Fans and some in the media have a fascination with comparing players across eras, even though it’s a bit of a fool’s errand. Everything from training techniques to how the rules are enforced make comparisons uneven. Still, fans need to defend their favorite player (because Michael Jordan needs you to protect his legacy?), and sports-talk shows need to generate content.
Now Jordan has an entire documentary — The Last Dance — defending his reputation.
Which led to some ridiculous “Stephen Curry couldn’t play in Jordan’s era” talk from Jordan stans. Warriors legendary assistant coach Ron Adams — not a guy who throws praise around lightly — said Curry’s drive would have made him a success in any era.
“He’s a human being who lives his life with great joy,” Adams said this week. “He plays with great joy. The way he does it — and I’m not saying others haven’t or can’t — is really unique. He’s an outlier. That’s who he is and how he lives his life. He exemplifies the things that a good human being should possess.
“But he is (on the court) guided by his will to succeed, his will to win. And, more than that, his will to do it his way. That’s not unlike Jordan and the other great players. Steph is playing in a different era, with different defensive rules, but the way he is wired, he would have adjusted to any time period. His drive is very similar to all the great players that have played the game.”
Curry also has a very different leadership style than Jordan, more inclusive and less abrasive. Too many people think the Jordan or Kobe Bryant style (Derek Fisher had to play good cop for Kobe for years) is the only way to lead, but that doesn’t work for everyone.
Curry could have thrived in any era because 30-foot shots count for three points in any era (after 1979, at least). He would have adjusted to the physicality the way Jordan would have adapted to the instant doubles and zone defenses he would have seen today (zone defense and its cousin the overload defense to stop iso players wasn’t allowed in the 1990s). Great players — Jordan, Curry, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and on down the list — would have adapted to thrive in any era. The style they played fit the game of that era, but they were all capable of more.