Bill Simmons Moves Stephen Curry Ahead of 6 NBA Greats and Into the Top 10 of His NBA ‘Pantheon’

Sports media mogul Bill Simmons of The Ringer has his fair share of hot takes and out-there theories on sports. He can also be an obnoxious Boston homer. However, he did write one of the definitive books on basketball history (The Book of Basketball). So, his takes on professional basketball’s past, present, and future can’t be ignored. That’s why it’s so noteworthy that after the Golden State Warriors won the 2021-22 NBA title, Simmons now has Stephen Curry in his all-time top 10 “pantheon” of NBA superstars.

Stephen Curry is one of the best NBA players of all time

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors speaks to the media after winning the 2022 NBA Finals. Bill Simmons moved Curry into his top 10 'pantheon' NBA players of all time.
Stephen Curry | Elsa/Getty Images

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors beat Bill Simmons’ beloved Boston Celtics in six games to win the 2022 NBA Finals. This gives the Curry and the Warriors six Finals appearances and four NBA championships in eight years.

During this last series, Curry averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, shooting 43.7% from 3-point range. And while the overall numbers are fantastic, the timing and frequency of the big shots throughout the series were incredible.

Not bad for a skinny kid from Davidson.

From an all-time great perspective, Curry also won his first NBA Finals MVP Award. This is a big deal when comparing him against the legends of the game. The Finals MVP is the last major award Steph didn’t have in his trophy case.

At 34, Curry is now among the most decorated players in the game. To go with his four titles and new Finals MVP, he also has eight All-Star appearances, eight All-NBA nods (with five first-team), two scoring titles, and two NBA MVP Awards.

With three or four good years left (and maybe more with his ability as a shooter), where does that put Curry on the list of the best players in NBA history?

Bill Simmons says that Steph is now solidly in the top 10m ahead of one well-known former teammate.

Bill Simmons moved Stephen Curry into his all-time top 10 after the Golden State Warriors most recent title

On his podcast, The Bill Simmons Podcast, following Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Simmons revealed to his friend and frequent guest, Joe House, that Stephen Curry is now in the top 10 of his “pantheon” of greatest players in NBA history.

Prior to the 2022 NBA Finals, Simmons said in a May 2021 episode of his podcast that Curry was the 16th-best player in history. However, this changed after Game 6:

I think he’s in the top 10 for me now. … I had him behind the following six guys that I think he has now leapfrogged. The great Moses Malone. Shaquille O’Neal. God bless Shaq, but the flaw with him was those last four minutes in a close game. … This hurts, Hakeem Olajuwon. … So I’ve got him passing [Oscar] Robertson and [Jerry] West, and then [Kevin] Durant, because Durant never did this. You can’t put Durant ahead of Curry. Durant was never decidedly the best player on a team that was built around him.

Bill Simmons on Stephen Curry

Simmons also noted that Durant had the chance to be the superstar to bring his team to a championship in 2016 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and again with the Brooklyn Nets the last two seasons but “didn’t deliver.”

This is hard for Durant fans to believe. They look at the 7-foot (come on, no way he’s 6-foot-10) superstar with all his incredible skills and numbers to back it up and can’t imagine that a 6-foot-2, 212-pound player from Davidson could be better than their hero.

However, Simmons is right on this. Curry is the better all-time player right now. He’s also right about the nine players ahead of him.

Bill Simmons top 10 ‘pantheon’ NBA players

Bill Simmons moving Stephen Curry into his top 10 “pantheon” players in the NBA is a big deal. Simmons is a legit basketball historian, and he absolutely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to these rankings.

The nine players Simmons has ahead of Curry are:

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. LeBron James
  3. Bill Russell
  4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  5. Magic Johnson
  6. Larry Bird
  7. Tim Duncan
  8. Wilt Chamberlain
  9. Kobe Bryant

This is a great list and one that represents the best players in the NBA well. You can quibble if LeBron James really deserves to be at No. 2 now or that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson could be a little higher and Tim Duncan could be a little lower.

Overall, though, this is an excellent list that is hard to argue with.

With Stephen Curry, Simmons says the argument is no longer him vs. Kevin Durant. It is now Curry vs. Kobe Bryant. While The Ringer founder says he “like the stuff Steph brings more,” he still gives the No. 9 slot to Bryant for what Joe House calls his “force of will.”

The GOATS in all sports is one of the best conversations to have and a big reason we all love sports so much. When a player makes a major move into the upper echelon with a big title win, that’s significant and special.

And that’s exactly what Curry did, winning his fourth NBA championship this season.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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