is better than him, then why not? That's good motivation.
Did anyone think Curry would be this good in the first place? The reigning MVP is the best player in the league, and after adjusting for pace, and factoring in the difficult of the modern era, he might be having the greatest offensive season ever.
Of course, there are still 59 games to go. Curry could drop off, as he’s only human (we think). And a slight fade wouldn’t be catastrophic — he’d still be having a great season. That said, it isn’t likely. Everything Curry is doing is sustainable. Indeed, he is this great of a shooter. In the same interview, he said he isn’t playing his best basketball yet, and still has room to grow. That’s a terrifying thought.
His past two seasons are comparable to some of Jordan’s best years, but Curry has to continue to play at this level not just for the rest of this season, but for the next four or five . . . at least. If he can put up multiple seasons with Hall of Fame-level production, and win a few more championships — the taller order of the two, to be sure — he will have done the impossible (again) and forced his way into the "greatest ever" conversation.