Greatest shooter of all time: Larry Bird vs. Steph Curry

Is Steph Curry the greatest shooter in the history of the league? That question is being thrown around more than ever, as he is on the heels of breaking many shooting records this regular and postseason.

This year Curry broke the record for three pointers made in a season, a record he set himself in 2012-13. In this year's playoffs, Curry has also broken the record for most threes made in a postseason. He took care of that by Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, a full nine games less than it took Reggie Miller to set the mark (no pun intended, Reggie). More recently, Curry also tied the record for most threes in a Finals quarter, with five in the 4th quarter of Game 3.

Between Curry entering the greatest shooter of all time debate, and LeBron with the greatest player of all time debate, the current media trend certainly seems to be to ignore what is in your rear view and embrace what is now. How quickly we forget.

In Tuesday's Indianapolis Star, Gregg Doyel cast his vote in the greatest shooter of all time debate, and it's one Celtics fans are certain to get behind.

It's a subjective title, an unprovable assertion, but what I believe is this: The natural, the guy who shoots it better than anybody ever has, is Larry Bird.

Doyel goes out of his way to prove he is not some biased homer having an emotional reactionan to one of his heroes being slighted, which is good because that's the exact angle I would have gone with.

In the article, Doyel cites some players who disagree with him and vote Curry. Chauncey Billups said Curry has "the most beautiful shot we've ever seen", while Steve Nash went as far as to call him "the greatest we've ever seen". He also quotes Stephen A. Smith, but as of yet I am unwilling to do that to our readers.

Doyel quotes LeBron James as saying there's "never been a guy in our league who shoots the ball the way (Curry) does off the dribble or off the catch."

I quote LeBron as saying "I'm preliminarily putting my name in the 2010 dunk contest", so his statements obviously mean nothing. He said "preliminary" instead of "preliminarily", but when you're lying for attention sometimes pronunciation can go by the wayside.

Larry Bird himself spoke to Doyel for the piece and had a very level headed response, while also not conceding his stature as the all time alpha-shooter of the NBA.

"It's really in different stages," is how Bird started his answer. "He's no doubt a great shooter from long distance and short distance. He shoots more 3-point shots than anything. Usually outside that 3-point line if you're consistent and hit shots, people automatically think you're a great, great shooter – which he is, no question. But when I played, the 3-point shot was not the biggest thing. That was the last thing we thought of when we played. Later on in my career, we shot more (3's). My whole game was mid-range – that's where I played. I posted up later, but down screens, 15 to 23 feet, that was my game."

That's the problem with comparing the era's of these two greats. In today's age of metrics the midrange jumper is looked at with disdain, unless you're LaMarcus Aldridge, man that guy sure can stroke it (COME TO BOSTON). Yet in Larry's era the midrange and merely occasional three were the land of the marksmen. Larry was considered the shooter of his era and never took more than 237 threes in a season. Excluding 2011-12, where Curry only played in 23 games, he has never shot less than 342 threes.

Bird does have two 50-40-90 seasons under his belt, a shooting benchmark only six players have ever attained, and only two more than once (Larry and Nash). Curry has yet to pull one of those off but he has been close and is also young.

Larry did sprinkle a couple of great stories and quotes into the mix, which are always helpful in boosting "legend" status.

"There were some days," Bird says, "it didn't matter what I did out there. I couldn't miss. I could try to miss and wouldn't. I'd be out there working out, I'd get on a roll and say, 'I wonder if anybody ever made this many shots in a row.' There were days it was pretty incredible."

That is classic GOAT talk.

"One time I ran like 3 miles," Bird says. "Game that night. Go out and get loosened up and shoot jumpers. I didn't know it, but a TV station in Boston was counting. I never paid no attention. They said: 'You know you hit 74 shots in a row?' Nah, I can't really remember shooting. My mind was someplace else. They ran that highlight that night in fast speed."

What? Can I see that highlight please? LB just flicking up shots, getting loosened up, and unknowingly hitting 74 in a row? Sure it's probably unverifiable, but so were most of the 80's.

As to Bird's point about them also being in different stages, that is the real takeaway for fans and media trying to fast track Curry and LeBron to "best ever" status. Constant legacy comparisons of present players to players who have already retired is fun, but your perspective is so warped. It is fun to debate, but there is no reason to be definitive while a player is still crafting his legacy. In terms of Steph and LeBron, lets let them finish writing the book before we put out the review.

Also, Larry Bird is the greatest shooter of all time.

Top Photo Credit:

Middle Photo Credit: Getty Images

Follow me on Twitter @Thomp_26