With less than two minutes to play in the 1980 NCAA title game, the scored knotted at 54, Darrell Griffith dribbled into the frontcourt against significant defensive pressure from the UCLA Bruins, scurrying back to cover.
Louisville Cardinal teammates on Griffith’s flanks filled the lanes, but were checked.
There was no direct lane to the bucket.
Seizing the moment, the paradigm of carpe diem, Griffith stopped on a dime eighteen feet from the hoop at a slight angle at the outer edge of the left elbow, and elevated.
I distinctly remember thinking as he was launching the jumper, “This is the shot he has been waiting to take his whole life. He won’t miss it.”
Most of us addled with this game of basketball recall similarly transcendent moments, scenes of our own greatest memories.
Plays of such substance, style, technique, plays that were game changers, or season changers, or simply of such magnificence at the instant they remain forever indelible.
Larry Bird, the steal on an inbounds pass with seconds to play, the one handed pass to Dennis Johnson for the most improbable of victories, decimating the Detroit Pistons.
Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Dr. J or Earl Monroe many times over and again.
Pete Maravich lifting a one bounce, one hand, left hand pass ahead off the dribble on a fast break to a covered teammate in the Pan American Trials for a how did he get it there for the deuce deuce.
It is when basketball turns Balanchine. Poetics in motion.
* * * * *
Which brings me to where all hoops considerations seem to gravitate these days.
And the legitimate rumination: Has anybody ever before done what he is now doing routinely?
Oscar? Connie Hawkins? The usual suspects mentioned above?
While understanding that the human tendency is to forget, to revere the present, extol its virtues above those from the past, I am inclined to believe that Curry has taken the game to places it’s never been before.
At this point, I shall avoid my inclination to attempt to try to describe Steph Curry’s play.
There are no words.
Watch. You decide.
— Seedy K