NBA writer Jack McCallum dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Tuesday to discuss his new book, Golden Days: West’s Lakers, Steph’s Warriors, and the California Dreamers Who Reinvented Basketball, which chronicles two of the greatest teams in NBA history and how they’re connected.
The 1971-72 Lakers, which won an NBA record 33 straight games, left their mark on the NBA, and the current Warriors are in the process of doing the same.
“On the court, I do think they’re different,” McCallum said on Reiter Than You. “They’ve got a team together that plays a very wide-open style. There are five guys that can pass the ball, and they’re very unselfish. But the difference is with a lot of those teams and maybe the teams in the past like the Phoenix Suns, they also play defense. And I think they have one truly revolutionary player, and that is Steph Curry.”
Curry, a two-time MVP, is perhaps the greatest shooter in NBA history – and his skill level could change the game forever.
“The distance from which he shoots the ball and has become accurate, I think that has almost become a real revolutionary aspect of the game – not for the entertainment value, but because of what it forces your defense to do,” McCallum said. “When your defense is now guarding people 27, 28 feet from the basket, this creates a whole new kind of pressure. Whether or not other teams can follow this, you still have to have players as skillful as the Warriors have. But I think they have created a new kind of dynamic both on and off the court.”
While the best shooter of all time can be debated – some say Larry Bird, some say Reggie Miller, some say Ray Allen – Curry is in a class all his own when it comes to a few things.
“Here’s what he can do better than anybody, and I don’t think there’s any question about this,” McCallum said. “He can come down and go from his handle to his shot quicker than anybody else that I have ever seen. And even Jerry West, who was a great shooter himself, will say that.”
Curry has benefited from many things: a father who played in the NBA, some of the best teammates in the world, and a regimented practice schedule in first-class facilities.
“Steph Curry probably takes more practice shots in one week than I would wager Jerry West took in two months – not because West didn’t work hard, but simply because the things that you need to become a more skilled player are there for a guy like Steph Curry,” McCallum said. “His work ethic is equal to anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s no accident that he’s a great shooter.”