Recent comments from a former NBA player have sparked the conversation to compare the career of Stephen Curry and Larry Bird. Gilbert Arenas, most notably of the Washington Wizards, recently claimed that Stephen Curry should replace Larry Bird on the Top 10 players of the all-time list. Arenas’ comments were met with harsh criticism and backlash from NBA fans as they tried to make sense of Gilbert’s take.
One thing I can say for certain, Larry Bird and Stephen Curry are two of the best players to ever step foot in the NBA, and when we compare them, we must remember that Larry Bird was one of the best players of the 80s collecting 3 championships, 3 MVPs, and 2 Finals MVPs over the course of his career with the Boston Celtics. Stephen Curry has cemented himself as the greatest shooter of all time and one of the most influential players ever as well. He has 2 MVPs of his own along with 4 championships and 1 Finals MVP during his career with the Golden State Warriors. Now, let's take a deeper dive into their careers and compare them accordingly.
This is the comparison of the careers of Larry Bird and Stephen Curry.

Curry: 4 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022)
Larry Bird: 3 (1981, 1984, 1986)
Each of these 2 players has led their respective franchises on more than one occasion to an NBA championship. Stephen Curry first led the Warriors to the promised land in 2015 with a win over the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. That would be the start of 5 straight trips to the NBA Finals for Curry and the Warriors who tallied a 3-2 record on the big stage. Golden State grabbed another NBA championship this past season in 2022 with Curry leading the charge once again. In 34 total Finals games in his career, Curry is averaging 27.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG 43.2% shooting overall, and 39.5% from three.
Larry Bird led his Boston Celtics team to 3 championships in the 1980s out of 5 total appearances. In 1981, Bird and the Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets in 6 games to capture Bird’s first title. Bird would lead Boston to NBA glory once again in 1984 with a 7-game series win over the Lakers. This time, Bird would take home the Finals MVP award as the best player in the series. He would do the same thing once again in 1986 in a series win again over the Rockets, whom they defeated in 6 games. In 31 Finals games in his career, Bird averaged 23.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, and 6.0 APG.
Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry: 1 (2022)
Larry Bird: 2 (1984, 1986)
Stephen Curry and Larry Bird have each stepped up in the biggest moments on the biggest stage to deliver NBA championships to their respective squads. Stephen Curry grabbed his only Finals MVP just this past season in 2022 when he led the Warriors to a 6-game series victory over the Boston Celtics. Many believe it should have been Curry in 2015 who should have been given the honor instead of teammate Andre Iguodala. This time around, Curry left no doubt in the voters' minds as he averaged 31.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG to lead the Warriors to victory. He also shot 43.7% from three and 48.2% overall.
Larry Bird didn’t win Finals MVP when his team won in 1981, but he secured the award the next 2 times they took home the title. In 1984, Bird averaged 27.4 PPG, 14.0 RPG, and 3.6 APG to take down the rival Lakers in 7 games. Bird would win once again in 1984 when they matched up with the Houston Rockets. This time, Bird and the Celtics took down the Rockets in 6 games. He averaged 24.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 9.5 APG, this time around to be named Finals MVP.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 2 (2015, 2016)
Larry Bird: 3 (1984, 1985, 1986)
Stephen Curry was easily one of the best players of the 2010s and that was solidified by his back-to-back MVP awards in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, Curry burst into the spotlight with his first MVP when he averaged 23.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 6.7 APG. He shot 44.3% from three and led the league in free throw percentage. The Warriors finished with a 67-15 record. The following season, Stephen Curry became the first and only unanimous MVP in NBA history. He led the league in scoring with 30.1 PPG and steals with 2.1 SPG. The Warriors finished the season with the best team record in NBA history at 73-10, making Curry an easy choice for the MVP.
Just as Curry was in the 2010s, Bird was one of the best players in the 80s, securing 3 straight MVPs from 1984 to 1986. In 1984, Bird won the MVP by averaging 24.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 1.8 SPG. His Celtics would go on to win the NBA Finals. The following season, Bird averaged 28.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, and 1.6 SPG to win the award. Finally, he won it one more time in 1986 when he averaged 25.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 6.8 APG, and 2.0 SPG. Once again, the Boston Celtics went on to claim the NBA title.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 8 (4 First Team, 3 Second Team, 1 Third Team)
Larry Bird: 10 (9 First Team, 1 Second Team)
When you dominate the NBA as long as these 2 stars did, you are bound to rack up the All-NBA Team selections. Stephen Curry earned his first 2 All-NBA First Team selections in both years that he claimed MVP in 2015 and 2016. When you’re dubbed the best player in the world, that is bound to happen. He claimed another First Team selection in 2019 when he averaged 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 5.2 APG on 43.7% shooting from deep. His last First Team selection came in 2021 when he led the league in scoring with 32.0 PPG, but the Warriors failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Larry Bird was consistent atop the NBA as far as accolades, evidenced by his 9 straight All-NBA First Team selections from 1980 through 1988. Over those 9 seasons, Bird averaged 25.0 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 6.1 APG, and 1.8 SPG. He also shot 50.6% from the field overall and 37.3% from deep. During this time, he led the Celtics to 3 NBA championships and won 3 MVP awards. This is further evidence of Larry Bird’s dominance in the 80s.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 8
Larry Bird: 12
This is another category that can change with a little more time as Stephen Curry is sure to grab a few more All-Star selections before his career ends. Despite being drafted in 2009, Stephen Curry didn’t develop into an All-Star until the 2013-14 season. He has been an All-Star in 7 of the 8 seasons that followed as well, aside from the 2019-20 season where Curry played in only 5 games because of an injury. Curry also took home his first All-Star Game MVP in the 2021-22 season when he put on a shooting display that nearly brought the arena down.
