By Will Baldwin
One is known for making passing cool, the other is known for making long distance shooting cool and yet for both, they are also known for the most important thing in professional sports, winning.
Stephen Curry and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson are the point guards most famous in their respective eras and rightfully so. Magic, lead the NBA’s glamour franchise to nine NBA finals, winning five, while playing a fast paced style predicated on his flashy passing that made pro basketball more popular than ever before. Steph meanwhile, is the face of the league’s transformation to volume three point shooting and is a two time MVP and three time champion who has lead the NBA in jersey sales for three straight seasons.
However, despite their obvious discrepancies in physical makeup, their similarities as players and NBA icons does not end there.
Magic along with rival and later friend Larry Bird saved the NBA with a rivalry that carried the league for an entire decade that helped make both into sure fire Hall of Famers. Steph and his Warriors have formed a rivalry with LeBron James that has helped raise NBA finals ratings to heights that have not been seen since Michael Jordan left the Bulls in 1998. This kind of resurgence in popularity for the league has not really been seen since what Magic and Bird accomplished in the 1980’s.
Furthermore, both players are known almost as much for their easy going, fun loving attitudes off the court as they are as dominant players on it.
Curry and Johnson are widely regarded as two of the greatest teammates in basketball history. Their approach to bring talented groups full of egos together for a greater purpose is not something you see often, especially with their ability to get the best out of teammates like Kevin Durant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It is leadership skills like this and, the gift of making teammates better that allows them to be more than just great players but rather, great champions.
Finally, both have both revolutionized the position they play and, the game as a greater whole.
For Magic, he was the first player to be anywhere near his size, six foot nine, with that kind of passing or ball handling ability. Players we see today like LeBron James and Ben Simmons are possible because coaches no longer force players into certain spots based on their size but rather, let their talents find their positions for them. Johnson also with his flashy uptempo style not only made passing ‘cool’ to all the kids growing up at the time but, he also managed to do it with a type of class that has lead him to being arguably the second most popular player in basketball history.
Steph on the other hand has changed what it means to be a point guard. A player who fell in the draft simply because no scouts knew if he could play ‘true point guard’ has found a way to show that there are a lot more ways than just the traditional style to playing point guard. He creates oppurtunities for his teammates with just simply his presence on the floor from the spacing he creates by being the greatest shooter in NBA history. Lastly, and much like Magic, Curry has proved that size is not everything in the NBA. His skinny, small stature has not only endeared him to fans across the world but has also left an indelible mark on how upcoming draft prospects are seen since nobody wants to miss the next Stephen Curry.
The truth is, there will never be another Stephen Curry or Magic Johnson. Their skills and personalities transcend the sport to the point where their popularity will last for generations to come. Both players not only showed the basketball world how many different ways to play point guard there is, they also showed fans around the world a level of excitement on the basketball court the likes of which they had never seen.
That in essence, is how you become an iconic point guard.