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Steph Curry breaks NBA career record for 3-pointers

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to sports and the NBA, where yesterday, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors became the league's greatest long-range shooter. Curry broke the record for three-point shots and solidified himself as a player who has revolutionized basketball. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: There was no real suspense heading into last night's game at New York's Madison Square Garden. Steph Curry needed to sink just two three-pointers to break a record held by former Hall of Famer Ray Allen. He hit the first one no problem - record tied. But then with history waiting, Curry, a player so relaxed on the court he looks like one of those inflatable dancing figures outside a mattress store, didn't exactly tense up, but he said he did become aware of the moment.

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STEPHEN CURRY: I got the ball coming down, and I could see everybody on that end of the stadium start to slowly stand up, and there was, like, a buzz. So I didn't want to, like, rush it because I knew - that's when you can kind of get in your head trying to, like, force the moment.

GOLDMAN: So he didn't. And about five minutes into the first quarter...

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UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Here's Curry for the record. It's good. And there it is. Stephen Curry...

GOLDMAN: Moments after the 2,974th three-pointer of Curry's career splashed through the net, Reggie Miller provided instant context. Miller is a former three-point champ himself who did commentary for last night's game on TNT.

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REGGIE MILLER: The way he changed the game, it's almost like how Babe Ruth changed baseball with the long ball.

GOLDMAN: In his 13 NBA years, Curry has made the long-range shot an essential part of the game. According to SI.com, NBA teams averaged 18 three-point attempts per game in 2009, Curry's first season. Now, thanks to Curry glamorizing the shot, teams average over 35 - for better and worse. Purists still grumble about how players at all levels have forsaken fundamental basketball just to jack up threes. But even purists have to acknowledge Curry's brilliance and efficiency. Ray Allen took 1,300 games to set his record. Curry needed 789.

In the Garden crowd last night, Bob McKillop cheered with everyone else and undoubtedly thought back to when, as the coach at Davidson College, he recruited a skinny but talented Steph Curry. This is McKillop on NPR in 2009.

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BOB MCKILLOP: After a month of watching him in individual workouts, I went publicly and told a lot of our alums, this is a special young man.

GOLDMAN: And now he's a special 33-year-old whose record may end up being out of reach. Check that; it will be, according to Hall of Fame NBA player Charles Barkley, who does commentary for TNT. He put Curry's accomplishment alongside Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game and Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak of 56 straight games.

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CHARLES BARKLEY: He going to set a record that ain't nobody ever going to come to again, and it's beautiful to watch.

GOLDMAN: Curry speaks with his play, but last night he couldn't resist when goaded by a reporter. Who is the greatest shooter of all time? Curry raised his arms and said, I got that, baby. And no one's arguing. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.