Upon escaping with a thrilling overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Stephen Curry did not exactly radiate happiness. Fewer smiles, more groans. He loves to win, but this was a grueling 44 minutes and frankly, one of his lesser performances. Still, he was intent on finding a silver lining that'd been 27 years in the making.
Steph plucked a ball, the game ball in fact, from the corner of his locker and scrawled an odd-looking autograph in lustrous grey ink. It read:
43. Dell Curry 42. Stephen Curry
The "1,245" was his father's career total of 3-pointers made and "43" was Dell's placement on the career 3s list. On this night, Steph had eclipsed that total for good, ending up at 1,248.
Usually, such a ranking would show the guy with 1,248 before the guy with 1,245, but this is better listed as chronology. Without "43," there literally is no "42," after all. That's why Steph is sealing this particular ball in a glass case and shipping it to the man he owes so much.
"He played such at high level shooting the basketball 16 years in the league and I'm sure when he finished, he'd never have dreamt of a day when one of his sons surpass him," Steph said.
With this particular torch pass in mind, I called Dell Curry about getting usurped by one's son and the general evolution of 3-point shooting.
Strauss: So Steph's passing you in career made 3s. How do you feel about that?
Dell Curry: I've gotten notices from a few sportswriters and a lot of friends, jabbing me a little bit, but it's great. The success he's had, after a short amount of time in the league. It's great. I'm just happy. I'm not only a dad, but a fan of the league and the game, and to have a son play so well on a really good team is just icing on the cake.
Strauss: When you look back, how do you feel about how the game has changed?
Dell Curry: I'd like to think that -- I've been retired 13 years -- that I've had a little bit to do with that to show how big a weapon the 3-point shot is. I would have definitely liked to have made more. I don't know if I could have shot anymore because I was a different player. [Steph] can do it off the dribble; I was catch and shoot, so I don't know if I could have shot anymore. Now, you have to have that 3-point strategy in your offense. If you don't, you're going to get left behind. It's become such an integral part of the game. Working for the Hornets [as a broadcaster] and watching them every night and watching how they've improved in this 3-point shot, it's really helped them offensively, and I think that's why they're off to a pretty good start.
Strauss: Before this season, the Hornets could have used you, 13 years retired or not.
Dell Curry: Yeah, I could have knocked down some shots, absolutely. Put me in the corner or something.
Strauss: The sons of NBA players can really shoot it, Mychal [Thompson] as an example. He wasn't a shooter but Klay can really shoot. Do you think that a lot of shooting depends on your instruction growing up?
Dell Curry: I think early, yes. It forms good habits. You don't want young players shooting the ball. You don't want young players shooting with range too early. That forms bad habits. When you talk about ex-players, I think being around the game, having the ball in your hands, just being able to be in the gym. I know Klay and Steph tagged after us all the time. Just being around the game, again, with the ball in your hand. I don't know how big an advantage it is, but I know it didn't hurt. Those guys being around the best players, watching them every day, and then, having access to NBA facilities. A lot of kids dream of being able to have that opportunity.
Strauss: I know that at one point, Steph changed his form. What was that process like?
Dell Curry: I was very involved in it. Mom was right there, too. We were kind of double-teaming, but it was something I thought he needed to do to play at the next level, which was college. I was able to do it without changing the outcome, which was his ability to make shots. He was always able to make shots, he just needed to change where his release point was from. It was a tough summer for him. Little guy, thinking he's doing pretty good and dad come in, wants to change his shot.
It's a big project, especially for a kid that young, but he trusted me. And I think, if I hadn't been an NBA player -- guy that young, might have been just a normal dad -- he might have questioned me. But all my kids always trusted anything I had to tell them or any advice, and that was a big one. But now to see how he's become such a good shooter, I mean, it's still something that makes me kind of proud to say I was able to change his shot, because if I hadn't, who knows what would have happened?
Strauss: I was there for the MVP speech and I saw the way he talked about you and the way he thanked you for being a great father in the difficult NBA lifestyle, all the travel. I always wanted to know, what was that like for you?
Dell Curry: It's touching and emotional, man. You know, I always say that your kids are paying attention to you even when you don't realize it. That just made me and others realize that's definitely a true statement. I was just trying to be the best parent I could with my wife, who obviously played a tremendous role with the amount of travel NBA players face. You have to have a strong wife to be able to deal with the schedule and having kids in the house as well. Again, we tried to make life for them as normal as possible. And for him to reach that level, be awarded with that individual award, and then acknowledge we all had a part in helping him get to that goal, that's a father's dream come true.
Strauss: Was that the first time he really expressed some of those things to you or had you heard that before?
Dell Curry: Yeah, you hear it a little bit, but to express it in the public on a stage like that. And, not knowing at all what he was going to talk about, what the speech was about, I think that's what really caught everybody off guard. We had no idea going in what his speech was going to entail.
Strauss: So you're happy for him passing you, you're proud of your son, but do you still at least relish beating him at golf? Do you still have that?
Dell Curry: I relish beating him at golf and at H-O-R-S-E. I can still hold my own in both. He didn't get to play nearly as much golf this summer as he normally plays, and his game struggled because of it. I still didn't beat him as much as I'd like to. Because I played a lot. But absolutely, I relish both of those.
Ethan Strauss: It seems like you weren't really impacted by the NBA moving the 3-point line back in the mid-90s. Did you just usually shoot it from deeper?
Dell Curry: That line makes no difference where it was. When they moved it in, the line made no difference because I still had range. The only thing I knew was, there's no way that I'm shooting with a toe on the line. A long two-pointer with a toe on the line is the worst made shot in basketball. So I knew that moving the line in would take that out of the question. I had that range, so it didn't affect me at all.
Strauss: Do you think that Steph might even have more of an advantage if the league goes the other way and moves the line back farther out to beyond 25 feet?
Dell Curry: Oh, he would be fine with that. His first shot against Minnesota [on Thursday], I mean, I'm like, 'wow.' If they moved the line back, obviously it'd become a much more difficult shot for most players, but not him.