ATLANTA — On the night he set an NBA record for most consecutive games with a 3-pointer at 90, Kyle Korver talked about watching a highlight video a few years back that was filmed from his high school days in Iowa.
He was the only sophomore on the team so he got the biggest jersey and the smallest shorts. Now 6-foot-7 and 212 pounds, he said he stood 6-4 and weighed 160 — “terrible pigeon-toed, super skinny” in his own words.
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“I had helicopter spin on my shot back then,” he said on Friday. “I kind of shot it twirled in the air. I don’t know why things happen, why certain people get certain opportunities but I’m really grateful. It’s been a really great ride and I think there’s some time left to do some more so … but, no, I never thought about being in Atlanta and doing something like this.”
In a 108-89 demolition of Cleveland at Philips Arena — the Hawks led by 29 at one point as they won their second straight and improved to 11-10 — it proved fitting that Korver led the team with a game-high 22 points. Perhaps owing to Korver’s humility, his coach and his teammates expressed sincere joy and admiration for his accomplishment.
“A great night for Kyle Korver and I think his teammates are very, very happy for him and the coaching staff, mostly because he’s a great teammate,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s just a person that we all enjoy competing with and being around every day and he’s a heck of a competitor, he’s a heck of a basketball player and he’s a heck of a shooter. For him to do what he did over the course of … 90 (games) or 80 or whatever it’s a heck of an effort. We’re just really pleased for Kyle and we feel fortunate to be a part of Kyle’s night tonight.”
Budenholzer said from his perspective he did not think that Korver’s teammates were trying to get him to break the record early in the game but it was fairly obvious and point guard Jeff Teague admitted to it.
“DeMarre (Carroll) passed up a wide open shot to get it to him in the corner and I did the same thing in transition,” Teague said. “We’re excited for him. It’s a great record.”
With the crowd anticipating the moment when he would break the record, Korver missed his first 3-point try 63 seconds into the game. He had said on Wednesday — he tied the record 30 seconds into the game that night — that he wanted to get it out of the way quickly.
On Friday, the fans didn’t have to wait much longer, even if Korver had a few other touches before he eventually broke the record between 3-point attempts. With 5:30 left in the first period, Paul Millsap set him up and the same stroke that was true for the first 89 games did it once again, putting Atlanta up 18-10.
Twenty-six seconds later, the ball went out of bounds and a television timeout allowed for some congratulation. Korver’s teammates rose to greet him as walked towards the bench, the public address announcer gave some details on the streak and a tribute video played on the scoreboard above the court, showing the game from Nov. 4, 2012, against Oklahoma City when the streak began. Korver broke the record previously held by Dana Barros, who set it 18 seasons ago.
At the end of the first quarter, even the Hawks broadcast team got in on the act, with Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins each donning a muppet-like Korver hairpiece.
Korver took only one other 3-pointer for the remainder of the game, making it.
After the game, in the privacy of the locker room, Korver thanked his teammates.
“I just said thank you,” Korver recounted to the media. “I’ve told you a few times, I’m not out there creating shots. I’m a product of good team basketball, of setting screens and good passes and floor spacing and all that. So this wouldn’t have happened without them. A lot of these guys have been here throughout this whole streak. There’s a lot of thanks to go around, a lot of players who aren’t here this year, coaches who aren’t here this year. I just said thank you.”
Korver’s mother, a former star high school basketball player herself, was present for the game, as were other family members. But in his typically modest fashion, he professed that they were in town not to see him break the record but because his daughter Kyra turned one year old on Thursday.
“Yeah, they came here for my daughter’s birthday, not for me,” he said. “She turned one yesterday but they happened to be in town so they got to enjoy it and they had good seats and stuff, too, so that’s nice.”
In the end, he sounded relieved to have finally broken the record, although a bit more gleeful than on Wednesday. His game-day naps had not been so sound, he said.
“I try not to think about getting this close and not getting it because that would not have been fun,” he said. “Yeah, man. I’m glad it’s over but I’m proud of it for sure.”
At the end of the first quarter, the team gave out T-shirts commemorating the event. Korver deadpanned that he was glad he broke the record so that they wouldn’t all have gone to waste.
He said he has never wanted to be a volume shooter, just an efficient one, a goal he has clearly accomplished. He entered Friday ranked third in the league in 3-point percentage at 51.8 percent.
Reflecting back, he said he never doubted that even as that super-skinny sophomore he would someday play in the NBA.
“It was just a belief that I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this happen,” he said, “but you never think about owning a record of some kind. That was never a thought.”