Larry Bird defends Stephen Curry’s impact on game, three ball

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“He’s hurting the game.”

“Young players are going into the gym trying to be him, not playing a team game.”

“These young players need to work on having a complete game.”

It’s what you heard from high school and youth coaches — about Michael Jordan. And Kobe Bryant. Young players were trying to go isolation, taking too many contested shots, and trying to destroy teams single-handedly — just like their idols. Before that, you had young guards trying to throw ridiculous no-look passes because they wanted to be Magic Johnson.

Now you hear the same misguided complaints about Stephen Curry, and ABC/ESPN color analyst said it about Curry during the Christmas Day broadcast. Curry handled it well and tried to take it as a compliment, but it felt like a “get off my lawn” comment from an old man who forgot what he did mimicking stars while growing up in the game.

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Now Larry Bird has come to Curry’s defense. Bird knocked down his share of threes in an era when that shot was not used as a weapon the way it is now. The man currently with the hammer on Pacers basketball decisions, Bird said this about Curry on the Collin Cowherd Show on Fox Sports Radio (via the San Jose Mercury News).

“I think he loves Steph Curry,” Bird said. “But if you walk in any gym, if there are kids in there, they’re all shooting 3-pointers. That’s the way it was when I walked in gyms years ago. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

 “I just think Steph Curry is probably right now our best player and what a champion. He (Jackson) said `what a champion.’ That team out there is a real champion. Because if you win a championship and then come out and go 28-1, that’s pretty special.”

The Bird is the word.