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Joe Santoro: Stop the debate, Curry is great

Golden State guard Stephen Curry celebrates during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Boston in San Francisco on June 13, 2022.

Golden State guard Stephen Curry celebrates during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against Boston in San Francisco on June 13, 2022.
Jed Jacobsohn/AP

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The drama attached to Steph Curry in this year’s NBA Finals is becoming ridiculous. The national media needs to stop embarrassing itself.
Curry is already arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history. He’s won three NBA titles already and he will, without question or hesitation, be a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame after he retires. He changed the NBA. He’s already a legend. His legacy is secure as one of the NBA’s all-time greats, no matter what happens in Game 6 or 7 against the Boston Celtics.
But the national media wants you to be believe that Curry’s legacy is on the line this week. The national media wants you to be believe that if Curry and the Warriors don’t win this title and Curry is not named Most Valuable Player that it will be a stain on Curry’s brilliant career. Stop it. That’s just national television, radio, podcast and Twitter noise.
We understand Curry has never been named Finals Most Valuable Player. But that is not Curry’s fault. Curry has played 33 games in six different NBA Finals. His teams have won three titles and 20 of those 33 games and are one victory away from four and 21.
Curry in the Finals over his career has averaged 27.1 points, 6 assists and 5.7 rebounds a game. He’s made 39 percent of his threes (yes, that includes Monday’s 0-for-9) and 92 percent of his free throws in his Finals. He’s never averaged fewer than 22.6 points a game in any of his six Finals. In five of those six Finals he has averaged at least 26 points a game. In the 2017 Finals he averaged 26.8 points, 8 rebounds and 9.4 assists a game. In 2018 he averaged 27.5 points, 6 rebounds and 6.8 assists. In 2019 he averaged 20.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists a game. Those are NBA Finals-type MVP numbers.
Michael Jordan is considered the ultimate NBA Finals player. Jordan won six NBA Finals MVP awards in six Finals. He averaged 33.6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists a game in the Finals for his career. His Chicago Bulls teams played 35 games in the finals and won 24 and never played a Game 7. He’s the standard in the Finals.
Curry, we remind you, has averaged 27.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6 assists in 33 Finals games. His teams are 20-13 in the Finals with three titles and counting. Jordan has six MVPs and Curry is still looking for his first. Is there really that much difference between Jordan and Curry in the Finals? It’s not Curry’s fault that he’s never won a NBA Finals MVP.
The University of Nevada should be commended for hiring Rebecca Lobo as the featured speaker in this year’s Governor’s Dinner in Carson City on July 21. Lobo will be the first female featured speaker at the Governor’s mansion since the event started in 1969. She will be the 50th different featured speaker at the event in 54 years (three speakers did it twice and the event was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic).
Lobo will also be just the second speaker at the dinner that has won a NCAA basketball tournament as a player. Bobby Knight, who has appeared at the dinner twice, helped Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek win the title in 1960 for Ohio State.
Lobo is the featured speaker this year because the Wolf Pack wanted to honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX. But her presence in Carson City is also significant for another reason. The Governor’s Dinner, after all, was an all-male dinner for its first dozen or so years. A famous male speaker told stories to an all-male audience in the Governor’s backyard starting in 1969 and throughout the 1970s. The first female guests started to trickle in during the early 1980s but less than 10 percent of the audience (and none of the featured speakers) were female throughout the 1980s and 1990s. So, yes, it has taken more than five decades for Title IX to be fully embraced in Northern Nevada. One day, who knows? The dinner might actually be hosted by a female governor.
Despite what you’ve heard, the Jay Norvell era in Northern Nevada is not quite over. This season the Nevada Wolf Pack roster will have more than four dozen players who were brought to the program by Norvell. Nearly two dozen of those players practiced and played for Norvell for the past three years or more.
A few players (Dom Peterson, Tyson Williams, Bentlee Sanders) played in the program under Norvell for five years and will finish their careers with a sixth year in 2022 under new coach Ken Wilson. Another 10 played under Norvell for four years. All we’ve seen on the internet are the smiling faces of the players Wilson has signed for the Pack over the last five months or so. But this is still very much Norvell’s team.
Toa Taua has a chance this year to set a school record as the first player to ever lead the Wolf Pack in rushing for five consecutive seasons. He is getting a fifth full season because the 2020 season does not count against a player’s eligibility because of the pandemic. So he might set a record that will never be broken or equaled.
Two players (Charvez Foger, Chris Lemon) have led the Pack in rushing four years in a row and two did it three years in a row (Toa’s brother Vai along with Frank Hawkins). Toa has 3,086 career yards on 638 carries and 22 rushing touchdowns, playing in Norvell’s pass-happy Air Raid offense. He could join Hawkins (5,333), Vai Taua (4,588), Foger (4,484), Lemon (4,246) and Colin Kaepernick (4,112) as the only players in school history to rush for 4,000 or more yards.


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