Modern Day Geniuses: Steph Curry & Lin-Manuel Miranda

There is simply no historical comparison for Steph Curry in basketball. He is doing things that no other player has ever done, by a significant margin. In 2015, Curry made 286 three-point shots, breaking his own NBA record of 272 set in 2013. This season, he broke that record in just 58 games and to top it off, made his 400th three-pointer in the 82nd and final game of the regular season, finishing the season with 402 threes. To put that in perspective, the next three highest players in history besides Curry (teammate Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, and Dennis Scott) have made 276, 269, and 267 three-pointers in a season respectively. Always shooting like he is running out of time, Curry shot 240 more three-pointers this year than in 2015, yet increased his made three-point field goal percentage by over a full percentage point. Don’t be surprised when your history books mention him.

Another person changing the game on a different type of stage is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He has brought a new found enthusiasm to Broadway musicals. His groundbreaking show, “Hamilton”, based on the American Revolution and the life of “ten dollar founding father” Alexander Hamilton, is doing to Broadway what Steph’s own revolution is doing to the NBA. Lin-Manuel is both the star and writer of the musical, playing the title role of Alexander Hamilton. “Hamilton” is the hottest ticket in New York right now and all celebrities that can, from actors to rock stars to athletes all the way to the President of the United States, have seen and praised it.

The two biggest must see attractions of the last year have captured the zeitgeist of the country and will have a lasting impact on the future of their respective fields. Like Curry, Lin-Manuel’s work also has eye popping statistics that simply dwarf the preconceived status quo of what is possible and turned the world upside down. According to FiveThirtyEight, “Hamilton”, with a combination of hip-hop, pop, and R&B music, averages 144 words per minute during its two hour and twenty three minute performance. That pace is TWICE the words per minute of the next highest musical, “Spring Awakening”, which has 77 words per minute. Lin-Manuel needed to squeeze in every second he could to try to fit all of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s important life events into a two act musical. Lin-Manuel is the only person who can make Steph’s three-point record seem reasonable by comparison. Both stay in the confounds of the preexisting “rules” of their art forms, but changed what can be done inside that box. One has stretched how far you could you take your shot, while the other gets more done in less than time than anyone has ever seen.

These modern day geniuses did not get to their peaks overnight. Over the last decade, history has had its eyes on Steph and Lin-Manuel, monitoring their respective ascents to greatness. While their paths might not have crossed yet, their rise up their professions has been surprisingly parallel.

2007 – Young Steph Curry completes his freshman year of college at Davidson University. Just a three star recruit, he did not receive any scholarship offers from major schools, even from his dad’s alma mater Virginia Tech. That same year, Lin-Manuel Miranda does some studying of his own and reads “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow while on vacation, which would later become the inspiration for his musical.

2008 – This was the first coming out party for both future stars. Sophomore Steph Curry takes underdog Davidson to NCAA tournament and carries his team to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The young, scrappy, and hungry guard scored over 30 points in all four of his tournament games and was named Most Outstanding Player in his region despite his team not reaching the Final Four. Meanwhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first musical “In The Heights” premieres on Broadway. Lin-Manuel both wrote and starred in the musical. He would win his first Tony Award later that year for Best Original Score.

2009 – Steph Curry enters the NBA Draft after his junior season at Davidson. He is drafted 7th overall by the Golden State Warriors and the basketball world would never be the same. Later that year, Lin Manuel-Miranda is invited to Washington to perform at the White House Poetry Jam. Instead of doing one of his old songs, he decides to try out the opening song from “Hamilton” for the very first time in front of the president and company. It was met with laughter and skepticism at the time, but in hindsight it was the first glimpse at what would become the famous opening song from the musical.

2009-2014 – For the next few years, both men continue working on their crafts and perfecting their skills. Curry plays his first few seasons in the NBA. He is immediately a successful shooter, but it takes him a few seasons to become a team leader and all star. He also battled his greatest foe of his career, injuries. He had a string of nagging ankle injuries that made him such a liability that the Warriors only gave him a four year, $44 million dollar extension in 2012. That extension makes Curry only the 5th highest salary on his team and just 61st in the NBA. Fortunately, the injuries ended up not derailing him permanently, and the Warriors became one of the best teams in the league entering the 2014-2015 season. During this same period, Miranda writes “Hamilton” and begins the process of making it into a musical. For a few years, he is in charge of finding investors, actors, musicians, directors, costume and set designers, and everyone else associated with a musical. All of this is leads to “Hamilton”’s off-Broadway debut in February of 2015. During this time, both Steph and Lin-Manuel were having meteoric rises up their professions. Steph showed glimpses of what he would become in the present, while Lin-Manuel’s “Hamilton” songs were being previewed at some New York City events, and word was spreading fast on what was to come.

May 2015 – Steph Curry is named NBA MVP for the first time. During the 2015 season, Curry put all of his skills and hard work together and took his game to another level. He averaged 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game, while also shooting over 50% from the field, 44% from three, and 91% from the free throw line.

June 2015 – The Golden State Warriors wins the NBA Championship over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Steph didn’t miss his shot at a ring.

August 2015 – “Hamilton” makes its Broadway debut at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It receives almost universally positive reviews from critics and theatre fans alike, quickly becoming the talk of the town.

November and December 2015 – Not satisfied after their championship, the Warriors open their title defense season by winning 24 straight games, the most ever for a team to start a season. Curry scores over 40 points in seven of those games during the streak.

February 2016 – Hamilton wins the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.The cast album has been streamed on Spotify over 148 million times since its release (only a few thousand of those streams were by me).

April 2016 – Steph Curry and the Warriors win an NBA record 73rd game of the regular season, passing Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls for the best regular season team in history. Curry scores 46 points in the final game and hits his aforementioned 400th three pointer of the season. A few days later, Lin-Manuel Miranda wins the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

May 2016 – Curry wins back to back MVP awards. He becomes the first player to ever win the MVP award unanimously. “Hamilton” gets into the award business as well, receiving 16 Tony Awards nominations, the first musical to ever achieve that distinction.

June 2016 – The Warriors look to get back to the NBA Finals, while the cast and crew of “Hamilton” await the Tony Awards. Next month could arguably be the culmination for Curry’s Warriors as the greatest team ever and Miranda’s “Hamilton” as the greatest musical ever. If the Warriors win the championship with the best regular season of all time, then many will argue that they just had the greatest season in NBA History. Likewise, if Hamilton wins 13 Tony Awards (the highest amount it is eligible for since it received multiple nominations in acting categories), it will be the most decorated musical of all time. Yet, there are still a million things the stars of these teams haven’t done. The world will continue to follow both of these young geniuses of their craft as they continue to rewrite what is possible.

The impact of both of these figures cannot be understated. The country’s next generation will surely be influenced by what these two have done. Steph Curry is now the most popular player in the NBA and young kids everywhere will grow up emulating his game. They will shoot from further and further away and practice their craft in their driveways like their hero Steph. Likewise, Lin-Manuel Miranda has made history cool for kids. “Hamilton” includes cabinet meetings set as rap battles and tells the story of our founding fathers in a way that is accessible and timeless. Classrooms everywhere will use “Hamilton” to help teach students history and the story of how hard work and perseverance can you lead anywhere in life. The same story that Steph and Lin-Manuel show the world every time they step on their individual stages.

-Nick Bair


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Photo Credit:, Theo Vargo/Getty Images


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