When Stephen Curry becomes the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, an event likely to happen this month, there will be no sadness from the man he supplants. Not the slightest iota of retired-player bitterness over being erased from the record book.
If Hall of Famer Ray Allen sheds even a fraction of a tear, it will be out of appreciation for the person that Curry is and the feat that he will have accomplished.
“I’m happy for him and his family because it’s something that you get to say that you did, something that you accomplished,” Allen said Wednesday. “In your time playing in this league, with all the great players that have come, you get to say that I was one of the best, if not the best, to ever do it.”
With 2,940 3-pointers in his career, Curry needs 34 to surpass Allen (2,973), who played 18 years in the NBA, a career that spans from the last six years of Dell Curry’s career to the first five years of Stephen’s NBA journey.
It was during the 1998-99 season that Allen got to know the Curry family. That was Dell’s lone season in Milwaukee, where Ray was a budding All-Star. Dell was his vet. They’d sit on the bus together, and Ray recalls conversations Dell had with his family. Curry’s sons, Stephen and Seth, were regulars at the Bucks’ facility.
“Steph used to come into Milwaukee when he was younger, him and Seth,” Allen recalled. “And (Bucks coach) George Karl used to let them participate in shootaround. So, they’d come and we’d go through drills and they’d be right there with us. And they’d hold their own.”
Recalling their time as teammates and opponents, Allen described Dell Curry as “the best shooter that I’d ever seen.” Just as he had great respect for the gifts of the father, Allen also has great respect for that of the son.
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Nowadays, the relationship between Allen and the Currys is renewed largely on golf courses across America. Ray and Steph clear their schedules to play a couple times each year, most recently in September.
When you’ve known and enjoyed the presence of someone for most of their life and competed against them, as Ray and Stephen, there forms a bond that goes beyond the shared ability to shoot the basketball.
Yet Ray always has monitored Stephen’s career. He has seen the development, physically and statistically, and is quick to note that Curry is a more complete offensive threat than either he or fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, whom Stephen last season bumped to No. 3 on the career list of 3-pointers made.
“People have compared him to myself and to Reggie and to other past shooters, great shooters, in the NBA,” Allen said. “But he really – and I’ve said this before – he really operates somewhat in a lane of his own.”
Curry’s skills have had a massive impact on the game. Even in the seven years since Allen retired, the game of basketball has undergone considerable change. The 3-point shot, a novelty at the beginning of Allen’s career and a considerable force by the end, has become the primary offensive weapon and a staple of success. At every level.
That’s the Curry effect.
“This is not about what I decide or how I feel,” Allen said. “I’m just proud and happy that he has done the job of playing in this league and creating young people and a great fan base where he is continually pushing the narrative of what great basketball looks like and set the bar. A different bar.”
Allen, 46, is coaching basketball at Gulliver Prep in the Miami suburb of Pinecrest, where one of his sons is a member of the team. Though he said he would like to be in the arena when his record falls to Curry, coaching duties likely will prevent that.
From wherever he might be, coaching won’t keep Allen from applauding the moment.
“I love Steph because he’s a great dude,” he said. “He’s a good person. He’s a great family man. I always say that when you watch any sport, you celebrate and cheer for those that you know are good people and you want to see succeed and win.
“It’s hard not to root for Steph. It’s hard not to understand where he comes from and who he is. To be able to see him and celebrate him, it’s not a stretch at all. I’m just happy for him and his family. I’ve known them for forever.”
Hearing Allen speak about his relationship with the Currys, one gets the sense that the retired star in some way feels that seeing his record transferred to the hands of Stephen keeps it in the family.