Watching Steph Curry‘s ascent the last few seasons has been nothing short of magical. Many basketball fans alike have already dubbed him the greatest shooter of all time — they may not be wrong in that assertion. I’ve been one to hold my applause just a bit as I’ve seen some very incredible shooters in my lifetime, but I must say, Wardell Stephen Curry is certainly near the top of the list.
What makes Curry remarkable is the way in which he gets his shots off. Catch-and-shoot, off the dribble, it really does not matter at this point. I had to dig deep into my vault of basketball knowledge to pinpoint whose game Steph reminded me of most, and it suddenly hit me, one of my childhood heroes: Chris Jackson aka Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.
For those who don’t know, Abdul-Rauf was one of the best shooters the basketball world has ever seen. 39 free throw attempts short of being the NBA’s all-time leader in free throw percentage, Abdul-Rauf was one of the most feared shooters in the game. Some may argue that his success from college didn’t entirely translate to the NBA, and that’s perfectly fine. At LSU he averaged 29 points over the two years he spent in Baton Rouge (mind you, Shaquille O’Neal played with him for one of those years), was a two-time 1st Team All-American, and was simply the most unstoppable guard in college hoops since “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Early NBA struggles led many to believe the Denver Nuggets grossly made a mistake selecting him with the 3rd overall pick of the 1990 NBA Draft. However, renewed faith and dedication to his craft helped right the ship. He was an integral part of the Nuggets team that became the first 8th seed to knock off a top seed (1994 Seattle Supersonics) in a playoff series.
The similarities between Steph Curry and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf are very clear. Quick release, unlimited range, fearlessness. Steph Curry has been the focal point of his team the for the better part of the past 4-5 seasons, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf never had such an honor. So that is where they part.
Curry ultimately gets the edge just based on overall team/personal success. Curry is also widely regarded as one of the top three players on the planet, an accolade Abdul-Rauf was never fortunate to reach. This does not diminish his exploits, though, just ask John Stockton how lethal Mahmoud could be on a good day. Ironically enough, Curry’s reservation and quiet demeanor have given him a bevy of fans, whilst Abdul-Rauf’s same traits ultimately led to his being “black-balled” from the NBA not even 10 years in. Call it misunderstood, or shy, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf never got the credit he deserved as one of the best marksmen of his generation, and arguably ever.
Thus it’s very refreshing to see a superstar like Steph Curry possess some of the same skills that made Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf a favorite of many die-hard basketball fans both collegiately and professionally.
It would not come as a surprise to me if Steph Curry were to list Chris Jackson aka Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as one of the guys that he looked up to while perfecting his game early on. The similarities are too glaring for it to be any other way. In all fairness, Steph has displayed skills that have seldom been seen at the highest level of professional basketball. Unbelievably gifted, playing in one of the most dynamic & efficient systems, the cards have all been aligned for Steph to succeed.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was never given the type of green light that Curry has had in the pros. The times that he was allowed to do his thing, he showed flashes of his once in a generation talent. As a fan of the game, it’s wonderful to see Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s skillset taken to another unreal level through the play of one Wardell Stephen Curry II.