Thursday, December 10, 2015

Steph Curry. The lunacy has begun-- again

It seems every day in every game, one thing or the other is always the greatest. So sayeth the hyperventilating talking heads, sometimes known as sports announcers.

According to them, every dunk in basketball is "spectacular". Truth is, dunks in pro and college basketball are as routine as making 6 inch putts in golf. Spin it all you want, but this is nothing special and the ball is expected to go in the hole. It only becomes unusual when a player misses either.

Some still maintain the back to the plate catch Willie Mays made off the fly ball hit by Vic Wertz was the greatest of all time. Nothing could be further from the truth. In modern times countless major league outfielders routinely make such a catch -- and even better ones -- almost on a daily basis.

Debates will rage forever as to who was the greatest player ever in their particular sport. Once upon a time it was Gordie Howe in hockey -- until Wayne Gretzky came along and shattered all his records in a much shorter amount of time played.

In golf, Tiger Woods was on course to become the greatest ever -- until he crashed and burned. Nobody talks about him breaking Jack's records anymore, but the media was all over it for over a decade. Every move Tiger made was replayed over and over. Now he's all but done. A Hall of Famer, yes. The greatest of all-time, not even close.

Many continue to say Muhammed Ali was the "greatest" in boxing, as the former Cassius Clay was fond of proclaiming himself.  But even disregarding the beatdowns he absorbed as an aging fighter, he lost to Joe Frazier, was thoroughly thumped by Ken Norton, and even got whupped by Leon Spinks during his supposed prime. LEON SPINKS!!  This is hardly the resume of someone that should be considered the greatest.

Baseball has it's "greatest" arguments in every phase of the game. Best hitter, most home runs, best starting pitcher, etc., etc. There is no definitive answer, only fodder for even more worthless stat monsters every time some guy comes along and gets on a hot streak for a while.

The latest is one Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Already there are whispers that he could become the "greatest". It truly is laughable.

In pro basketball, Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest of all time, and he was a terrific player indeed. But everything MJ could do, a guy named Lebron can do better these days -- and more. Ah, but what about all those titles? Truth is, championships are vastly overrated when it comes to any particular player.

Gretzky wouldn't have won those Stanley Cups without a highly skilled team around him. Same with Bill Russell and the 50's-60's Celtics. He had some serious help. Ditto for Jordan and the Bulls of the 90's. Put Michael on a last place team, and he wins ZERO titles. Lebron had to leave Cleveland to team up with D-Wade, Bosh, and company in Miami to get a couple rings. Add in Magic Johnson and besides Kareem, the showtime Laker squad he had around him. Bird needed Parish and Mchale.

The list is long in various sports of how one player is glorified for his greatness, but likely wouldn't have won squat without a terrific supporting cast. Sure, all these players were very good in their own right, but titles should not, repeat NOT define greatness. Ernie Banks, anyone? Yet that misleading stat persists to this day courtesy of the talking heads and other media.

Right now, Steph Curry and the Warriors are riding the hottest of streaks. They seem almost invincible. Besides being defending world champions, they've started off this season 23-0, and lately won their first 5 games of a 7 game road trip. No team has ever swept a 7 game road trip before in the NBA. Only the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks stand in the way of this sweep being completed. The Beaners are a little better than average and the Beertowners not so good. It's entirely possible, perhaps likely, the Warriors return home 25-0 to start a home stand. And good luck beating these guys on their home court.

Nevertheless, now the chatter has turned to Curry and his "all-time" possibilities. Granted, he's a superb ball handler with various spectacular moves and can shoot the lights out with eye-popping shots that catch nothing but net from all over the court at times. Very impressive stuff indeed.

At least in the modern era. But there was another guy that could do everything Steph Curry is doing these days decades ago, if not more, and was quite the showman himself.

Enter the late Pistol Pete Maravich. I'm thinking in a game of one on one (or "horse") in their primes, Maravich would take Curry all day long every time. But PP didn't have the supporting cast when he played in the NBA that SC currently enjoys. A difference -- a big one.

This is not to say Steph Curry isn't a tremendous talent. He most certainly is. But even mentioning him in the conversation of the "greatest of all time" is ludicrous. He can dribble and shoot with the best of them, but ask yourself this question: Do you think the Cavs would trade Lebron for him even up, even though James is four years older? Would the New Orleans Pelicans give up Anthony Davis? How about the lowly Pistons? They have a big guy named Andre Drummond. AD might only score 15 a game, but he'll haul down 15 rebounds and block a few shots as well. No way would the Pistons swap him for Curry.

Right now, Stephen Curry is in the exact right place, at the exact right time, to compliment the exact right team with his skills. Obviously, it's working out in a magnificent way so far this year. 23-0 is 23-0. And this Warrior team has a legitimate shot at posting the best single season record ever in the history of the NBA. That's a lot of history and would finally give the meth-heads, AKA sports announcers something worthwhile to rant about.

But the greatest of all time?

Please. Give Steph and the Warriors a couple years until free agency (see shameless greed) and the salary cap hammers hit them over their collective heads, and the hot-shot kid from Davidson and this Warrior team will be little more than a footnote in history.

But for now, rock on. It's fun to watch a team on such a roll that has a chance at history.

And keep a healthy supply of industrial strength Xanax on hand just in case they actually pull it off.

No, not for the players of course. For the talking heads. They will definitely need to be heavily medicated if something truly noteworthy really occurs in the world of sports -- lest they spontaneously combust in their utter rapture -- though that would be interesting indeed to watch in high-def on TV. And OMG, the replays in slo-mo. Priceless. Way better than watching Tiger eat a banana......

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