Larry Bird, on the other hand, was an All-Star from the moment he stepped on the NBA floor. Bird would be named an All-Star in his rookie season in 1980, a streak that would last until the 1989 season when he was limited to just 6 games due to chronic back issues. He would return to All-Star status in 1990 and earn 2 more selections after that to finish out his career. Bird earned 1982 All-Star Game MVP honors when he dropped 19 points on 7-12 shooting in just 28 minutes of play.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 0
Larry Bird: 3 (3 Second Team)
As electric as he is on the offensive side of the ball, Curry has never been considered one of the better defenders in the league. While he isn’t exactly a bad defender, he has never elevated himself above the rest to earn an All-Defensive Team Selection. His best chance at a selection was probably in the 2015-16 season when he led the league in steals with 2.1 SPG. As he gets older, Stephen Curry’s usage will be to continue to be the offensive juggernaut he has been for the past 9 years. You can expect the zero next to his name to remain there when his career is all said and done.
Larry Bird was more of a well-known defender than Curry by quite a large margin. For his career, Bird averaged 1.7 SPG and 0.8 BPG during the regular season and 1.8 SPG and 0.9 BPG in the playoffs. Bird was named to 3 All-Defensive Teams in his career, all as a member of the Second Team. He earned the honors 3 years straight from 1982 through 1984. Over that time, Bird averaged 2.0 SPG and 0.9 BPG while elevating to the best player in the league offensively as well.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 120.2
Larry Bird: 145.8
With the way things are trending, this looks like it could be a category that Stephen Curry catches Larry Bird in before his career is over. Win shares is a stat that tries to measure a specific player’s impact on his team's success. Both of these players played significant roles in leading their teams to victory. Curry spent 5 years in a row from 2013 through 2017 with over 11.0 total win shares on the season each year. He led the NBA in his 2016 MVP season with 17.9 win shares on the year. He currently sits 50th on the NBA’s all-time list in total win shares.
Just like Curry, Bird was the most valuable player to his franchise for most of his career as well. For 9 straight seasons starting in his 1980 rookie season, Bird put together 9 straight seasons of 10.5 win shares or more. He led the league in win shares in back-to-back seasons in 1985 and 1986, 2 of his 3 MVP seasons. He led the league in Defensive Win Shares 4 times and on offense 1 time. His 145.8 total win shares for his career ranks 29th on the all-time list.
Advantage: Larry Bird
Stephen Curry: 23.8
Larry Bird: 23.5
PER or player efficiency rating is a measurement of both the positive and negative things a player can do on the basketball court. Both of these players have exceptional career PER numbers as should be expected. Curry has a slightly higher PER than Bird at 23.8. Curry's PER has been over 20.0 since his 3rd season in 2012. His PER hit its highest in his 2016 MVP season when he led the league with 31.5 PER and 66.9 TS%. His 23.8 PER ranks 20th on the all-time list.
You would be hard-pressed to find anything that either of these players did wrong on the basketball court. Bird’s PER sits at 23.5 for his career, which ranks 23rd on the all-time list, 3 spots behind Curry. Bird’s PER began at 20.5 in 1980 and only dipped below 20.0 3 years in his career. He led the league in PER in his 1985 and 1986 MVP seasons with 26.5 in 1985 and 25.6 in 1986. The fact that these two sit so close in career PER speaks volumes about their talent and abilities as all-time greats.
Advantage: Stephen Curry
I believe it was a bit premature of Gilbert Arenas to already throw Stephen Curry’s name in the conversation of being a greater all-time player than Larry Bird. Does Stephen Curry have a case right now? Yes. To deny that is to simply hang on to the history of the game a little too tight. Is it a forgone conclusion, as Arenas so vehemently stated? A resounding no. I understand Curry’s impact on the game and the way he has changed the way it is played with his other-worldly shooting range and accuracy. I think that Bird’s impact goes a bit underrated as well.
Larry Bird and his rivalry with Magic Johnson can be credited with pulling the NBA out of the basement at a time when it was on the verge of disbanding. Bird had an impact on the game that every modern-day player should be thankful for. Enough of the criticism of his talent and ability. You have to be pretty darn talented to rival a player like Magic Johnson as well as take home 3 MVP awards, 3 championships, and 2 Finals MVP awards. Each of their legacies speaks for itself and will be remembered forever in NBA history. For now, Larry Bird still resides slightly higher all-time than Stephen Curry.  




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