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OAKLAND – Steve Nash seized the torch from John Stockton, who picked it up from Isiah Thomas, who grabbed it from Nate Archibald, who got it from Guy Rodgers, who lifted it from the original, Bob Cousy.
And now, with Nash first fading out of view and then into retirement, the NBA's "little general" torch finds itself in the hands of Stephen Curry.
There is a very clear lineage here of point guards seemingly assembled in the same factory, with considerable welding and testing. They were all cut from the same cloth, probably burlap. Each had to travel the same path, forced to prove he wasn't too short or too skinny or too fragile or too slow.
And each not only survived but also thrived, wiping out skepticism and, pass after incredible pass, victory after impressive victory, crushing doubt into submission.
Each revered, on some if not every level, the man who came before him – none more than Curry admired Nash.
[REWIND: Kerr, Curry react to Nash announcement]
"He was just pure creativity," Curry told CSN Bay Area, "the way he could pass with both hands, and it never seemed like he was blowing by people, but he was changing speeds and controlling the ball. With the way he shot, it was a double-edged sword, where you kind of had to pick your poison."
Noting the similarities he shares with Nash, Curry has long acknowledged that the major influence on his point guard play is Nash.
"He had a little flash to his game, stuff that you'd want to try on the blacktop, like when I was growing up in middle school and high school," Curry said. "He was the average-looking NBA player, and then he'd go out and dominate.
"You always knew you'd be entertained when watching him play. Usually, he was going to do something special."
Curry and Nash shared like challenges as teenagers. Neither had impressive speed or explosion. Neither had a sturdy physique. Neither was a decorated prep fortunate enough to sift through hundreds, or even dozens, of scholarship opportunities.
Curry ended up at Davidson, his hometown college in Charlotte. Nash ended up at Santa Clara because it was the only school that showed faith. Neither school is remotely close to a basketball powerhouse, and each became the best player in the history of his school.
"I didn't know much about his background story until I got to college, where you start becoming aware of how people got to where they are," Curry said. "That was a pretty cool comparison. We played similarly, had similar skill sets and kind of took similar paths."
Curry then paused for a moment, perhaps long enough to recall where the paths began to diverge.
Curry through his heroics in the NCAA Tournament, became a star at Davidson, though there still were enough skeptics that he was the seventh player – and third point guard – drafted in 2009, by the Warriors. Although he spent a couple years in the shadow of Monta Ellis, it was evident almost from the start that Curry was going to be the face of the Warriors.
Nash attracted attention at Santa Clara, though there were many more skeptics. He was the 15th player – and the third point guard – drafted in 1996 by the Suns. Fans in Phoenix immediately booed the selection. He was traded after two years.
Nash landed in Dallas, and that's where the Nash/Curry paths reunite. The Mavericks coach was Don Nelson – the same Don Nelson that 13 years later saw another skinny kid, Curry, and drafted him largely because he was reminded of Nash.
Under Nelson's tutelage, Curry merely showed glimpses of what he might become, how he has developed under Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr. Nash blossomed under Nelson and later, after being traded back to Phoenix, became a two-time MVP.
"He had to wait his turn, and it took a couple years before he really got his shot," Curry said of Nash. "But he was ready for the opportunity. That was the biggest lesson from that. The rest is history."