LeBron James and Steph Curry’s battles in the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018 provided fans with a fascinating contrast. On one side, we saw generational talent who has been taking the NBA by storm since 2003; on the other hand, we witnessed the best shooter in the NBA. Both players have revolutionized the game in their own ways, but their methods couldn’t be more opposite.
What makes Steph Curry so great?
Historically, the NBA’s best players have a complete set of skills that make them a threat in more ways than one. While Curry has other things going for him, like elite handles and leadership, he’s more of a specialist than almost any other player of his caliber. When somebody can shoot with unlimited range as he can, this isn’t necessarily a knock.
It would not be fair to call Curry a one-dimensional athlete because he is fast and can handle the ball with the best of them. But his shooting will always set him apart. Curry made the game go far beyond the arc thanks to his abilities and leadership.
He doesn’t necessarily need to be the focal point to be effective. Curry’s years with Kevin Durant proved he could play with a player many believed to be better. He didn’t come in as a superstar like James; the point guard had to prove his place before he could rise to his heights. This is what makes him so unique.
What makes LeBron James so great?
James entered the league at 18 years old, with the astronomical expectations of being the next Michael Jordan. This label was nothing new in NBA circles, but James had the potential to meet it. On the heels of Jordan’s final retirement, the league was hungry for another player like him, and James delivered.
Never the best shooter, James isn’t as prone to monstrous scoring outputs like Kobe Bryant. But his overall domination makes him a pain for other teams to contain. He can drive in with the force of a semi-truck, but he can also pass the ball like an elite point guard and chase down the other team on the fastbreak like an elite big man.
James’ greatest asset has always been his mind, even if his freakish build and generational talent helps make this possible. He doesn’t always go for the big dagger in a game’s final moments. Instead, he does what’s right for the team and ensures they have the best opportunity. Although James is always the No. 1 option, he continues to use his entire team as an extension despite being in his 17th season.
Clash of the titans
James and Curry might be the two most important NBA players of the new millennium. While Bryant and other superstars had their moments, they established themselves in the ’90s. James and Curry signaled a new era of basketball that was less about highlight plays — though both have their fair share — and more about how they utilize an entire basketball court.
Both players want to win. Curry might have won three out of the four NBA Finals matchups, but he didn’t carry the load James did. Conversely, James might’ve been the face of the team, but he never revolutionized the game the way that Curry did at a systematic level.
NBA fans can spend their days comparing the two to decide who is best. Either way, they should be grateful they can witness two titans of basketball.