STEPHEN CURRY AND JAMES HARDEN ARE CHANGING EVERYTHING

Imagine knowing what you know now, and you had a time machine that allowed you to go back and  watch the Beatles before they really hit their stride. Imagine witnessing Michael Jordan when he really started to turn the corner, or being there when that first airplane went up into the air…Can you imagine seeing a game changer happen right before your eyes?

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about changing the game, but I rarely see someone actually do it. I don’t care what we’re talking about. When it comes to basketball, I always wonder what’s next? How can we create new stuff, new strategies, new moves, for a sport that was been around since the early 1900s?

I mean so many people have played this sport, how much more can we come up with. With that said, I’ve watched a lot of basketball my whole life, and paid special attention to it over the last 4 years. I’ve watched more (Full) games than I can count and it made me sure of one thing. There are two players that play in the NBA that have given me something I’ve never seen before and it’s led me to believe that they are changing in a way I’ve never seen before. Their names are Stephen Curry and James Harden.

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First allow me to explain this, I grew up on Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.  In my opinion these guys are 100 percent game changers. Michael Jordan had guys hanging from monkey bars trying to grow, going to the basket with their tongue hanging out their mouth, wishing they could fly, had people of all color singing “I wanna be like Mike”and anytime they hit more than one 3 they would do the famous shoulder shrug. 

To take it a step further, people started wearing baggy shorts and didn’t know why?  “His AIRNESS” the originator. When Mike  entered the NBA he would wear his UNC shorts underneath the tight fitting Bulls shorts (Short shorts were what everyone wore at the time). He requested some longer, loose fitting shorts so the other pair would fit comfortably. Little did he know that he would set a new trend for players across the world. Even Kobe. Kobe wore his Lower Merion shorts underneath his Laker shorts.

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This isn’t even to mention the impact Jordan had on the shoe game. Lol I’ll save that one for another post.

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Kobe on the other hand, He was more of a duplicate of Jordan. It was very easy to see that Jordan had a strong influence on him. From the fadeaways, to the elevation he got on his jumper, to how hard he worked. As much as he was a duplicate, he was an innovator also. Kobe doesn’t get enough credit for how he made working out cool. He loved basketball so much he gave everything he had to his development and became a legend because of it. 

Quick story: I went to school with Allen Crabbe. He was in 8th grade when I was a senior in high school. I remember everyday after school my varsity team would go to the gym and hoop…3 on 3…5 on 5…didn’t matter. Every now and then this little kid, with these huge ears, long arms would come into the gym with what I believe was his trainer and put up shots (Crabbe). I remember it like it was yesterday, my friend Lamont came to me and said, “bro what is Allen doing?, he needs to come over here and hoop with us. Thats how he’s going to be real good. All that working out ain’t gonna help nothing”. I too, like so many other people thought working out by yourself was stupid. How can you get better by yourself when you don’t play by yourself. It’s needless to say how the rest of that story turned out lol. Allen is in the NBA and I’m at home writing about him.

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But it goes to show how Kobe changed my mind about it and so many others. When you see people working out on Instagram, make sure you give some credit to Kobe just like you do the no look pass with Magic.

With all that said, I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone else change the game in the way that Steph Curry and James Harden are doing right now. Not even Lebron….but lets talk about why.

See, Lebron is a freak of nature. Maybe one of the best athletes ever, but he does stuff that most of us know we can’t do. A lot of us aren’t 6”8, stronger than most people in the world and we can’t fly through the air, or drop dimes like Lebron…. But Steph??! When I saw Steph I was surprised because he doesn’t look like your average NBA/MVP Player. Same vibe that I got when I met Steve Nash.

I want you to look at this clip and tell me you’ve seen this happen before. And if so, how many times has it happened with that same player?

I can go over all that analytics crap,  which would argue Steph is one of the best offensive players ever, but the film does more for me. So the defense decides to completely forget about the ball handler on a fast break, to run outside the paint and prevent Curry from shooting a three pointer. Just give up a wide open dunk??

I’ve been watching the warriors every game since Curry got in the league, and Ive seen this around 50 times. Logically it makes no sense, give up   the highest percentage shot in the game (dunk), for a lower percentage shot (3 pointer)

But let’s not stop there, let’s stay on the fast break.

When I grew up in high school it was VERY rare to play on a team where a coach was okay with you shooting a 3 pointer on a fast break, but Curry shoots them like a lay up.

