Swarming defenses, media circuses and plane problems couldn’t delay the inevitable: Steph Curry is the all-time 3-point king.
It was a long time coming. But the record fell almost immediately Tuesday night before packed Madison Square Garden. It took Curry only 4 minutes, 27 seconds of game time and three shots to claim the crown from Ray Allen, whom Curry embraced at midcourt after the Warriors called time immediately following the shot. With the Knicks’ Alec Burks closing in on him at the top right wing, Curry rose, fired and made history. Andrew Wiggins got the assist.
From the get-go, it was clear Curry was gunning for the record and going to get it quickly. Entering the game only one behind Allen on the all-time leaderboard, Curry took a few steps across halfcourt on Golden State’s third possession of the night, crossed over and drained the tying shot — nothing but net — from the top of the key.
The Garden was buzzing from the opening tip. It exploded once Curry’s shot splashed through the net.
Curry made a beeline for Draymond Green, the teammate who has assisted or screened on so many of those 2,974 3-pointers, and the two shared an extended and emotional hug before Curry made his way to the Warriors bench and eventually over to Allen at midcourt.
As Curry was happy to make note of throughout the last leg of his pursuit, any of the possible venues provided a satisfying narrative. He could have broken Klay Thompson’s single-game record. He could have done it against his brother. It could have come on the home court of his idol and previous 3-point leader Reggie Miller. Instead, it came inside basketball’s mecca, the site of so many moments in history, and the place where Curry, eight years earlier, showed the first glimpses of what could be possible.
Curry surpassed Miller on the all-time leaderboard last season, leaving him one target left to claim a record that’s long held a special meaning for him: Allen, who took the crown from Miller a decade ago and has held it ever since, with 2,973 career 3-pointers.
All three of the 3-point giants were inside the Garden on Tuesday — Miller on the Turner Sports broadcast; Allen courtside in MSG’s “Celebrity Row” — to pass the baton to the newest all-time leader, a title Curry shouldn’t relinquish for the foreseeable future. As Green mused recently, “Ultimately, I think he’ll end up beating the record by a thousand-plus 3s.”
However, as Curry closed in on the record, the milestone only became increasingly difficult. Reticent to allow a record to be shattered on their home court, teams doubled down on their already dogged defense of Golden State’s transcendent superstar. Coach Steve Kerr suggested Curry might be pressing with the record in mind.
He entered Tuesday night shooting an uncharacteristic 30% from distance over his previous three games. When he needed 16, he got six. Within 10 of the record, Curry managed only three 3s at Philadelphia. With five Monday in Indiana, he set himself up to make history on basketball’s biggest stage. He hadn’t yet passed every obstacle.
Golden State was left stranded in Indianapolis after its private jet broke down Monday night and was forced to fly into New York Tuesday morning.