Don't get it twisted. This era of NBA basketball belongs to Stephen Curry

Four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry wins his first-ever Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics in six games.

On April 2, 2021, the Golden State Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors by 53 points. At the time, it seemed like the last body blow after the Raptors snatched their championship crown in 2019. The dynasty over. Stephen Curry’s time as the poster boy for the league elapsed. Yet, here we are 14 months later, and the Warriors are NBA champions once again.

The Curry-led Warriors are now the first team in NBA history to go from worst to first in three seasons, and the first team to win four championships in an eight-season span since the Chicago Bulls won six from 1991 to '98.

There are many reasons for the bounce back, but the pivotal one is the sustained success of Wardell Stephen Curry. As Curry thrived in the championship limelight once again, he reaffirmed something that is self-evident when you dive deep into the numbers: this is the Stephen Curry era. Yes, even above LeBron James.

Before you head straight to the comment section, that doesn’t mean he’s by default a better player than James. But Curry certainly has defined this era of basketball with the way he has left his imprint on the game, and no matter what list of all-time greats you curate, his name has to be on it.

When Seth Curry hugged his older brother on the parquet floor in Boston, the first thing he screamed was “what are they going to say now?” It became the common refrain as the Warriors celebrated throughout the night. The answer is we need to give Curry his flowers, because he dispelled the tired arguments that have been used to invalidate his place among the all-time greats.

The knock on Curry was about his post-season and Finals resume, but that is actually when he’s done his best work compared to the other all-time greats.

Before these Finals, his career average was 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. So, the notion he needed to have a great Finals this year to change his legacy is fake news.

In any case, the Finals stage wasn’t too big once again this year as he averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.2 threes, shooting an efficient .482/.437/.857 — which made for a stellar 62.6 true-shooting percentage. Remember, he put this up on the No. 1 ranked defence while being guarded by the defensive player of the year. And the Warriors' offensive rating these Finals? 115.8 with Curry on the floor, 88.6 off it.

The 2022 playoffs were not an anomaly. Curry has a higher true-shooting percentage in the Finals than James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

Another knock on him was he wasn’t clutch enough compared to his big-game teammates. Well, Curry has the most playoff field goals made in the clutch since 2012-13.

In fact, Curry shines brightest in title-clinching wins: his 32.5 career points-per-game in title-clinchers is second all-time, trailing only Jordan.

Don’t let his birth certificate reading 34 years of age fool you, he is in a prime position to extend his reign. Curry is now the second-oldest player to produce 40 points and 10 rebounds in a Finals game.

And this is Curry’s most decorated year ever. He broke the all-time three-point record and won: an All-Star MVP, Western Conference Finals MVP, World Championship and Finals MVP all in one year.

And as he continues to accrue accolades, he continues to join exclusive lists with only the best to ever do it. Curry is the:

• Fifth player to win two MVPs, a Finals MVP and a scoring title.
• Sixth player in NBA history with four rings, multiple league MVPs, and a Finals MVP, joining James, Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan.
• Seventh player to win four titles and two MVPs.
• 11th player in NBA history to be named MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP.

The Finals MVP was a long-time coming. Curry scored 3,570 career playoff points before securing his first — only Bryant (4,381 points) scored more before receiving the award, and Bryant’s legacy was never an ongoing referendum the way Curry's is.

While the Finals MVP adds to his resume, it wasn’t needed to coronate him because he was already an eight-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA player, two-time MVP and two-time scoring leader.

Simply put, he’s been the best player on the best team of this era during one of the best runs of all time. His 93-41 career record in playoff games is better than any other MVP in history. Curry is also 22-4 in playoff series, and unlike Jordan and James, he’s never been swept and never even lost in five games, losing twice in seven and twice in six.

And it’s not just that he’s won, he’s gone head-to-head with his contemporaries and consistently come out on top.

In the playoffs, he’s beaten James, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard — several of the signature players in his era. During these playoffs, he went through Nikola Jokic, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum — many of the game's young stars looking to take the throne.

In a game where giants historically dominate, Curry represents a new day where David can beat Goliath. Curry is just the third six-foot-two player to win Finals MVP, joining Tony Parker and Isiah Thomas.

Remember the notions that you couldn’t win with a small point guard being your best player? Or jump shooting teams couldn’t win? These were NBA conversations we gave credence to 10 years ago that seem so foolish now because Curry has proven otherwise.

But the biggest reason Curry stands above is he’s a vanguard. No player currently and arguably ever has solely changed the style of play the way Curry has. In 2013-14, only three players put up 524 three-point field goal attempts — unsurprisingly, Curry and his splash brother teammate Klay Thompson were two of them. In 2021-2022, there were 20.

He’s the heliocentric force that everything on the floor, in his organization and in the league orbits around.

We often frame the discussion around: which of the all-time greats would you take off the NBA's Mount Rushmore to add Curry? Instead, let’s reverse engineer the question: who has more of an influence on the style of play and a monopoly of the championships in his era than Curry?

And yes, top-10, top-five, wherever you draw the line, he’s in that class. It’s not a reach to say it. Curry’s game-changing play and consistent winning say it all. This is the Stephen Curry era, so once and for all let’s enjoy it instead of reaching for reasons to think otherwise.

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