Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by bobheckler on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:38 am

http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/columnists/gregg-doyel/2015/06/08/doyel-nobody-even-steph-curry-shoots-like-bird/28701529/



Doyel: Nobody, not even Steph Curry, shoots like Bird
Gregg Doyel, gregg.doyel@indystar.com 9:43 a.m. EDT June 9, 2015






Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird 635693773433581853-BirdCurry
(Photo: Star photo illustration)




They're lining up now to call him basketball's greatest shooter, and to a point I'm on board with the praise for Golden State's Stephen Curry. Greatest active shooter? Certainly. Best 3-point shooter ever? Sure, why not. Best-shooting guard, best-shooting dad with an adorable daughter named Riley, best-shooting son of a former sweet-shooting NBA player – fine, all of it.

Best shooter ... ever?

Can't go there. Because I remember Larry Bird.

So I called Bird, told him the debate, told him he – not Stephen Curry – is my choice for greatest shooter ever.

And Larry Bird didn't tell me I'm wrong.

It's a subjective title, an unprovable assertion, but what I believe is this: The natural, the guy who shoots it better than anybody ever has, is Larry Bird.

He's running the local NBA team, and that's an inconvenient truth. Makes this opinion here look biased, suspect. Look at the Indianapolis homer, defending one of his own. I'm not stupid. I know how it looks. Don't care though.

Growing up in Mississippi, then Georgia? Larry Bird wasn't my local guy. He played for Indiana State, then the Celtics. Might as well have been on the other side of the world, but even from the Deep South it seemed clear that I was watching the best to ever shoot a basketball.


That doesn't mean Steph Curry isn't worthy of this discussion, because he is. LeBron James says there's "never been a guy in our league who was able to shoot the ball the way (Curry) does off the dribble or off the catch." Chauncey Billups says Curry has "the most beautiful shot we've ever seen." Stephen A. Smith calls Curry "the best pure shooter the NBA has ever seen," and Steve Nash says "he's the greatest there's ever been."

Now in the NBA Finals, Curry's uncanny shot-making is drawing superlatives. And he might well be the second-greatest shooter of all time.

But there can be only one. And for me – for lots of us, right? – Bird's the one.

Bird might even be the one for Bird himself, though he absolutely did not go that far when I asked him about Curry, and about himself. But he went far enough. He knew my story was Curry-or-Bird, and he knew my position was Bird, not Curry, and this is what he said when I asked him who was better:

"It's really in different stages," is how Bird started his answer. "He's no doubt a great shooter from long distance and short distance. He shoots more 3-point shots than anything. Usually outside that 3-point line if you're consistent and hit shots, people automatically think you're a great, great shooter – which he is, no question.

"But when I played, the 3-point shot was not the biggest thing. That was the last thing we thought of when we played. Later on in my career, we shot more (3's). My whole game was mid-range – that's where I played. I posted up later, but down screens, 15 to 23 feet, that was my game."

There's a statistic basketball folks use to measure great shooting, a combination of numbers that is the Holy Grail of great shooting: 50-40-90. It's finishing a season at 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line. Just six players have done it. Only two have done it more than once: Nash, who has done it four times, and Bird (1987, '88). The others to have reached 50-40-90: Mark Price (1989), Pacers guard Reggie Miller ('94), Dirk Nowitzki (2007) and Kevin Durant (2013).

Curry hasn't done it but has come close, and he's just 27. He could do it some year, or every year for the next decade, and regardless he belongs in the conversation of greatest shooter ever. But Bird was different. If you saw him, you know. He's my forever shooter. Don't expect me to apologize.


https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://interactives.indystar.com/static/PDF/birdcurry_compare.pdf


It was a thrill to talk shooting with Bird the other day, and – you know what? Enough of my words. Here's Bird on the overall topic of great shooting and the realization that, you know what? Larry Bird was a great shooter:

"There were some days," Bird says, "it didn't matter what I did out there. I couldn't miss. I could try to miss and wouldn't. I'd be out there working out, I'd get on a roll and say, 'I wonder if anybody ever made this many shots in a row.' There were days it was pretty incredible."

Give me an example.

"One time I ran like 3 miles," Bird says. "Game that night. Go out and get loosened up and shoot jumpers. I didn't know it, but a TV station in Boston was counting. I never paid no attention. They said: 'You know you hit 74 shots in a row?' Nah, I can't really remember shooting. My mind was someplace else. They ran that highlight that night in fast speed."


More. Tell me more.

"When I went to work out, if I went in and hit everything, I just left," Bird says. "I wouldn't stay. You run around shooting from different areas. If you hit, I don't know, 300 out of 350 or something like that, that was good. But some days I'd go in and hit 94 out of 100, and that's when I'd just quit."

More.

"Even if I was done shooting jumpers," Bird says, "I'd still shoot my 100 free throws. Always hit in the high 90s. I'd try every summer to five times hit 99 in a row and then bank No. 100. Have to do it five times. You'd go and shoot 20. Get off the line, get out of that rhythm, then get back on."

More.

"If my shot was off," Bird says, "it was to the back right side of the rim. That's where it hit, and it took me a while to come out of that. If I had one of those days, I'd stay out there sometimes three hours to correct it."

