Currying Favor: LeBron and Westbrook Join Ranks of Mid-Major Deniers

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, anointed NBA Most Valuable Player the previous two seasons while shattering the league's record for most three-pointers, neither is too small nor too fragile. What is too small and fragile are the brains of any genius who overlooked the Davidson All-American for significantly inferior performers as a high school recruit, those who subsequently bypassed him in a similar fashion in the NBA draft and blabbermouth such as Charles Barkley claiming Curry is "just a shooter." Whether or not it's simply superficial envy because Curry continues his reign as the best-selling NBA jersey, even LeBron James and Russell Westbrook appear annoyed with his hype.

Legendary Oscar Robertson came close to joining the condemnation chorus by saying "coaches today don't know anything about defenses." The Big O scored more valid points than Sir Charles on the state of the game but their "mid-major" mistake was including Curry in any critique. By any measure, Curry can compete in any era against anybody after becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Knuckleheads offended by Curry's dynamo daughter at a post-game press conference podium should save their angst for those individuals on a basketball payroll despite shunning Curry - occasionally including media or front-office colleagues.

In retrospect, it defies belief ESPN "expert" Seth Greenberg wasn't among their series of layoffs after boasting the gall to patronize Virginia Tech All-American Dell Curry's son by offering a spot on the Hokies' roster as a walk-on before the Minnesota Timberwolves picked long-forgotten Jonny Flynn one slot ahead of the incomparable Curry in 2009. In other words, Greenberg and the Timberwolves are the only individual and pro team capable of stopping Curry. Of course, Loyola (Md.) is the only college capable of containing Curry, holding the nation's top point producer scoreless in 2008-09.

In a previous non-sexist straightforward generation when fifty-something Hannah Storm also dressed like a teenager, Stockton-to-Malone could have been a hallmark of the Washington Bullets/Wizards rather than the Utah Jazz if there were more astute judgments made in 1984 and 1985 between mid-major and SEC/ACC players. Smug egghead prosecutors seeking face time appealing to low-information voters by indicting hard-working policemen probably would have more stature probing low-intelligence individuals previously laying an egg bypassing workmanlike Curry. Following is an alphabetical list of mid-major standouts selected behind players from current power conference members before they became league MVP such as Curry, Finals MVP, appeared in five or more All-Star Games or all-time Top 10 in assists, blocked shots, rebounds or steals:

Mid-Major Standout (Draft Pick Overall) College Year Players From Current Power League Member Chosen Ahead of Standout
Tiny Archibald (19) Texas-El Paso 1970 Jim Ard (Cincinnati)/Gary Freeman (Oregon State)/Al Henry (Wisconsin)/Mike Price (Illinois)/John Vallely (UCLA)
Maurice Cheeks (36) West Texas State 1978 Marty Byrnes (Syracuse)/Harry Davis (Florida State)/Jack Givens (Kentucky)/Butch Lee (Marquette)/Wayne Radford (Indiana)/Raymond Townsend (UCLA)/Rick Wilson (Louisville)
Larry Costello (12) Niagara 1954 Ed Kalafat (Minnesota)/Bob Mattick (Oklahoma State)/Dick Rosenthal (Notre Dame)
Stephen Curry (7) Davidson 2009 Jonny Flynn (Syracuse)/Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut)
Joe Dumars (18) McNeese State 1985 Uwe Blab (Indiana)/Kenny Green (Wake Forest)/Keith Lee (Memphis State)
Wayne Embry (23) Miami (Ohio) 1958 Pete Brennan (North Carolina)/Archie Dees (Indiana)/Roy DeWitz (Kansas State)/Vern Hatton (Kentucky)/Frank Howard (Ohio State)/John Nacincik (Maryland)/Joe Quigg (North Carolina)/Lamar Sharrar (West Virginia)
Walt Frazier (5) Southern Illinois 1967 Sonny Dove (St. John's)
Hal Greer (14) Marshall 1958 Pete Brennan (North Carolina)/Archie Dees (Indiana)/Vern Hatton (Kentucky)/Joe Quigg (North Carolina)/Lamar Sharrar (West Virginia)
Richie Guerin (17) Iona 1954 Dick Farley (Indiana)/Ed Kalafat (Minnesota)/Bob Mattick (Oklahoma State)/Dick Rosenthal (Notre Dame)
Dennis Johnson (29) Pepperdine 1976 Bob Carrington (Boston College)/Norm Cook (Kansas)/Jacky Dorsey (Georgia)/Scott Lloyd (Arizona State)/Willie Smith (Missouri)/Chuckie Williams (Kansas State)
Gus Johnson (11) Idaho 1963 Art Heyman (Duke)/Tom Hoover (Villanova)/Tom Thacker (Cincinnati)/Gerry Ward (Boston College)
Sam Jones (8) North Carolina Central 1957 George BonSalle (Illinois)/Lennie Rosenbluth (North Carolina)/Win Wilfong (Memphis State)
Rudy LaRusso (12) Dartmouth 1959 Don Goldstein (Louisville)/John Richter (North Carolina State)/Joe Ruklick (Northwestern)
Karl Malone (13) Louisiana Tech 1985 Kenny Green (Wake Forest)/Keith Lee (Memphis State)
Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell (12) UNC Charlotte 1977 Tom LaGarde (North Carolina)
Steve Nash (15) Santa Clara 1996 Todd Fuller (North Carolina State)
Willis Reed (10) Grambling 1964 Gary Bradds (Ohio State)/George Wilson (Cincinnati)
John Stockton (16) Gonzaga 1984 Lancaster Gordon (Louisville)/Terence Stansbury (Temple)/Melvin Turpin (Kentucky)
Nate Thurmond (4) Bowling Green 1963 Art Heyman (Duke)/Tom Thacker (Cincinnati)
Chet Walker (14) Bradley 1962 Paul Hogue (Cincinnati)/John Rudometkin (Southern California)

NOTE: Drafts in 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963 and 1964 included territorial picks.