BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Stephen Curry made history Tuesday night on a fittingly big stage.
He passed Hall of Famer Ray Allen as the all-time leader in 3-pointers by knocking down 2,974th of his career with seven minutes 33 seconds left in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. That 3-pointer was a 28-footer off a pass from Andrew Wiggins. It took 789 games for Curry to make history.
Not only did he achieve his moment at the Garden, but he celebrated a Warriors’ 105-95 victory over the Knicks just for desserts.
A basketball wonk and a basketball fanatic just knew there was no way he was going to make history at Indiana on Monday night. It just made sense for him to do in New York at Madison Square Garden.
No question it had to hurt Knicks owner James Dolan since he can only think of what could have been if Curry was a Knick.
In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Knicks lusted for Curry based on his shooting powress. They planned to make him the centerpiece of Mike D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less offense. They hoped he would be the new franchise player that would them to new heights, including winning a championship.
The Knicks had the No. 8 pick at the time. The stars were aligned for them to get their guy after the Minnesota Timberwolves foolishly drafted Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn as the No. 5 and No. 6 pick respectively. But then came the heartbreak. Just like it always is with this tortured franchise.
Don Nelson had the Warriors draft Curry at No. 7, and the Knicks settled for a booby prize in Jordan Hill, who only played a forgettable 24 games before he was traded to the Houston Rockets as a mercy trade. Hill is no longer in the NBA after playing 409 uneventful games in his career.
Make no mistake. Nelson knew exactly what he was doing in drafting Curry. It was a chance to stick it to the Knicks after they fired him despite 59 games in his first season. The Warriors had no need for Curry at the time since they boasted plenty of good shooters in Monta Ellis, Jamal Crawford, C.J. Watson and Anthony Morrow at the time. They needed a guy who can play defense and bring some toughness to a raw roster, not Curry.
This was made out of spite by Nelson. It’s hard to believe he would know how good Curry was at the time. If he actually did, he would have traded Ellis to the Knicks. Of course, that’s another reason why he was out to stick it to the Knicks by not even giving them Ellis. He did not bother trading down with the Knicks or even giving up Ellis. He made sure he was not doing the Knicks any favors.
If anyone thinks this is an overreaction, the NBA fan does not know then how Nelson operates. He holds grudges, and he will do anything out of spite. Just ask John Starks, Chris Webber, Patrick Ewing and Mark Cuban. No one can tell me differently what Nellie did that night.
It’s hard to think Nellie thought Curry would be this good. No one did. Sure he was going to be a productive NBA player like his brother Seth Curry, but to the player, he has been? It was hard to believe.
He punched his ticket to the NBA Hall of Fame a long time ago. His play put him in the greatness stratosphere for a long time now. He will hit the 3,000th mark for 3-pointers in due time. Can he play long enough to get to 4,000? That should be the question. Can he do this into his late thirties to forties? That’s the only question left for him.
Curry’s place in fame could only make Knicks fans wonder what could have been if Nelson did not draft him out of spite. If he was a Knick, LeBron James or some superstar comes in, and maybe the championship drought ends. Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni would still be around and be credited for this franchise turnaround. We certainly wouldn’t see Phil Jackson stealing money from this Knicks franchise to do nothing. The Knicks would not be selling hope. They would not be the dysfunctional franchise that they have been for most of James Dolan’s horrid tenure as Knicks owner.
With this Knicks franchise, it has been more of what-ifs or what could have been whether it’s what if Pat Riley stayed or what if Charles Smith finally put the ball in the bucket against the Bulls or Patrick Ewing finishing off the finger roll against the Pacers.
You can add Curry to the list.