Column: Why the Magic & Steph PG debate won’t end anytime soon

Aug 31, 2023, 8:00 AM

Guard Earvin (Magic) Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball during a game....

Guard Earvin (Magic) Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball during a game.

(Magic)

Steph Curry inadvertently popped the top on a giant can o’ fish bait last week when Gilbert Arenas asked him if he was the best point guard ever.

“Yes,” Curry answered. “It’s me and Magic, that’s the conversation?”

Next thing you knew, everybody from Jerry Reynolds and Matt Barnes on Sactown Sports (both pro-Magic) to Shaquille O’Neal (pro-Steph) was weighing in.

It’s pretty cool by the way that while there is disagreement over who the best point guard ever is, everybody seems to agree that it’s either Magic or Steph.

Both changed the game with highly entertaining efficiency.

Steph won two MVPs, Magic won three. Steph won the Finals MVP Award once, Magic won it three times.

In fact, the only award Steph Curry won that Magic didn’t was the Western Conference Finals MVP Award in 2022, aptly named the “Magic Johnson Award.” There was no such award when Magic played.

Some, including Michigan State alum and Steph teammate Draymond Green, have tried to side-step the question with the opinion that “Steph’s not really a point guard.”

Okay, but aren’t we really just asking who the better player is, regardless of position? Steph Curry’s game and history are hard to break down in these “Best Ever” debates because he changed the narrative during the course of his career.

While greats like Magic, Bird, and Kobe came into the league with much fanfare and high expectations, nobody even started looking at Curry in those terms until his first MVP Award in 2015. He has forced his way into the conversation and didn’t quiet critics who said he couldn’t carry a team by himself until he did so in the 2022 Finals, 13 years into his career.

A lot of the long-standing resistance to the idea of him as an all-time great still lingers. There are still those who will only go so far as to call him “the greatest shooter ever.” That’s why the debate isn’t over. Curry still has the time, ability, and motivation to continue to force that narrative his way.

As for Magic? He’s been uncharacteristically quiet on this one. My guess would be that Magic, if pressed, would say this: “MJ says I’m the best, so I don’t need to say anything. Cause he’s the GOAT.”

But then Steph might say the GOAT is LeBron.

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