But we all know how well Curry can shoot right? There’s a thing going around saying Curry can’t pass, and I’m guessing what people are ultimately saying is, he doesn’t make his team better… other than shooting the ball. Take a look at how easy people score because he’s on the floor.

For those of you that understand what I’m showing, this is crazy right?

My favorite thing to hear is how people say, Jordan and Pippen would lock him up. I won’t discredit what Jordan and Pippen can do defensively. I’ve seen plenty of people give Curry a hard time, players like Avery Bradley, but dude still will run off 40. What makes me sure that Jordan or Pippen wouldn’t lock Curry up is because of the fatigue factor. When talking about Curry, I never hear how he may be one of the most in shape athletes to play the game. It’s guarding a player who runs around all the time, whether it’s running around screens off ball, around a pick and roll, or chasing him down in transition, the guy is always running. But to add to it, you got guys who ride with Curry. They set screens (legally and illegally the whole game). Normally the thing to say is, “ you got to be physical with him”. Let’s take a look at one of the best/toughest point guards ever, being physical with Curry.

This is no disrespect to guys like Jordan, but the legend always becomes greater after the player stops playing. Jordan is probably the best to ever play in my opinion but he WAS NOT a god. He would tire out a little having to chase this guy around everywhere and then carrying the scoring load. But hey that’s just my opinion right?

Ultimately, its the spacing that Curry creates for his team that makes others great. It even helped KD shoot more efficiently and score easier. 

Wait a minute, I’m forgetting one thing that I’ve seen with him that I’ve never seen, the crowd he draws with a warm up.

I started going to the games before the Warriors started winning and I remember seeing Curry come out and warm up. I thought to myself, what in the world is he doing lol. Taking shots he wasn’t going to shoot in the game, then actually shooting shots he was going to shoot in the game, the two ball handling drills. Shooting from the tunnel, bouncing the ball off his head to himself then pulling a fadeaway three, Who does this?! Then he wins a MVP award and everybody is showing up an hour before just to watch what it takes to be as great as he is. It’s such a weird phenomenon. 

Lastly, I think it’s just fun watching how much fun and joy he brings to the game. I love how different he is than Kobe (whom I idolized growing up). Some can’t stand all the high kicks and running around that he does, but he does put it out there that it’s okay to run around and have fun. 

But lets talk about a player who on many occasions almost ruined Steph’s fun, THE WIZARD OF DRAWING FOULS……JAMES HARDEN

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I’ll make this short and sweet. See James is a guy who I believe can play in any era for a lot of reasons. Who remembers when he came into the league and everyone was calling him the poor mans Ginobli??  He’s strong, physical, can shoot, can pass, super high IQ, and just look at this guys ISO game.

But we’ve seen players who can do all this type of stuff. What actually makes him so special from everyone else??? Well let me ask you this, who in the history of basketball has ever been this good at drawing fouls???

He’s so good at it, people don’t like him. It’s to the point where referees are forced to call fouls. I got a chance to catch up with a NBA ref and he told me that they’ve had meetings where they’ve viewed the clips in slow motion and decided that they are clear fouls. Guys trying to strip the ball while he’s going to the basket, or reaching out to slow him down on screens. 

A few months ago, I competed in a foot locker 3 on 3 invitational where a bunch of social media influencers, trainers, and a few NBA guys came out to compete tournament style. James Harden pulled up, and I had to ask, “ Bruh, how do you draw fouls like that, like how do you know when to do it.” 

“Oh, I don’t really know, you just got to feel it I guess…I just do it”.

I teach guys to play basketball so obviously I was looking for a better explanation. It reminded me of when I was a kid and asked Baron Davis what he looked for when he crossed the ball over…..I’ll never forget it.

“I just act like I’m going to drive,  put the ball out and then switch hands.”

LOL In my head I’m like man that’s the best advice you got for me??? I’m trying to get the best handle ever. But maybe some things in this world are really that simple. Normal people try to make things harder than what they are. Think about it, Reality TV. They got some people together, found some cameras, put together a loose script, and acted like the drama was real. Someone left juice on the porch too long and it was cold outside and the popsicle was born. Naismith decided to make a game where you throw a rubber ball into a 10ft basket. So many of us could have thought of this stuff if we came first. Which is exactly what Harden and Curry are doing. 

I’m not saying that they changed the game more than Michael and all the other guys before them, but they are doing it in their own way. From kids airmailing or splashing a 30 foot three, to them going to the basket and trying to draw a foul. They’re special, they’re innovators, and they game will go down in History for it. And just as Mike and Kobe’s time has passed, so will theirs so I suggest that we appreciate history in the making.

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