Steph Curry’s Allen Iverson-Like Impact

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Updated: November 5, 2015
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Greatness in sports is something that is not easily achieved. There have been plenty of players in pro sports who have been good or mediocre, but there aren’t too many transcendent talents in any one sport per generation. Every now and then a player comes along that seems to rewrite the rules of what is possible in the sport.

Two players in the NBA that have done that, or is doing that now are Allen Iverson and Stephen Curry. The players are from two different eras, they exhibited different styles of play, but both have left me scratching my head in awe of what they could do and are still doing now.

Allen Iverson was like nothing NBA fans saw on an off the court upon his arrival, and his impact on the game is still felt now. Currently, Steph Curry is making a similar impact to what Iverson achieved on the court, and modern NBA fans are being treated to basketball being played at an out of this world level by Curry. And both men are special in their own right.

 

Witnessing The Greatness of The Answer

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I was lucky enough to watch every second of Allen Iverson’s career on and off the court, and I still think back in amazement at all the incredible feats the 5’11 point guard from Virginia accomplished. Night after night I watched A.I. lace up his Answer sneakers and give the person guarding him bucket after bucket in a relentless assault of basketball ballet.

Iverson was faster than his defenders, craftier, had amazing sense of where everyone was on the court, the best handles possibly ever, and a drive to get to the basket by any means necessary. A.I. played with the sort of wrecking ball reckless abandon you’d find in a daredevil, but A.I.’s stunts were done amongst the trees in the painted area on an NBA court near you.

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Iverson was literally worth the price of admission by his lonesome. I’m currently seeing the same thing when I watch Steph Curry, and the blockbuster similarities are frightening.

 

From Splash Brother, To A God Amongst Men

Steph is more finesse to Iverson’s relentless onslaught, but the results are no different. Steph, like A.I., will lull you to sleep with his world-class dribbling, but instead of crossing you and leaving you in his wake like Iverson would, Steph will just pull up straight in your face and drain a basket from 25 feet away…every time.

Steph will also celebrate the impending basket before it hits the bottom of the net because, well because Steph is that good. Steph knows where everyone on both teams is at all times even when he isn’t looking up, his passing is becoming elite, his shooting is already elite, he’s quick, he’s agile, and he’s starting to play so damn good defense.

Again, the players have different end products of how they bury you, but the lead up to the baskets, whether it be them creating their own basket off the dribble, or getting their shots through screens is eerily similar.

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The defensive aspects of their game are what I found interesting. I watched Iverson play his entire career, and in his prime, Iverson was a good defender.

He wasn’t great, but he was not pushover on the defensive end. Too many times I see someone say that Iverson gambled too much on the defensive end, well there is a reason for that. Iverson had great defenders all around him like Dikembe Mutombo, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow.

Since Iverson knew he had defensive back up, he would cheat more often than most instead of just fronting the player he was guarding straight up on every possession. Iverson knew if he could get to the ball with his lighting quick speed, that it was an easy steal and two points. It’s the same thing with Steph Curry.

Steph is now being considered a good defender, but that’s because he also has two amazing defenders in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in close proximity to clean up any mess he may leave behind. Neither player is an elite defender, but both could hold their own. Steph’s defense is getting better every game, and it’s just another feather in his cap.

As far as A.I., don’t let those who didn’t watch Iverson in his early days and in his prime tell you he was a terrible defender, it’s a myth. The man lead the league in steals with 3 per game during the 2002 NBA season. He was just fine on the defensive end during his peak years.

 

Their Impacts Will Be Felt Forever…

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Iverson’s on court impact is still resonating in this era’s NBA, and you’d be a liar to say it isn’t. Players like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall are just the latest versions of Iverson.

Shooting guards playing the point guard position, they are faster than everyone else on the court, they aren’t great shooters, but they do so much damage in other areas of the court including driving to the basket and drawing double teams that it makes up for their underwhelming jump-shots.

Iverson’s style of play was unique to just him because we had never seen a player so small feel so comfortable taking the abuse he was taking in the painted area.

Iverson would never back down from a challenge, and he attacked the basket and the big-men guarding it as if they owed him money.

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The three aforementioned modern-day players do the exact same thing. Russ and Wall are better passers than A.I., but neither could put the ball in the basket at the rate Allen Iverson was doing during his prime.

Iverson could drop 50 in back to back games while being double-teamed and make it look easy. At the time we never saw anything like Allen Iverson, and right now we are currently witnessing a Steph Curry moment we have never seen before that will leave its own impact. Curry’s game is all bravado and finesse.

He’s too smooth for his own good, and he plays like he’s in a Hollywood movie. He has a certain panache about his game that’s more cockiness than confidence, but in a way that is not unbecoming. My favorite part of Curry’s game is he’s bringing back what I used to love most about the NBA when growing up, the trash talk.

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Curry is a showman, and he’s mouthing off to the crowd and looking at opposing bench players and high-fiving his own guys while his shot is still in route to the basket.

He may not be trash talking like Michael Jordan, Gary Payton or Larry Bird, but his brand of mouthing off is no less fun to consume. And there will be a generation of players who will want to emulate Curry. They will try and shoot better, pass better, dribble better, all while making it look easy as Sunday morning.

Where the youth who were watching Iverson wanted to cross you up and take you to the hole, Curry’s kids will want to dribble circles around you and pull a J in your face and keep their arm up the entire time until the ball drops. Ruthless.

I am lucky enough to say that I witnessed the MVP seasons and the rise of two NBA little giants from the beginning to end. Two totally different men off the court with Iverson being the ultimate rebel and bane of to the existence of authority, while Curry is the model citizen/boy next door you’d want your daughter to marry.

Iverson’s off-court impact would have to be a piece all its own. What Iverson brought to an entire culture of basketball fans globally cannot be summed up in just one section of a piece. But as far as on the court, the nature in which both players were the most exciting phenoms at a point in their careers cannot be stated enough. 

The two titans couldn’t be any more different in their off court personas, but on the court, the two super-stars have added their own style and flair to a game that will never be forgotten. If you weren’t old enough to appreciate prime Allen Iverson, then I feel for you because you missed basketball artistry at its best.

Cherish what you’re seeing from Steph Curry, cherish what you say from A.I. Leave the comparisons alone and celebrate greatness.

Because players like these two come only once in a generation, if ever. And we should all sit back in awe of what it is that we either witnessed, or are currently witnessing.

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