The greatest shooter ever put on a show for the greatest players ever.
The 2022 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland was in danger of being anticlimactic after a lengthy halftime presentation of the 75th Anniversary Team, but Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry made five straight 3-pointers in less than two minutes to steal the show midway through an electric third quarter.
The MVP award was a foregone conclusion at that point.
"It definitely was something I wanted to experience," Curry told reporters of his desire to win the award, "and once I kind of knew I was feeling it, you kind of wanted to ride that wave and see how it ended up."
Curry finally broke the streak on a heat check heave from halfcourt that missed the mark. He made seven of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc in the quarter and 16 of 27 on the night. He nearly doubled Paul George's previous All-Star Game record of nine made 3-pointers. No one has ever made more 3-pointers in an NBA game. Curry's Warriors teammate, Klay Thompson, owns the regular-season record of 14 triples.
A floater in the fourth quarter gave Curry 50 points. He missed six chances to tie or break Anthony Davis' All-Star Game scoring record of 52 points — his arms tired from slinging so many arrows.
Team LeBron led Sunday's game 139-138 after three quarters, setting the target final score at 163 (24 more than the leading team's score entering the fourth quarter). Chicago Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan gave Team LeBron a 161-155 advantage on an elbow jump shot. Curry had one more chance to set the scoring record and win the game for Team LeBron, but his final attempt fell short. LeBron James took matters into his own hands on the next possession, drilling a 17-foot fadeaway jumper to seal a 163-160 victory for his team.
Only Joel Embiid threatened Curry's MVP chances, but the Philadelphia 76ers center's 36 points, 10 rebounds and four assists were not nearly enough to overcome an all-time effort from the best shooter ever.
"He was making shots all over the place," said Embiid.
Curry now owns All-Star Game records for most 3-pointers made in a half (eight, which he did twice on Sunday), most 3-pointers made in a single game and most 3-pointers made in a career (47 and counting).
"This guy is from a different planet," James said of Curry, the captain's second overall pick in the All-Star draft. "He literally has an automatic sniper connected to his arm, and when he lets it go, not only himself, but everybody on the floor, in the stands, on TV, on their phones, whatever you are watching on, you think it's going in every time. Nine times out of 10, and sometimes 10 times out of 10, it does go in."
Curry won the MVP award in the second year since it was named for the late Kobe Bryant. The trophy was redesigned this year to reflect a number of aspects of Bryant's Hall of Fame career. It was Curry's first All-Star Game MVP honor, rounding out a trophy case that includes two regular season MVPs and three titles.
The NBA reimagined the Kobe Bryant Trophy for the Kia All-Star Game MVP, and the details are AWESOME 🐍🏆 pic.twitter.com/aSaFU40EDN
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 21, 2022
"This is definitely special," said Curry. "The first year you got to honor Kobe and his life and his legacy with this trophy. All the thought that went into it. I can't spit it off the top of my head, but I know that everything on this trophy means something in terms of his life and what he represented, accomplishments on the court, and to have it be an All-Star MVP trophy and for it to be the first one, it definitely makes it special.
"I've only won one, and to have this one, it will have a special place at my house."
Curry's three championships, all won against the Cavaliers, elicited pregame boos from Cleveland fans, but even they could not keep from cheering one of the great All-Star Game performances in history.
"There's history here, and the fans I think appreciate it, but it comes out in the form of boos, and I enjoy it because it's not the first time, not the last time," said Curry. "It takes some energy to boo, so you got to care a lot to do that. I tried to channel that into the performance tonight and just have fun with it. I got hot early and kept it going, and tried to put on a little bit of a show. The joy started to come out, and hopefully everybody appreciated it."
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