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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Where does Steph Curry rank in the Bay Area ‘Mount Clutchmore’ postseason scoring rankings?

Stephen Curry has it all.

He became the NBA Finals MVP and some consider this trophy to be the last part of his legacy.

In the Bay Area, we saw some amazing performances with a championship on the line. You might argue that Curry’s performance against the Boston Celtics puts him right on top of those who did their best when it mattered most.

After 40 years in the business, I’ll put Curry in 3rd place in my mythical Mount Clutchmore along with three others whose heroics have paraded through the postseason with crazy fans.

Here’s how they are ranked:

Madison Bumgarner (left) celebrates with Buster Posey after winning the 2014 World Series Final in Kansas City. José Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

1. Madison Bumgarner, Giants 2014

The mere sight of Bumgarner walking to the mound in the fifth inning of Game 7 against the Kansas City Royals was unprecedentedly high drama. He then shut out the Royals for five innings on just two days of rest and even survived a poor outfield game with two strikeouts in the ninth.

When Boomgarner forced Salvador Pérez to foul third baseman Pablo Sandoval, he completed a five-inning save, giving up just two hits. Having beaten the Royals twice in the series, Bumgarner became the most valuable player in the World Series.

If that wasn’t enough, Bumgarner also won the National League Championship Series MVP against the St. Louis Cardinals and started the Giants’ post-season run with an outright victory in Pittsburgh in a wildcard game.

Bumgarner’s postseason final line: 4-1 record with one memorable save and 1.04 earned run average per 52 innings, giving up 45 hits on six walks and 45 strikeouts.

Oakland, Ca - 1989: (File Photo) #22 Ricky Henderson At The Oakland Athletics Warm-Up For The 1989 Season Game At The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum In Oakland, California.  On January 12, 2009, Major League Baseball Announced That Henderson Had Been Elected To The National Baseball Hall Of Fame During His First Chance To Vote.  (Photo By Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Ricky Henderson was the dominant figure on the plate and on the bases in the 1989 postseason. Getty Images

2. Ricky Henderson, track and field, 1989

Henderson crushed both the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS and the Giants in the World Series with a show of strength that could only be created by Henderson and no one else.

Surprisingly, Henderson’s heroism was somewhat overshadowed by Will Clarke’s own huge championship streak against the Chicago Cubs and the earthquake that interrupted the Bay Bridge World Series against the Giants.

ALCS MVP, Henderson hit .400 with a .609 slugging percentage on base with two home runs and five RBIs, eight runs and eight stolen bases in five games. Then against the Giants, Henderson hit .474 with a double, two triples and a .524 percentage on base over four games.

The damage Henderson did to the Blue Jays and the Giants as a whole: .441 batting average with one double, three triples, three home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a .545 on-base percentage.

Boston, Ma - June 16: Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) Is Knocked Out Against Jaylen Brown Of The Boston Celtics (7) In The Second Quarter Of Game 6 Of The Nba Finals At Td Garden In Boston, Massachusetts.  , Thursday, June 16, 2022 (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Warriors guard Stephen Curry saved the NBA Finals with 43 points in Game 4 in Boston. José Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

3. Stephen Curry, Warriors, 2022

In truth, Curry’s postseason was not statistically a cut above the other two Warriors’ Finals MVPs – Rick Barry in 1975 and Kevin Durant in 2017-18.

Leading the Warriors to a 16–6 playoff record, Curry averaged 28.0, 26.0, 23.8 and 31.2 in four series wins.

What gives Curry the nod is a career-defining Game 4 in Boston, where the Warriors appear to be in a tight spot against a younger Celtics team and trail 2-1 in the Finals. Curry scored 24 points in the second half and finished with 43. He had 10 rebounds. He fired threes when he needed them most.

“He wouldn’t let us lose,” said forward Draymond Green.

“This man’s heart is incredible,” security guard Clay Thompson said.

Curry turned the streak in favor of the Warriors forever. They didn’t lose again.

San Francisco 49Ers Quarterback Joe Montana Passes The Ball During A Game At Candlestick Park In 1990.  (Bay Area Newsgroup Archive)
Joe Montana won four Super Bowls for the 49ers and was virtually flawless in his fourth game against Denver after the 1989 season. Bay Area Newsgroup Archives

4. Joe Montana, 49ers, 1989

Montana’s biggest moment actually came a year earlier, when he led the 49ers in a 92-yard win that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown on John Taylor 45 seconds to go against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.

But for Montana at his best, it’s impossible to match the 49ers’ postseason performance next year. Montana was as good as any other quarterback, outscoring the Vikings (41-13), Rams (30-3) and Denver Broncos (55-10) in Super Bowl XXIV in New Orleans.

Over three games, Montana completed 78.3 percent of his passes (65 of 83) for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 146.4 passer rating.

Against Denver, Montana was 22 of 29 for 297 yards and five touchdowns to win his third Super Bowl MVP award.

Rick Barry Of The Warriors Plays Phil Jackson Of The Knicks.  (Photo Courtesy Of Ron Riesterer/Oakland Tribune)
Rick Barry (24) led the Warriors to victory over Washington in 1975 and became the NBA Finals MVP. Ron Riesterer/Tribune file photo


Steve Young, 49ers, 1994: Set a Super Bowl record with six touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers and step out of Montana’s shadow. In three postseason wins, Young completed 59 of 81 passes for 623 yards and nine touchdowns, rushing for 128 yards and scoring two goals.

Jean Tenas, Athletics, 1972: After going 1 of 17 in the ALCS, Tenas became the only player to hit a home run in his first two World Series matches. Taking four of seven from the highly successful Cincinnati Reds, Tenache hit .348 with four home runs and nine RBIs to become the World Series MVP.

Rick Barry, Warriors, 1975: Not only did the Warriors upset the highly successful Bullets in the Finals, they defeated them with four straight wins. Barry was the Finals MVP, averaging 29.5 points per game and averaging 28.4 points per game over Chicago in the Western Conference Finals.

Brandi Chastain, US women’s football, 1999: Whatever you think of the penalty to determine the winner, Chastain scored the decisive shoot-out penalty over China in the FIFA World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in front of 90,185 fans – an international record for a women’s tournament. The San Jose native also scored in the quarter-final win over Germany. Following her sports bra celebration, a statue depicting her is erected outside the Rose Bowl.

Jerry Rice, 49ers, 1988: Rice was the Super Bowl MVP against the Bengals in Miami and caught 21 passes for 409 yards during three postseason wins, averaging 19.5 yards per catch, with six touchdowns.

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