Nothing But Net

2 min
at 11:43 AM

Almost 25 years ago, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird starred in a series of commercials competing to make increasingly improbable shots to win that most rarefied of prizes, a Big Mac.

Like a game of horse on Mt. Olympus, the pair progressed from three-point bank shots to heaves from the rafters off the scoreboard. The closing image has them preparing to shoot from atop the Sears Tower.

My mind flashed back to this ad the other night after Steph Curry drained a shot from just inside the half court line to beat Oklahoma City in overtime, a game the Warriors led for all of 29 seconds. What Bird and Jordan pretended to do in an ad that required several cutaways, Curry seems to be doing in real life, and at crucial times.

The shot, eventually measured at 38 feet, felt like the apogee of the ridiculous run he and the Warriors are having, as they chase the single season record for victories set by Jordan's 1995-96 Bulls team.

Curry's bravado was so absurd, so unexpected, that Lebron James took to Twitter to declare that, quote, "Steph is not human." Coming from James, considered the world's best, as in most complete player, says something.

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This ability to acknowledge and admire greatness in a competitor sets professional basketball apart from sports like baseball, football or hockey, where players are encouraged to take someone out - see Buster Posey 2011.

Even more inspiring, Curry looks like a guy at your Monday night pick-up game. He stands six-foot three, short for the NBA. You might mistake him for a runner. But when he shoots, his release is so fast, so effortless, a high-arcing parabola that seems to brush the clouds, you half expect the ball to come down with ice on it before it softly swishes through the net.

While Curry is the team's unquestioned superstar, the Warriors' domination rests on putting egos aside. Their supreme unselfishness is modeled by their coach, Steve Kerr, who considers fun a core value on par with winning. Their joy shines through nightly.

That something so extraordinary is happening in Oakland, a perpetual underdog, makes it even more satisfying. The only sad part: the Warriors may stay for only a few more years before relocating across the Bay, from the Town to the City. Until then, I'm planning to savor every moment.

Go Dubs!

With a Perspective, I'm Steven Birenbaum.

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Steven Birenbaum is senior communications officer at the California Health Care Foundation in Oakland.

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