So Larry Bird wasn't perfect. He had days where his shot wasn't automatic. Interesting. Because I watched him for 20 years. And I don't remember one.



Who's the greatest? The numbers

Name, years --------------------- FG% -- 3FG% --- FT% --- Career scoring

Stephen Curry, 2010-present -- .471 -- .440 ---- .900 ----- 20.9 ppg

Kevin Durant, 2008-present --- .481 --- .379 --- .881 ----- 27.3 ppg

Dirk Nowitzki, 1999-present -- .475 ---- .383 --- .879 ----- 22.2 ppg

Steve Nash, 1997-2014 ------- .490 ---- .428 --- .904 ----- 14.3 ppg

Reggie Miller, 1988-2005 ----- .471 ---- .395 --- .888 ----- 18.2 ppg

Mark Price, 1987-98 ---------- .472 ---- .402 --- .904 ----- 15.2 ppg

Chris Mullin, 1986-2001 ------ .509 ---- .384 --- .865 ----- 18.2 ppg

Larry Bird, 1980-92 ---------- .496 ---- .376 ---- .886 ----- 24.3 ppg

Rick Barry, 1966-80 ---------- .456 --- .297 ---- .893 ----- 24.8 ppg




bob
MY NOTE:  This column is like crack for Cowens.  Makes you have a little bit more respect for that "sneaky little Canadian" too, doesn't it?  What a shame he went out with a whimper.  Can't say I can blame him, though.  If someone was stupid enough to offer me $27M to play basketball for 3 more years when I was already almost 39 years old I'd be hard pressed to say 'no' too.  Rick Barry with that super-smooth underhanded free throw that never seemed to even skim the rim.  Reggie Miller was Gervin 2.0. Nowitski is Olynyk beta version (that's a joke, btw). Mark Price with the texbook mechanics. Durant using his freakish length to shoot over everybody. And I've always had a blind spot for tweeners, I never see them coming.  I didn't see Corliss Williamson carving out a niche in the NBA and I didn't think Chris Mullin would either, even though he went to my local university, St. Johns.

This is about great shooters but what separates Larry Legend from every other one of the illuminati named is that he was named to the NBA's All-Defense Team, 3x no less.  Another thing that separates him is that he is the only one to have won multiple championships.



.
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by cowens/oldschool on Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:01 pm

bob I have no doubt that if Bird came into the League at a time like now where they emphasize the 3 ball, he would easily adapt and be known for even more as a 3 point shooter....duh

and how many 3 point shooters had such a great unstoppable post up game like Bird?
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by tjmakz on Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:43 pm

How is Steve Nash not known as the best shooter ever?
When you combine fg%, 3pt fg% and FT%, Nash is at the top of the list.
Was Bird the greatest player out of those in Bob's post?
Of course. It's not even close...
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by Outside on Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:20 pm

Curry is a great shooter, but I wish the media would just stop with this "greatest shooter of all time" talk. That's a discussion to have after his career is over or at least after he has a few more years of performing at a top level under his belt.

Even then, different eras make such comparisons difficult. Bird was the greatest shooter of his generation. Curry may very well be the greatest shooter of his. Anything more than that is blather.

This need to anoint a current top performer at "the greatest ever" or on the Mount Rushmore of whatevers is annoying. I know these infantile pronouncements aren't going to stop, but I look forward to the day that there's at least some appreciation for historical context instead of labeling the newest, shiniest thing as the greatest ever.
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by Sloopjohnb on Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:23 pm

Bird has said that he was a better shooter in college. After being drafted by the Celtics Bird broke his index finger on his shooting hand in a softball game and the finger never fully recovered.

Shooting is also a mind thing. Jerry West said that he was a better shooter in high school and thinks it was because he didn't know much about the game and was less distracted when he shot.

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Post by cowens/oldschool on Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:06 pm

wonder why Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are not on that list?
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by tjmakz on Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:40 am

cowens/oldschool wrote:wonder why Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are not on that list?

Pierce was/is a very good scorer but not a great shooter.
Here's his career 2pt, 3pt and FT percentages: .447, .371, .806

Here's Ray Allen's career stats: .452, .400, .894
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Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird Empty Re: Nobody, Not Even Steph Curry, Shoots Like Larry Bird

Post by dboss on Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:38 pm

No doubt this is an interesting debate.  I have watched this game for a long time and saw many great shooters.  Jerry West was probably the original long distance bomber.

And an argument can certainly be made that Nash deserves to be mentioned in the conversation

The othr players mentioned like ray Allen and Bird are all part of the conversation but I think Curry may be on another level.

The articles references Bird and as we know bird was also a great long distance shooter and great shooter in general

I think what makes Curry different is the share volume of 3 point shots attempted combined with a career 3P shooting percentage of .440.  Bird shot .376 percent during his career 649/1727.  Curry has only played 6 years and has produced 1191/2704.

Nash played 18 years and shot  an amazing .428% from behind the arc 1685-3939

Allen shot.400 on over 7,000 attempts.  Curry has a long way to go before the final tally comes in but his first 6 years are truly amazing and in my opinion I have never seen anyone stroke the ball like that.  Standing still, off the dribble, left side right side.. He has a damn near perfect stroke and form

Through the first 6 years of an NBA career Curry is the best that I have seen.

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