At this point, most people can agree that there are two options in the "best point guard ever" debate: Magic Johnson and Stephen Curry. On Monday, Gilbert Arenas, on his podcast, asked Curry point blank to answer the question for himself.
"Are you the best point guard ever?" Arenas asked. Curry, after some thought, answered, "Yes."
"It's me and Magic, is that the conversation?" Curry said.
Yes, that's the conversation, and it's one in which reasonable minds can disagree. Magic has a lot of points on his side of the ledger, starting with the five championships to Curry's four. Johnson possessed extreme positional size. He was arguably the greatest passer to ever live and one of the most unstoppable transition players period. You can't remove nostalgia from the equation. It's part of it. And it's on Johnson's side.
For Curry, obviously he's the greatest shooter and one of the best scorers ever. A lot of people think that removes Curry from the "traditional point guard" conversation, but I'm not one of them. A point guard's responsibility is to get his team the best shot possible as often as possible. If you happen to be the best guy to take a given shot, giving it to someone else for the sake of being a "real point guard" is ludicrous.
In effect, we pump Magic up in this particular conversation because he wasn't a good shooter. If he was, he would've shot more. Curry taking advantage of his best skill is no different than Magic taking advantage of his, and a traditionalist docking Curry points in this debate because he's equally capable of playing off the ball makes little sense when we so often laud Jonson's versatility as a guy who famously played center in the Finals as a rookie.
In the end, it's hard to argue that Johnson, factoring everything in, had more impact on the game as an offensive player than Curry does. Also, we forget that Johnson was an awful defender. This was known. James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, so many of these great modern point guards suffer in some way in these conversations because of their defensive limitations, but oddly that hole in Magic's game almost never gets mentioned.
Curry has become a legitimately good team defender, which is what matters most, and he holds up better one on one far better than his reputation would suggest. The eras are different, and everyone will weight that factor differently. That notwithstanding, clearly I think the answer here is Curry, especially when you consider that he's far from done.
But again, reasonable minds can disagree on this. It's Magic Johnson for crying out loud. You're not crazy if you still think he's the standard. Curry himself acknowledged that much, and most importantly, Curry was asked this question. What else is he going to say? There are at least 10 players in the league right now that if you asked them if they're the best player in the world, they would say yes. The level of self belief athletes of this magnitude possess is largely what makes them what they are in the first place.
"Obviously I have to answer [myself]," Curry said, "but to your point, Magic's resume is ridiculous. So the fact that we're even having that conversation is a place that I never thought I'd be in."