If you’ve followed the NBA over the last few months, you know there’s been a lot of discussion about Steph Curry’s legacy, dominance and general placement (and position) in the halls of legends. There’s no discussion that Curry is one of the game’s greatest players, but many argue that the 6-2 guard is often underappreciated when it comes to
Keep in mind that this is the case even though he is considered the league’s best shooter in the history of the league and owns every three point record there is to be had (save for one). Steph has been the bus driver of four NBA Championship teams, a two-time league MVP for the league, and was recently named as the Finals MVP when the Golden State Warriors won their fourth NBA title during the Curry era.
Let’s keep going. Steph has led the league in scoring twice (2016, 2021), is an 8× NBA All-Star and was named the All-Star Game MVP in 2022 when he hit 16 threes in that game. He’s been named to the All NBA Team eight times; half of which were the All-NBA First Team.
Even with all these championships, record, career accomplishments and awards somehow Curry isn’t considered in the same tier as fellow superstars he’s playing with. Yes, he’ll be named in the same breath, but when it comes to giving Curry the title as the league’s best player, his name isn’t mentioned.
A recent Dubs Talk podcast talked about this phenomenon, but failed to really grasp the historical definition of dominance and how that colors our lenses when it comes to dominant NBA players.
Dominance Is Saved For The Giants
There’s really one answer as to why Curry isn’t often considered “dominant” or “unstoppable” even though he continues to prove otherwise and his Warriors teams often have the best odds at captain cooks casinos. It boils down to the simple fact that Curry isn’t a physical force of nature. At 6 foot 2 and weighing approximately 185lbs, his size is not uncommon among us regular folk. Curry’s stature doesn’t intimidate as his peers do. It’s really that simple.
When we talk about a player being “dominant“, we think of players like physical specimens like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal using their size of strength, size and speed to overwhelm their opponents. When we think of players that are unstoppable, we think of Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, Luka Doncic and Kobe Bryant, players that are not only skilled, but also have combination of athleticism, strength, size and well, taller than 6-6.
Steph’s domination is part style too. His impact on the game comes from 25 feet away, not bullying opponents near the basket and dunking on them. Even when Curry does dunk, it’s not very intimidating. Put another way, domination isn’t reserved for the NBA’s smaller perimeter players because we mostly associate domination with physical attributes, masculinity and acts of aggression. That’s why we often don’t hear about women being described as dominant. Historically, dominance has been assigned to males, and thus is seen as a masculine trait.
Taking it a step further. If dominance is about physical attributes then we often assume that dominant person is bigger, taller, stronger, more aggressive, even hairier. In the NBA, Steph Curry is none of those adjectives.
The positive side of Curry’s 6-2 “regular person” stature is that he’s a much more relatable player and that helps craft this reputation that he’s a nice guy. Along with his successes on court, that relatable-ness has helped him sell the most jerseys on multiple occasions.
There’s more good news for Curry. Shaq, one of the unquestioned most-dominant players in the history of the league, recently called Curry “the best player in the world.” Best? Okay, that’s not dominant, but it’s a step.