Steph Curry

Steph Curry reveals three NBA icons he wishes he could've played with

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  • Programming note: Watch Monte Poole and Dalton Johnson's wide-ranging interview with Warriors superstar Steph Curry in the latest episode of "Dubs Talk," which will debut Saturday at 4 p.m., before "Warriors Pregame Live," and air again after "Dubs Talk Live" on NBC Sports Bay Area.

How Steph Curry answered the question says everything about who he is as both a basketball player and person alike.

Never mistake Curry’s smile and childish joy for a lack of competitiveness. The Warriors superstar will grab an opponent’s heart straight from his chest and toss it in a to-go bag, à la an angry Lloyd Christmas, if challenged to do so. Curry also invites greatness.

He welcomes it, and feeds off it as well.

That’s been the case for the last decade of sharing the court alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. And the same goes for his three seasons as teammates with Kevin Durant, and the special bond that grew between him and Andre Iguodala for eight seasons.

So it was no surprise that when asked which player in NBA history Curry wishes he could have been on the same court with, he chose three, and decided on them being teammates instead of foes.

"My top three, obviously [Michael] Jordan, [Shaquille O'Neal] and I’d probably say Hakeem Olajuwon,” Curry said to NBC Sports Bay Area in the latest “Dubs Talk” episode. “I'd like to play with all three of those guys, because I think with Jordan, we all just want to see it up close and personal. And then I think pick-and-roll with me and Hakeem or me and Shaq would be pretty much unstoppable."

Starting in order, Curry’s first choice is what everyone would want to see. Home or away, arenas would be filled with No. 30 Curry jerseys and No. 23 Jordan jerseys. Everybody wanted to be like Mike in the ‘80s and ‘90s, soaring through the air with their tongue out and a highlight dunk waiting to happen.

Now it’s Curry who influences fans of all sizes, colors, ages and genders. He’s the relatable star who the Warriors, and the NBA as a whole, can count their blessings for representing the game. There’s no real emulation of how Curry changed basketball behind the 3-point line, but dreaming of doing so at least feels more attainable at a local park than taking off from the free-throw line for a dunk like Jordan.

Plus, Curry’s greatest power is the one that Jordan’s repertoire lacked, though the game of course was much different in his 15 NBA seasons. Jordan was a 32.7 percent 3-point shooter for his career. The lowest Curry has shot from deep for a full season in his career is 38.0 percent in his age-33 season, making the two a perfect backcourt balance for each other.

And then there’s a world where Curry is running pick-and-rolls with Olajuwon or O’Neal. There aren’t any other words needed except for the one that Curry chose: Unstoppable.

But if Curry could step into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and crank it to 88 mph, would he rather be a high-flyer like MJ or physically dominant like Shaq?

Initially he needed a moment to think. Curry hasn’t dunked in a game since Feb. 21, 2019, in a two-point win over the Sacramento Kings. The greatest shooter of all time only has 26 career dunks. If he’s going to throw it down in a different world, however, he would do so with authority.

"Probably physically dominating,” Curry said. “It's just such the opposite of my experience on the court. I've dunked a couple of times, but like to have somebody like, (Curry smacks his right hand down to his left), they call it 'Mouse in the House' and you can just post up and understand as soon as I catch it, this guy behind me has no chance.

"That'd be an out-of-body experience, for sure. So I've seen the Shaq highlights, I want to break some backboards every once in a while. That'd be fun."

One can only imagine a world where Curry shared the court with any of the three, or even reached in and stole a skill from their respective bags. For now, at 35 years old, he still possesses superpowers that even Michael, Shaq and Hakeem didn’t have and can dream of themselves.

It’s fun to think about, but really, Curry has continued to add boosts to his building blocks since he first put on a Warriors jersey, allowing himself to be in the same all-time conversations of the three he can imagine painting a masterpiece with on the hardwood.

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