OAKLAND – Not the greatest backcourt shooting tandem in the game today. Warriors coach Mark Jackson wanted to be clear he did not mean that. Not even the tempered analysis of having the potential to be the greatest ever.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson form the best pairing of shooters at guard in NBA history. Period.
That the declaration comes with typical Jackson mamma-there-goes-that-statement conviction is not a surprise. He is a pastor at a church in suburban Los Angeles and a former television broadcaster who spoke swagger. That it comes after one full season together as Warriors teammates is.
But Curry just had an electric Game 2 at Denver to tie the first-round series that arrives at Oracle Arena on Friday, Thompson has made 18 of 30 shots overall and seven of 11 from behind the arc, and so Jackson got historical.
Jackson played with Reggie Miller in Indiana. One of the Golden State minority owners and one of the voices in the personnel department is Jerry West, once in the same Lakers backcourt with Gail Goodrich. Jackson played in Utah, site of a John Stockton-Jeff Hornacek pairing.
It didn’t matter.
Curry and Thompson have really only been together one season. They may have been teammates in 2011-12, but the schedule was 66 games because of the lockout and injuries forced Curry to miss 40 of those.
That didn’t matter either.
When Jackson was asked before practice Thursday, the second of two off days before the series resumes Friday night, whether he meant Curry and Thompson have the chance to eventually be the greatest, he said, “They are the greatest-shooting backcourt tandem in the history of the game. They are.”
Better than Miller and Jackson, more of a poke because Jackson will never make anyone’s shooting list?
“We’d be in the discussion,” Jackson said. “But he (Miller) missed too many shots.”
Isn’t there something to be said for playing at an elite level over an extended period of time?
“There’s no tandem that’s done it in the history of the game over 82 games like these guys,” Jackson said. “That’s an extended period. They have a body of work. I think too much is being played of (the topic), but at the end of the day it’s my belief and these two guys are incredible shooters. That can’t be debated.”
So it’s settled. Curry-Thompson, followed by everyone else.
“I’ve been listening and watching and all the reactions,” Jackson said of the discussion his comments the last few days have generated. “You have to understand, I’m not comparing them as a tandem to the greats. But I am saying as a tandem shooting the basketball, to me it’s not even a debate. The closest I came up with that I’ve seen, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek were two very good shooters. These two guys, when you’re talking about putting all-time greats in a room, they’re going to go in the room and they very well can come out. You can’t say that about any other tandem that’s played. It’s who they are. They were born to shoot the basketball. There’s no other two players in a backcourt together that were born to shoot the basketball.”
The actual pressing issue in the Golden State backcourt is that Curry sprained his left ankle – not the one that required surgery in 2012 – Tuesday night in Denver and is still sore enough that he did not practice Thursday. He said he “maybe” would have been able to play if Game 3 was later the same night and that he “probably” will be ready Friday night.