You know Tim Hardaway if you look at the stars. A Hall of Fame point guard, Hardaway battled his share, including Michael Jordan, during his 14-year NBA career.
So when you see Stephen Curry and LeBron James face off again in the NBA playoffs, only one comparison comes to mind.
“Michael Jackson and Prince,” Hardaway said. “You have to see it. That’s how they are stars. They command the crowd.”“
With James playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and Curry playing for the Golden State Warriors, they captured the attention of the basketball world in the Western Conference Semifinals.it’s not of The biggest stages, like when James played in Cleveland and faced off in four straight NBA Finals from 2015-2018. But in the NBA, whatever stage they’re on is the biggest stage. Together or apart, for a generation, they have defined a league where individual stars can decide the fate of their teams and change broader cultures than stars in other team sports.
The playoff series, starring Curry and James, is the basketball equivalent of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles touring together. Or Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Or, in basketball parlance, this is his 1980s Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird.
But this year’s matchup is especially important. James, 38, and his 35-year-old Curry are nearing the end of careers that revolutionized basketball, with no clear successors to continue their progress. Curry’s mastery of his 3-pointer ushered in a new era of long-range shooting as the primary offensive offense at his level in all basketballs. At 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds, it would have been nearly impossible to physically replicate the mighty James, but he helped basketball stars bend teams at will and lift themselves off the floor. I changed my view of my ability to generate political and social capital for
Their playoff matchup this year may be the last time fans will see two basketball players of this level of influence compete against each other in the postseason. Non-championship record series.
“What happens when those two guys, if not the big names in the league, obviously, but the big names are gone?” said former NBA player Dell Curry, Steph Curry’s father. “I think the league is very healthy when it comes to star power, but who will lead that role?”
For the past 20 years, James and Curry have been the NBA’s biggest drawers, generating revenue through television ratings, sponsorships, jersey and ticket sales.In 2009, when Golden State drafted Curry, Forbes estimated the team’s value at $315 million – No. 18 Most Valuable NBA FranchiseAfter Curry led the team to its fourth championship in eight years last year, Golden State Eye-popping $7 billion valuation.
NBA Players Union executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in an email that Curry and James “facilitated the economic prosperity of the cities in which they play.”
“From an equity standpoint, our players are strong and Stephen Curry and LeBron James are living proof of that truth,” Tremaglio said.
“What they’ve done is astronomical for our game in terms of viewership, globalization of the game,” said New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCallum, President of the Players Union. “Our league is in a better place because of that,” he added.
James’ presence has been a boon at each stop of his career, from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat and now Los Angeles. He has become a modern-day fandom icon where many fans follow players rather than teams. And Curry, whose pre-game shooting routine even attracts opposing team fans, has shown how his transcendental talents can test loyalty at its best.
“Basketball influences are like every kid in the league especially right now. They’re the two guys you want to be,” said guard Isiah, who played with James and had to guard Curry. said Thomas. “I’ve seen young players come into the league and be in awe of them. They’re competing with them.”
Jamal Crawford, who recently retired after 20 years in the NBA, said Curry’s build (6’2″, 185 pounds) made him seem like the “boy next door” compared to larger athletes. Said he let
“He’s a man every kid can look up to and say – a kid. If you work hard at your game, work on your skills, believe in yourself, you can achieve incredible things.” ,” said Crawford, now a TNT analyst. “If you look at LeBron, you’ll say, ‘Wow, he’s a force of nature and it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.'”
Since last meeting at the 2018 NBA Finals, Curry and James have expanded their cultural influence.Curry Spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, James Endorsed Joe Biden becomes president That year, we launched the Voting Rights Group.They are outspoken against gun violence, and Curry has been helping with public health outreach during the coronavirus pandemic. Active NBA player to become a millionaire. And through production companies (James’s SpringHill Company and Curry’s Unanimous Media), both players have found an opportunity to consolidate their legacy, perhaps turning to hagiography.
documentary”Stephen Curry: Underrated, directed by Peter Nix and co-produced by Uninimus Media, the film debuted at last month’s San Francisco International Film Festival and will stream on Apple TV in July. , became the first N.BA player to win two MVPs by unanimous vote. history. To get there, he struggled with his ankle injury early in his career, but is now widely regarded as the greatest shooter of all time.
In June, James’ company, SpringHill, released a feature film,shooting starin Peacock, based on his high school team St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. This is an adaptation of his 2009 book by James and Buzz his Bissinger.
These projects highlight the vastly different paths to stardom of the two players. James was already a popular star as a teenager. Former Shoe Marketing Executive Sonny Vaccaro said, Once sent James to a Lakers playoff game Adidas private plane in high school. Jeff Benedict said James was hooked. Jeff Benedict recently released an independent biography of James titled ‘LeBron’. He said James had long understood that “basketball is more than just a sport.”
“It’s like show business,” Benedict said. “This is a very high form of public entertainment in the United States.”
Curry and James’ cultural influence spills over into the theater, even in independent plays unrelated to the stars. This summer, England-based playwright Inua Elams said,rain demigodat the New York Theater Workshop. The plot is a combination of mythology and basketball. A demigod comes to Earth and becomes the biggest star in the NBA. Longtime NBA fan Elams said the character was loosely based on Curry and Milwaukee’s Giannis his Antetokounmpo.
In another play, Rajiv Joseph’s “King James,” which premieres Off-Broadway this month at New York’s Manhattan Theater Club, James doesn’t make an appearance, but shows his influence. The piece chronicles the friendship between two Cleveland-based men who idolize James.
Joseph, a Cleveland native and lifelong sports fan, said the idea for the play came to him after James won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016.
“When I think about it, I always felt that when he smiled at our beautiful little piece of land in Cleveland, he was like this God whose crops were thriving and whose rivers were clean,” Joseph said. And when he left, it all dried up.It’s an exaggeration, but from a sporting point of view, it certainly felt that way.”
Elams said the NBA would feel a “cavernous” loss when Curry and James were gone. updated.
“It’s going to take half a century to get close to what everyone has been able to do — what they’re actively doing now,” says Elams. “This is not making history. This is punching a hole in the mountain.”“
James is in his 20th season, far beyond where most players’ careers end. In his 14th season, he and Curry stave off the NBA’s need to fully transition into a new era of stardom.
“Even if you can’t see it, there will always be a next time”,” said Candace Parker. Players who left their mark in WNBA history.
“That’s what we asked ourselves after Michael Jordan retired. After Magic and Bird retired. It always seems to come next.”
Parker, who played for the Las Vegas ace and is an NBA analyst for TNT, has joined Antetokounmpo, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and French prodigy Victor, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He cited players such as Wenbanyama as possible Torch careers. .
Oscar Robertson, one of the greatest guards ever to play in the NBA, said part of the reason Curry and James were able to stay influential was because of how well they still played at their ages. Said it was a thing
“Some 29-year-olds are too old. Some 34-year-olds are too old,” said Robertson, 84. he added: “The guys try to rise to the occasion to face these two athletes. And I’m so happy that these two athletes of his are up for that challenge every time they take the court. “
But so far, no other current player in the NBA (or perhaps any other player in American team sports) has been on the same trajectory of stardom and influence as James and Curry.
“No one knows how long they will play, so we have to enjoy them now,” Crawford said. “But what we do know is that we’ll never see two like this again. So we should savor every moment.”