Golden StateWarriors

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson changed game like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen


Editor's Note: Over the next week, NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports Chicago will try to settle the debate about who is the best NBA team of all time: the 2016-17 Warriors or the 1995-96 Bulls. Check out for the Bulls perspective.

NBA dominance usually is acquired in tandem. From Magic and Kareem to Kobe and Shaq the road to titles seldom has been walked alone.

In the case of the Warriors' Splash Brothers duo vs. the Chicago Bulls' one-two punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the matchup is especially historic. Between the quadrant, there have been seven MVP trophies and, most importantly, nine titles.

While the paths of the respective duos to greatness were different, each helped revolutionize the game in their quest for glory.

Curry and Thompson's NBA treks were similar. Each are sons of the NBA of yesteryear. Thompson, son of longtime Lakers role player Mychal Thompson, grew up meeting his childhood idols. In 1998, Thompson even arranged a postgame meetup with Jordan. Thompson later starred at Washington State before getting drafted 11th by the Warriors in 2011. Curry, son of former sharpshooter Dell Curry, also grew up in the NBA orbit, frequently joining his father in pregame shooting drills, getting a first-hand layout of how the league operates.

Pippen and Jordan weren't as fortunate in their upbringings. Pippen grew up in Arkansas as the youngest of 12 children, later playing for the NAIA's University of Central Arkansas. Jordan was raised in North Carolina. As a sophomore at Laney High School, Jordan was cut from the varsity squad. Nonetheless, he earned a scholarship to North Carolina, playing three years under coach Dean Smith before heading to the NBA.

Listen and subscribe to the Runnin' Plays Podcast:

The duo's games were just as different.

Thompson and Curry revolutionized the game with the 3-point shot. Thompson's scoring binges are legendary, highlighted by unconscious shooting displays. His most famous came in 2017 when he scored 60 points in three quarters. Curry's binges are just as lethal and his scoring bursts have rewritten the 3-point record books, helping the Warriors win three titles in five seasons. Along the way, Curry revolutionized how offenses play, prompting the league to value the 3-point shot and focus on pace and space offense.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Pippen overwhelmed teams with their two-way games. Arguably, the best player of all-time, Jordan could score 50 points in a game while guarding the opponent's best player. Following the 1987-88 season, Jordan earned the league's Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 35.0 points per game. Pippen was the perfect complement to His Airness, helping MJ defensively while becoming a dependable scorer. When Jordan retired in 1993, Pippen averaged 22 points the following season, helping the Bulls to reach the second round of the playoffs.

[RELATED: Draymond, Rodman cut from same cloth]

A matchup between the two duos will be tricky. Thompson and Curry are able to thrive against defensive strategies that outlawed hand-checking, a strategy Pippen and Jordan used to perfection. Under the current structure, Thompson and Curry would be free to roam and get to their spots. Under 90s defensive rules, Jordan and Pippen would be able to rough up the Golden State tandem, using the physicality that would typically lead to fouls in today's game.

But the showdown would pair the best of the NBA's greatest eras. A chance to see the grittiness of the 90s against the offensive brilliance created by the Splash Brothers. By the end of the game, the biggest winner will be the folks in attendance to watch it.

Contact Us