By Gary Dickman.
October 12th, 1979. That’s a very important date in NBA history. Two things happened in the same game that will be remembered forever. A Boston Celtics guard, Chris Ford, hit the first-ever three-point shot in NBA history. Before then, only the ABA had a three-point shot. It was a real novelty then, and it let everyone know that the ABA was an inferior league to the NBA for needing a gimmick like a three-point shot.
In those early years in the NBA, only an average of 6-1/2 3’s were taken per game by both teams combined. Today, that’s a normal quarter for Steph Curry. Overall, teams today combine for an average of 39 3’s a game. I often find myself criticizing players that take 3’s too quickly, too easily, but that’s mostly in the college game. But you do get NBA teams that take so many, and unnecessary at the time of the possession, and in certain situations in the game.
But I want to comment about Steph Curry. What we are witnessing is simply amazing. When a player in any sport can do something at a level that none of his peers can do, that’s pretty special. There‘s a short list on who was at that level. And it’s another short list of pro athletes who have changed the game based on how they played. Before Steph, there was no one that shot 3’s as often as Steph, or as far way from the three-point line as well. He’s had some unbelievable shots over his career, and by early next season Curry will overtake Ray Allen for most career three-pointers made. The shot he made against Boston last Saturday in the first half is number one to me as for the most incredible shot I’ve seen Curry make. He was behind the arc, on the left wing. He drew the defender in the air to get the foul call, then threw the ball up with his left hand with a full windup, and from 26 feet, of course it was nothing but net.
I’ve gotten to see Steph in person only once. It was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2018 in Houston. Curry had 27 points on 7 three-pointers. For a guy who’s not that big, although he is 6’3, he’s one of the all-time greats and the only unanimous MVP winner in NBA history. My description of the shot he made on Saturday doesn’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out.
Oh yeah, the other big event on October 12th, 1979: a rookie made his NBA debut that night in a Celtics uniform. His name was Larry Bird. And the rest is history.
I mentioned this briefly on the show on Monday and I want to bring it up here. Next time you watch an NBA game, take one quarter of a game, any game, any team, and just watch this. Anytime a player takes a shot, unless there’s a whistle, watch how often the shooter complains to a ref that he was fouled. Whether they make the shot or not, almost every single shot this happens. Players like to complain to the refs when the ball gets stolen from them, too. I watched two games last weekend and spent time just watching the shooters. Luka Doncic seems to think he gets fouled every time he shoots. I guess it’s partly human nature to think you got fouled when contact is made. But that alone doesn’t explain what NBA players do.
The worst guy at this to me played way back in the late 1980s-early 90s. Actually, it was two guys who battled each other often those years. Bill Laimbeer, a Bad Boy with the Detroit Pistons, he got into a few fights, a very physical, maybe a dirty player. But if you touched him or breathed on him, he’d cry foul to the refs like he was just assaulted. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at times, was kind of a whiner. There weren’t many who complained often back then, but they sure do now. Especially the King, LeBron James. He’s on the refs constantly, he’s as bad as it gets. So just try it. Watch a game, and for one quarter, watch every player after every shot and see how they complain way too often. Until next week
# # #