On Tuesday, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry received his second consecutive NBA MVP award, becoming the 11th player in NBA history to win the award two seasons in a row. But Curry can’t seem to get former NBA players to respect his talent.
In February, Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson called Curry out, saying NBA head coaches just needed to extend their defenses to block or alter Curry’s amazing 3-point shots.
Robertson and other legends, such as Cedric Ceballos, believe Curry’s success stems from lack of good defense. But another factor has to do with changes in the rules that promoted more scoring. Hand checking was disallowed, and zone defenses were permitted (with exceptions). Current players will always be compared to their predecessors, but former players had to play by the rules in effect during their era.
Tracy McGrady is the latest former NBA star to question Curry’s greatness, claiming that Curry’s latest MVP award shows that the NBA isn’t as talented as it once was.
“For him to be the first player to get this [MVP] unanimously, I think it just tells you how watered down our league is,” McGrady said Tuesday on ESPN’s The Jump.
McGrady argued that the league is not as deep as it used to be, when players like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal ruled the court. By the way, O’Neal fell one vote shy of winning the MVP unanimously in 2000, and LeBron James fell one vote shy of garnering a unanimous selection in 2013.
Though McGrady may have seemed disrespectful to the Warriors star, one could argue he is correct in his “watered down” assessment. The league has fewer true superstars than in prior eras. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook all finished in the top five for MVP voting, but they comprise a majority of the league’s true superstars—although a case can be made for Dwyane Wade, especially considering how he’s performing in these Playoffs. Wade is averaging 22 points per game, his highest average since the 2011-2012 postseason when the Miami Heat won the NBA title.