Earlier this year, former Blue Devil JJ Redick seemed to mock Bob Cousy’s game, something that didn’t go over well with older players and people who see themselves as guardians of the game.
Earlier this week, Redick stirred up another controversy when he suggested that Larry Bird wasn’t that great a three-point shooter. He also tried to compare Bird to Steph Curry as a shooter, which also hasn’t gone over well with a lot of people, including Bird’s old rival Dominique Wilkins.
First there’s the standard disclaimer: the game has changed and comparing people of different eras is foolish if not impossible. Bird was really the first NBA player to use the three as a serious strategic weapon. And at 6-10, he also spent time in the lane and around the basket. He just didn’t shoot as many threes as Curry does. No one did.
Beyond that though, Redick compared the physicality of how Curry is guarded. However, he didn’t go into the way, say, the way Bill Laimbeer or Dennis Rodman guarded Bird.
There are a couple of other differences too.
Curry worries everyone but Bird terrified people. He literally would tell guys what he was going to do, daring them to stop him, and then laugh in their faces when they couldn’t. Famously, Bird asked his rivals in the NBA’s Three Point Competition “who’s playing for second?” At one point in 1986 he got bored and played an entire game against Portland left-handed.
He scored 47 points.
There’s no question that Curry is a Hall of Fame player who changed the game, and certainly no question that he’s a great shooter and also no worse than the second-best ballhandler in the game’s history, behind only Kyrie Irving. But if you ask most people who have seen them both in their prime, you’ll find out that there are a lot of stories of Bird winning games with last second shots. Curry has done it too, but not on the same level and generally from outside. Bird was a freak in the clutch, inside, outside or on defense.