Steph Curry, Tim Hardaway set high bar for next Warriors point guard

Hardaway, Steph have set bar high for next Dubs point guard originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Pity the next point guard the Warriors draft in the top half of the first round, for he will be chasing ghosts.

Being an All-Star won’t measure up to his predecessors. To properly carry the franchise PG flag, whomever follows Stephen Curry must also be a catalyst to revolution, as Steph is.

And as Tim Hardaway was.

Curry’s ascent to superstardom placed a premium on 3-point shooting, particularly the deep 3, which led to increased emphasis on spacing. To watch basketball today, regardless of gender or level, is to see his influence.

Precisely 20 years before drafting Curry seventh overall in 2009, the Warriors selected Tim Hardaway 14th overall. His scintillating crossover dribble move brought an entirely new dimension to one-on-one offense.

“I just dribbled; I loved to dribble,” says Hardaway told NBC Sport Bay Area this week, ahead of his induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Saturday. “I just loved to make people break their ankles or cross their feet and stumble.”

Though others had made rare and halting use of the crossover, Hardaway was the first to make it so effective and popular that others studied it and stole from his book. See Iverson, Allen. Or Rose, Derrick. Both adopted the crossover and in the process became NBA MVP award winners.

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Hardaway opened eyes by using the crossover with regularity and stunning success. He conceived it as youngster in Chicago, perfected at the University of Texas El Paso – calling it the “UTEP two-step.”

“That’s when I knew I had a move,” Hardaway recalls of his four years with the Miners.

Shortly after entering the NBA, Hardaway then patented the move and began embarrassing defenders.

Hardaway cites cold Chicago winters as necessitating invention. Forced inside with his basketball, he resorted to dribbling drills in an unfinished basement, utilizing pillars and posts defenders.

“I was going at game speed all the time,” he recalls. “That’s where it comes from, just me dribbling. Repetition, repetition, doing stuff all the time down in the basement.”

Rarely does an NBA game go by without a crossover dribble move. What began with Hardaway and then Rod Strickland has become a tool all great ballhandlers have. From Iverson to Jason “White Chocolate” Williams and Steve Francis.

The leading practitioners in today’s NBA? Rose, in a diminished role from his MVP prime, Kyrie Irving and LaMelo Ball.

And, yes, Curry.

“It takes work. It takes practice. You just don’t do it,” Hardaway says. “When I was in grammar school and high school, I worked on moves. That was the move I went to all the time. And perfected it.”

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RELATED: Steph’s ability to quiet skeptics leaves Hardaway in awe

Sometime in the next few years, the Warriors will draft their point guard of the future. If he wants to seize the torch carried by Hardaway and Curry, he’ll have to do as they did and earn the privilege of being considered the best player in his draft.

And he’ll have to be better than good. He’ll need to be special, even influential.

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