National Basketball Association
Is Stephen Curry in same tier as Kobe, Shaq and Duncan?
National Basketball Association

Is Stephen Curry in same tier as Kobe, Shaq and Duncan?

Updated Mar. 1, 2023 3:55 p.m. ET

Stephen Curry is universally lauded as the best shooter in basketball history.

And after adding his fourth career Larry O'Brien trophy to his hefty hardware collection, Curry's case as a top-10 player of all time gained a new level of steam. Former Lakers point guard Derek Fisher already has the sharpshooting point guard in that company.

"Steph Curry has separated himself as one of the few guys in the history of our game that when you look back, wherever he was or whenever he played, his teams were really successful," Fisher said in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated's "Inside the Warriors." "I put him in that category with Tim Duncan, Kobe [Bryant] and Shaq [O'Neal]. Wherever he is, success is going to follow."

Listing Curry alongside three of the five greatest players to lace them up in the 21st century is first-class praise, especially coming from Fisher, who won five championships alongside Bryant (three with O'Neal) and played against Duncan numerous times, including in a bevy of playoff contests.


Fisher's experience gives him a credibility that few possess to speak on such a contentious matter, but despite his résumé, his comments drew the ire of "Undisputed" cohost "Skip Bayless", who outright dismissed the Curry claim. 

"How can we include a man who came up so small — so much smaller than he even is at 6-3 — down the stretch of the 2016 Finals — that he led a contingent all the way across the country to recruit Kevin Durant?" Bayless asked. "Would Duncan, Kobe or Shaq ever beg someone to come save them? No, they would not."

Shannon Sharpe, though, had no problem with Fisher's statement.

"We've never had a guy this size be this transformational in the history of the NBA," he asserted. "We've always gravitated towards the big guy: Kareem, Wilt, Russell. Everybody is doing what Steph Curry does. The shots that used to get you benched, that's a great shot for Steph. And now everybody shoots it. We're talking about a guy [in Fisher] who's played with Shaq and Kobe, and against Duncan. 

"I don't know why we want to dismiss a guy that's won two MVPs, one unanimous. Six players in NBA history have two MVPs, four titles and a Finals MVP: Kareem Adbul Jabbar, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Steph Curry. Let that sink in. Steph Curry absolutely deserves to be mentioned when you talk about the greats. Fish is absolutely right."

Does Steph Curry belong in the same class as Kobe, Shaq and Duncan?

Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe debate whether Steph Curry belongs in the same sentence as the three NBA legends or not.

Curry generally hasn't been popular among basketball traditionalists, but biases aside, does he deserve to be mentioned with the above trifecta? Take a look at the numbers and decide for yourself. (All four players were named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team).

Shaquille O'Neal

Championships: Four (Three-time Finals MVP, 15 of 19 seasons with 50+ wins — 78.9%)

MVPs: One (Eight top-five finishes)

Points: Shaq: 28,596 (10th all-time). Playoffs: 5,250 (fifth all-time)

Scoring titles: Two

All-NBA selections: 14 (15-time All-Star)

Kobe Bryant

Championships: Five (Two-time Finals MVP, 11 of 20 seasons with 50+ wins — 55%)

MVPs: One (11 top-five finishes)

Points: 33,643 (fourth all-time). Playoffs: 5,640 (fourth all-time)

Scoring titles: Two

All-NBA selections: 15 (18-time All-Star)

Tim Duncan

Championships: Five (Three-time Finals MVP, 18 of 19 seasons with 50+ wins – 94.7%).

MVPs: Two (Nine top-five finishes)

Points: 26,496 (18th all-time). Playoffs: 5,172 (sixth all-time)

Scoring titles: None

All-NBA selections: 15 (15-time All-Star)

Stephen Curry

Championships: Four (1x Finals MVP; seven of 13 seasons with 50+ wins – 53.8%. Curry was also part of the greatest regular season team ever, the 2015-16 Warriors, who went 73-9).

MVPs: Two (Four top-five finishes)

Points: 20,064 (51st all-time, ninth among active players). Playoffs: 3,570 (21st all-time)

Scoring titles: Two

All-NBA selections: Eight (Eight-time All-Star)


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