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Monday, June 14, 2021
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Pages: Steph-back three

Match Point

WARDELL Stephen Curry II is the hardest human being to guard on Planet Earth. Joe Biden may be the US President and he’s surrounded by the Secret Service; Vladimir Putin employs the modern-day KGB called SBP — but Steph Curry is even more unguardable.

As soon as “30” crosses that halfcourt line, the enemy patrol guards are deployed to congregate around him. Curry springs forward, dribbles between-the-legs, skips to his right, bounces to his left. The defense swarms him. Like a snake, he slivers in and out of the 6-foot-5 enemy, galloping to hop forward before whisking two steps backward — tripping the opponent — before he unleashes the most difficult-to-guard move in the NBA: the Steph-back three.

Swish!

The Spalding orange leather ball floats through space and slices through the net, avoiding contact with the 18-inch steel rim. Curry smiles, sways and shimmies; he pumps his chest once, then points to the ceiling with his index finger.

The NBA’s 3-point distance is between 22 to 23 feet (depending on the court position). But because Curry’s jersey number is “30,” he prefers to catapult that lob 30 feet away. To him, it’s all a shooting exhibition. Without care, he simply catapults the ball up and, magically, it always finds the hole.

Swish!

Prior to every game against Golden State, the opposing team’s coaching staff spend the longest time analyzing how they’ll double team Mr. Curry. Nothing works. He toys with the opposition. As the defender draws near, he shuffles his feet, dances the tango and waltzes around the befuddled man. He fakes a pass as the chaperone gets fooled. Never mind the outstretched hand that’s covering his face and eyes, his barrages of long-range, 30-feet-away missiles hit the target.

Steph Curry shooting threes is like others shooting free throws. It’s that effortless and easy for this Warrior. On free throws, while chewing either the MOGO M1 or Under Armour flavored mouthguards, Curry is shooting 92 percent this season. His lifetime average is 90.7 percent.

How about his catch-and-shoot? In a millisecond, shorter than it takes for the opponent to blink, he’s able to flick that wrist as the ball is hurled high, high up in the air..

Swish!

Curry’s teammates sometimes employ the “Elevator Door Screen,” a move so brilliant (two of his teammates close the opening and disallow “entry”) that it makes the NBA announcers scream and go berserk.

SC30 is now on his 12th season. The 33-year-old, two-time NBA MVP hails from Akron, Ohio. He and LeBron James were not only born in the same city but also in the same hospital: Akron General Medical Center.

Curry did the unthinkable last month. He made three points after three points... 96 in total. (This broke the previous record of 82 set by James Harden.) Given that GSW played 15 games last month, that’s an average of 6.4 three-pointers per game. In one five-game stretch, he shot 10-11-4-11-10 three-pointers. In April, he averaged 47.6 percent from beyond the arc. This, despite being as heavily guarded as Biden or Putin.


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