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Dave Bing on Stephen Curry: 'Best shooter that has played the game'

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. -- Basketball Hall of Famer Dave Bing has a pretty strong opinion: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is the best shooter in NBA history.

"He is absolutely the best shooter that has played the game," said Bing, who was named one of the Top 50 NBA players of all time. "Nobody's close, except his teammate."

Curry's teammate, of course, is Klay Thompson. But Bing gave Curry the nod over Thompson because of everything else he does. Bing cited Curry's ability to create shots on his own and create open space as some of the reasons he would give the nod to the reigning NBA MVP as the greatest shooter of all time. The only other player Bing could think of that would be in the conversation is Larry Bird.

Bing said in his era -- he played from 1966 to 1978 -- there were a lot of good midrange shooters but no one had the range Curry has today with the consistency Curry possesses.

Curry owns three of the four best 3-point shooting seasons -- by 3-pointers made -- in NBA history. His career 3-point percentage, according to Basketball Reference, is second all-time (44.4 percent) behind just his coach, Steve Kerr. Curry has averaged 22.4 points per game in his career -- with a career-best 30.1 points per game this season.

"Curry, he has the ability to get free. I mean, he's a great ball handler," Bing said. "He can play one-on-one and he gets free because he handles the ball so well. Klay Thompson doesn't handle the ball like that, but he's probably got equal depth. He's got the range also, but he can't get free like Curry.

"Curry can get free on his own and he makes the rest of his teammates, he makes them better."

Bing said the game when he played was more physical than the game now, so one could initiate more contact and beat players up a bit more. But that, he said, doesn't change his opinion. Bing said Curry's talent is rare, although from what he's seen so far, he isn't sure how much more room Curry has to grow.

"He's had a great career, and can he get any better? I doubt it, because he's really at the top of the game right now," Bing said. "And he carries himself well. He's a professional. I like the way he carries himself. His family. His teammates. The community, all of that is important."

That said, Bing isn't necessarily pulling for Golden State in the NBA finals. Bing said he would like to see Cleveland beat the Warriors, in part because Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is a Michigan native who has helped to rebuild Detroit. Bing was Detroit's mayor from 2009 to 2013.

That said, he doesn't necessarily think the Cavs will win.

"I really hoped that Cleveland would win for the city of Cleveland," Bing said. "I respect LeBron, and I'm not hung up on LeBron needs to win it when he goes back to Cleveland. Cleveland hasn't had a championship team in 52 years and you'd like to see that city come back and the owner happens to be a guy from here, so I'd like to see him win it.

"But Golden State is just way too talented and way too deep. I mean, they've got 10 or 11 players that they can put out there and it's not a major drop-off. And in Game 1, when their top two players really didn't play well, they still won by 15 points. And right now, it's got to be a mental game for Cleveland, even though they are going home. I mean, they just got wiped out both games and it's going to be hard for them to overcome that."