Every NBA fan loves All-Star weekend. It’s a true showcase of the best talent the league has to offer, and it’s extremely fun to watch. The Dunk Contest gets a lot of hype due to being the biggest event of the three days, but the Three Point Contest matters as well.
As with the Dunk Contest, plenty of great or legendary players have won the shootout. This guide will cover a range of the top athletes to compete, show what made them so special, and go over the player who took it down more than anyone else.
A Tough Task
The Three Point Contest, while fun and exciting, is extremely volatile. Outside shooting in the NBA is not easy, especially when millions of people are watching. Not only that, but three point shooting is largely streaky. It’s easy to get hot, but players cool off quickly too.
For that reason, very few athletes have managed to take home multiple three point titles. In fact, only seven players in the history of the NBA, all of them extremely adept deep range shooters, managed to achieve the feat.
Peja Stojakovic, Jeff Hornacek, Mark Price, Jason Kapono, and Stephen Curry all won two. That puts them in a five-way tie for second place. Only Larry Bird and Craig Hodges have more (3). In fact, both players share the title for the most Three Point Contests ever won.
Three’s the Limit
Larry Bird is widely regarded as the first great three point shooter. He played in the NBA when they set the line, and he took full advantage of being able to score from deep. Not only did his ability to hit the three come in handy during the regular season, it helped in the contest too.
Bird won the first three ever three point contests, and he did so back-to-back-to-back. He won in 86, 87, and 88. Not only that, but he won each one by a large margin. In terms of his time, no one was even close to his three point ability.
However, it wasn’t long before someone else challenged the Celtic legend’s early reign. Craig Hodges, also known for his sharpshooting ability, followed up Bird’s impressive run just two years later in 1989/1990 when he took down three straight as well.
Both players were far ahead of their time in terms of deep shooting, which enabled them to win so many contests so quickly. Dale Ellis did break up both three-peats in 1988, but that was a small hiccup in between the two great runs.
Bird and Hodges were both great three shooters in their own right, but a lot of their success came down to when they played. The three was quite new when they entered the contest, and that meant the entire league hadn’t caught up to long range shooting quite yet.
Nowadays, everyone has a deep shot. That makes the competition much stiffer, and makes stringing together multiple victories that much more difficult. In fact, Curry is the only player in the last decade to win the contest more than once.
On top of that, winning the competition more than twice is hard simply due to how players can get hot or cold.While a few other players won two contests, hitting three is a mark that no-one, not even the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Ray Allen have been able to achieve.
That’s because the Three Point Contest is as much about streakiness as it is about skill. Shooting often evens out over the course of a season, but it’s easy for something to go wrong in a single night. Even the best players on Earth can go cold at the wrong time.
With the exception of Steph Curry, every single multi-time winner did it in consecutive years. That shows how important a hot hand is when competing in the contest. Everyone, from the first winners to modern day superstars, needs to have a good shooting streak in order to win.
Bird and Hodges were both much better than their competition, and they were hot when they needed to be. That combination allowed them to reach heights no one has yet been able to emulate.
While the Three Point Contest is often overlooked when people discuss All-Star Weekend, winning it is not easy. Only two people have taken it down more than two times, and even some of the greatest long distance players ever have only won it once.
There are several factors that go into winning a Three Point Contest, including luck, skill, as well as the ability to get hot. That is why only two players have ever won it three times. It might happen again in the future, but it could be a while before it does.