The Golden State Warriors star guard became the all-time leader in 3-pointers Tuesday night in a 105-96 win over the New York Knicks, passing Hall of Famer Ray Allen by knocking down the 2,974th of his career.
The record-breaking shot came with 7 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter as Curry drained a 28-footer from the right wing off a pass from Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors quickly fouled and called a time out so that Curry could enjoy the moment.
“It was a beautiful ending to this last week,” Curry said after the game. “The buildup to getting this number, it was a special atmosphere. I knew the Garden would deliver just in terms of how iconic this place is — I can’t say it enough, I appreciate so much the way the fans embraced the moment with me and let me kind of get lost in it. I could feel it. Once I took the shot on the wing, it just felt good, looked good — it felt like we were at home.”
“It was a special moment, for sure, that I appreciate and I’ll remember for the rest of my life, in terms of what it means to me to pass Ray,” Curry added. “Him and Reggie [Miller], guys I’ve looked up to coming into the game. Definitely special.”
Curry received a big hug from teammate Draymond Green as players streamed onto the floor to congratulate him. Curry took the ball that he was clutching in his arm and handed it to his father, Dell, on the floor as the Madison Square Garden crowd gave him a rousing standing ovation. Curry went back toward center court a few moments later to get a hug and congratulations from Allen.
Then Curry, who had tried to deflect the significance of the moment over the past couple of weeks, couldn’t hold it back anymore. When he sat back down on the bench, tears welled in his eyes.
Miller and Allen presented Curry with a Warriors jersey with the number 2,974 on the back after the game. Curry admitted that the moment, with Miller sitting courtside calling the game for Turner Sports and Allen flying in to see the game in person, “exceeded” any dreams he had about how it would all play out.
“My respect for Reggie and Ray, guys who set the bar for what it meant to be a sharpshooter,” Curry said. “And have longevity, as well. And for me, I’ve tried to own that in my journey in terms of range, volume, efficiency. All those things go into it. So, I pride myself on shooting a high percentage. I pride myself on allowing that to help us win games. And now I can pride myself on the longevity of getting to that number that Ray set and hopefully pushing it to a number that nobody can reach. We’ll see what happens.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver congratulated Curry in a statement released during the game.
“It was thrilling to see Steph break the NBA’s all-time record for three-pointers,” Silver said. “He has revolutionized the way the game is played and continues to leave fans in awe with his amazing artistry and extraordinary shooting ability. We congratulate him on this historic achievement.”
Curry finished 5-of-14 from 3-point range, bringing his career total to 2,978. He had 22 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. And after the game, he made sure to thank his teammates for how much he believes they have helped him accomplish.
“Steph in the locker room was vintage Steph,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Joyful, grateful. He talked to the team about how much they mean to him. How much the game means to him, the process. He is who he is; that’s the beauty of Steph. He’s so authentic. He’s so genuine. I thought the night was perfect. It just pretty much encapsulated who he is, and his reaction to it was perfect.”
Curry personally gifted engraved Rolexes to his longest-tenured teammates: Green and Andre Iguodala, and he saved one more for Klay Thompson, who is back in the San Francisco Bay Area rehabbing his Achilles and ACL injuries.
“I always say not often do you have the opportunity to interact with someone great at something, let alone go to work with someone that is great, the absolute best at something,” Green said. “That’s a very rare thing, because there are very few people that are the best at said thing. Steph is the best to ever shoot a basketball, and we get the opportunity to go to work with him every day. It’s a very special thing.”
Green noted that the only thing he felt was missing from Curry’s moment was Thompson’s presence in the locker room.
“His jersey was in the locker room next to mine,” Curry said of Thompson. “It will be good to get back to celebrate with him. And then obviously celebrate his return hopefully soon.”
Players and staff members wore Curry T-shirts and hats celebrating his accomplishment. The sense of “relief” that Curry, Green and Kerr all talked about in recent days was palpable. While everyone inside the Warriors organization wanted to see Curry break the record, they also knew that talk of the mark was hovering over everything the team did. As the record crept closer, Curry tried to deflect talk of the impending milestone, acknowledging how much the mark means to him. Those close to him say they understand and take pride in the greatness he has achieved.
“I can’t explain it,” Dell Curry recently told ESPN. “And I played with and against Ray, played against Reggie, I know how great shooters those guys were. But to know my son’s going to leave the game being the best — he already is the best shooter ever to play, and have that record, it’s unbelievable.”
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about,” Curry said. “I don’t know when the first dream happened, but I love to shoot the ball. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was 3 years old. When you kind of go through the ranks, you love the work that you put in, and you love the results that come from it, but I told them it’s been an amazing journey being a part of the Warriors for these 12½ years.
“All the guys that have set screens for me, that have passed me the ball, that have bought into the system, creates that beautiful Warriors style and brand of basketball. All that plays into this moment, so I hope they appreciate it as much as I do.”
As Curry got set to finish his postgame news conference, he was asked, now that he had the all-time 3-point record, who he thought was the greatest shooter of all time. Before breaking Allen’s record, he admitted he hesitated to answer that question. Now, with the record in hand, he had no doubt.
Leaning back in his chair with a smile, he raised both arms in the air before pounding the table in front of him for emphasis.
“I got that baby!” Curry said.