As Stephen Curry has climbed to the top of the NBA world this season, it’s become common for former NBA greats to marginalize his success.
Many claim that in a past, more physical era, defenders wouldn’t allow Curry the space he currently gets to fire off so many threes, thus reducing his dominance on the court.
It’s, of course, a silly argument, but there’s been no shortage of former players who have echoed the sentiment.
USA Today’s Sam Amick interviewed LeBron James about the criticism today’s players receive from former stars, and LeBron gave a thoughtful response.
“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,” James said. “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.'”
He continued, taking a moment to defend Curry, too.
“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. 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 Amick notes, it’s not the first time LeBron has acknowledged Curry’s greatness. After Curry’s ridiculous, 38-foot game-winner over the Thunder in February, James said he’s never seen anything like Curry.
LeBron said players like himself, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, and Curry are keeping the league in good health and that the criticism is unwarranted.
“We’re doing our job. We’re doing our job to continue to make this game beautiful,” James said.
“So you hear about (the criticism), but you don’t let it affect you because we understand that they paved the way for us. … Now myself, D-Wade, ‘Melo, Chris Bosh, CP3 (Chris Paul), we’re kind of paving the way for Steph, Klay, all those generations, and now they’re doing it for the younger guys. It’s no biggie.”
LeBron’s defence of Curry may be surprising, given that he’s bristled over the Warriors’ dominance in the past. Nonetheless, James has heard his fair share of criticism, and, regardless of his own competitive spirit, it appears he knows that Curry can go down as an all-time great, too.
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