As a born-and-bred Tar Heel, I can tell you we take special pride in the fact that our own Michael Jordan–born in Wilmington and mentored as a young skywalker by Dean Smith in Chapel Hill–is the greatest basketball player Earth has ever seen. My family had season tickets to the Heels’ games, and I was a young teen watching in awe when MJ was rocking the cradle and rattling rims and skying high on the backboard for a follow-slam. We in Chapel Hill knew his greatness several years before the rest of the world caught on. So I do not entertain comparisons to MJ lightly. There has simply been no one who has equaled his total combination of skill, grace, savvy, finesse, power, swagger, clutch-ness, competitiveness, and championships. Not Magic, not LeBron, not Kobe.
But Stephen Curry is doing something that, in its own way, rivals Michael. He’s CHANGING THE GAME. If Jordan took the game above the rim, Curry is extending the game beyond the arc.
Asked about comparisons with Jordan, Curry states, "We have totally different skill sets, obviously. I try to stay in my lane when it comes to that." Unfortunately for the Warriors’ opponents, Curry’s lane keeps getting farther and farther from the basket. His accuracy from distance is on the order of a paradigm shift, a transformation from "Air" to "Splash."
Tonight we will see the Warriors try to take the single-season win record from one of the greatest teams ever, MJ’s ’96 Bulls, as well as the final game of one of the All Time Greats, Kobe Bryant. No one has come closer than Kobe to mirroring Michael’s moves, even if he never quite attained that Jordan je ne sais quoi. Steph Curry, on the other hand, is nothing like Michael Jordan. And that’s why he’s the next Michael Jordan.