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Golden State's Stephen Curry Perfects 3-Pointers


NBA players have been shooting 3s for years. The 3-point shot was introduced by the league in 1979. But its status as a crowd-pleasing long-range weapon was elevated again this season by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Curry broke his own record, setting a new mark for the most 3s in a single season - he sank 286 of them. As his shots have soared, so has his popularity, of course. And Curry's a big reason why the Warriors are one of the favorites as the NBA playoffs begin tomorrow. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: The NBA All-Star Game is part of an annual February weekend gathering that's really about NBA culture - fashion, music and what's cool. This time around, the 3-point contest, featuring the league's best long-range shooters, was off-the-charts cool on TNT.



UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Kenny, would it be safe to say most people here in this building have come to see this man?

KENNY SMITH: I would say it's very safe to say.

GOLDMAN: Stephen Curry, who won the contest, has become the man to see every night, and for advertisers, the man to market. His jersey is the No. 2 best-seller behind still-king LeBron James. But with the younger generation, there appears to be a new king. In January, the digital broadcast network 120 Sports released a survey that asked more than 1,400 18- to 34-year-olds who's your favorite athlete? Curry ranked No. 1. Yago Colas teaches basketball and culture at the University of Michigan. He says for a generation that demands accessibility, largely because of social media, Steph Curry - 6'3'', 185 pounds - is the accessible superstar.

YAGO COLAS: Curry is always talked about as down-to-earth and approachable and an everyman and an average guy. He's small by basketball standards and slight of frame.

GOLDMAN: And his special skill, the 3-pointer - Colas says it's accessible, too.

COLAS: We can kind of fantasize any of us could perfect if we wanted to put in the time.

GOLDMAN: Twenty-three feet, nine inches - the official distance of an NBA 3-pointer. So here we go.


GOLDMAN: Nope. And that is a really long way (laughter). I have this image of Steph Curry rising and flicking his wrist. I had to do a two-handed push from the chest. I'm going to try it again.


GOLDMAN: No, not even close.

Obviously, I have to put in more time. Curry obviously has. As points out in this video dissection of Curry's 3-point shooting, it's much more than a flick of the wrist.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This means that on the way into his shot, the ball never pauses. It's one fluid motion from the beginning of his shot to his follow-through. This allows the energy from his jump to transfer into his release. That way, he can get extra range.

GOLDMAN: There was a time decades ago when the NBA considered the 3-point shot a gimmick. Today, in an analytics-fueled sports world, scoring from beyond the arcing line that separates 2-point shots from 3s is considered an efficient offensive weapon. Again, here's Yago Colas.

COLAS: You can shoot 40 percent from 3-point range and score as many points as a 60 percent shooter from inside the arc.

GOLDMAN: Of course, nothing is more efficient or crowd-pleasing still as the shot closest to the basket - the rim-rattling dunk. Most appreciate the dunk as if in a museum - can't touch, just admire. Although after Steph Curry sank 77 straight 3-pointers in practice this week, he and his offensive weapon-of-choice may have to be roped off as well. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

GREENE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on