National Basketball Association

Stephen Curry surpassing Wilt Chamberlain sparks debate about Warriors greats

April 13

"The Chef" cooked up some history on Monday.

Stephen Curry roasted the Denver Nuggets for 53 points, shooting a sizzling 58.3% from the field and 55.6% from beyond the arc in a 116-107 win for the Golden State Warriors.

Along the way, the 33-year-old point guard passed Hall of Famer and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain as the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

Chamberlain racked up 17,783 points over the course of five-and-a-half seasons as a member of the Philadelphia and San Francisco Warriors teams from 1959 to 1965. He averaged 41.5 PPG as a member of the Warriors, including 50.4 PPG in the 1961-62 season.

That's the level of greatness Curry surpassed in the first quarter Monday, when he went off for 21 points to take control of the record.

When Curry finally closed the kitchen Monday, he finished with 17,818 career points for the Warriors, a number that's sure to keep growing.

Unsurprisingly, Curry received the game ball after the victory. He tweeted that he felt "overwhelmed," as well as "humbled and blessed."

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Curry's overtaking of Chamberlain's record gave analysts a chance to reflect on the 6-foot-3 guard's impact on the game.

As Shannon Sharpe pointed out on "Undisputed," the Warriors are fortunate to have not just one player who altered the course of basketball but two.

"It's rare that you find a guy that changes the game. But it's even rarer that you have two guys that played for the same organization that change the game."

In Chamberlain's case, the dominant center forced several rule changes in the game, including widening the lane, offensive and defensive goaltending, and altering both in-bound and free-throw-shooting rules.

Prior to the changes, the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain would jump toward the rim on free throws and either dunk the ball or lay it in — if the legend is to be believed.

In Curry's case, the rules of the game weren't changed, but he impacted the way the game is played.

Since his breakout, 22.9 PPG season in 2012-13, the league's average number of attempted 3-pointers has increased significantly each year, from 20.0 attempts that season to 34.6 in the current season.

Curry led the charge in that long-ball revolution, leading the league in 3-pointers attempted (and made) for five consecutive seasons from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

For Skip Bayless, there's no hyperbole when it comes to describing the impact of Curry's range.

"It is not an overstatement to say he revolutionized the game of basketball with that shot. The greenest of lights but the greatest of depths that we've ever seen."

Skip Bayless discusses Steph Curry's legacy.

The Warriors have two game-changers in their ranks, no doubt.

Which of the two had — or will have — a more lasting impact on the game? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said his lean is toward the active legend.

"This dude is the all-time greatest sniper, and he's transformed the game ... You don't have to be 7-[foot]-1. You could be 6-[foot]-1. You could be 6-[foot]-2, 6-[foot]-3. And as long as you've got marksmanship, you can dream of being Steph Curry."  

Curry has the trophy case to back up the plaudits he's receiving. The seven-time All-Star has three NBA championships with the Warriors and back-to-back league MVP awards, including the league's only unanimous selection for the award after the 2015-16 season.

What's left for him to accomplish? Chris Broussard illuminated the remaining path for Curry on "First Things First."

"When guys nitpick years from now and they're comparing Steph to someone else, that's one thing they'll say: 'He never won that Finals MVP.' But looking forward, I think it's simple: Can he rebuild the dynasty ... [or] get one more ring there? ... That's what it's gotta be over these next few years. Try to rebuild a championship team."

The Warriors of today look to be a long way from challenging for a title ⁠— mainly due to injuries ⁠— but Curry's performance Monday served as a reminder that when it comes to all-time greats, magic can happen at any time.

The greatest chefs can still cook up a world-class meal, even if the ingredients aren't there.

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