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Before he left for last Sunday's home game against FC Dallas, Minnesota United backup goalkeeper Clint Irwin tuned in to a show he's known since he was a teenager.

"I've seen it before," he said, "but to see it in an NBA playoff Game 7 was pretty cool."

That show has starred his childhood friend Steph Curry since they were in middle and high school together in Charlotte, N.C.

This time, his childhood friend scored a playoff career-high 50 points — most in a Game 7 in NBA history — to help Golden State beat Sacramento 4-3 in a first-round, best-of-seven series. By doing so, the Warriors advanced to a second-round series with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

That series was tied 1-1 heading into Saturday night's game in Los Angeles.

Curry has added muscle — lots of it — since Irwin primarily set screens for the son of Charlotte Hornets shooter Dell Curry. Despite all those years between, the four-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP hasn't changed that much.

"He doesn't look like he's aged at all," Irwin, 34, said of the 35-year-old Curry. "That's the way he has looked all the time. As a person and a player, he was the same as what you see now: just unbelievably skilled, great shooter, great teammate."

Now Curry is the greatest NBA shooter of all time, a seemingly limitless three-point threat whose 3,390 regular-season threes made are most in the league by 400-some and counting. He's also 43rd on the league's all-time scoring list, with 21,712 points.

Curry was the most gifted player for both Charlotte Christian School's middle school and high school teams — a pass-first point guard with such a refined shooting stroke, able to see all the passing angles. He also played golf, a little baseball and ran some track, too.

"He could have gone for probably 40 points in high school every night if he really wanted to," said Irwin, who's a year younger than Steph and a year older than Steph's brother, Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry. "But he wanted to make sure everyone got involved.

"We actually had to encourage him to shoot more because he was so unselfish and we had a good team. We had a couple guys end up playing in Europe, six or seven other guys who played Division I.

"My basketball career peaked in middle school, so I was like a sixth man: defend, rebound."

Major Division I universities passed on Steph Curry, who went to nearby liberal arts college Davidson, playing in the same conference where Irwin played soccer at Elon University.

"He would come to our 900-seat gym, put up 40 points and the crowd went crazy," Irwin said.

Curry led Davidson to the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA tournament. With his midmajor Wildcats seeded 10th, he scored 40 in a first-round victory over Gonzaga, 30 to beat Georgetown, 33 to beat Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 and 25 in a 59-57 regional final loss to No. 1 seed and eventual national champion Kansas.

Just one victory from the Final Four.

"I never understood why this guy didn't get recruited by the Dukes, the North Carolinas," Irwin said. "Those are the big ACC schools, right? Why weren't they knocking down this guy's door, because every time we went to a tournament, he was the best player there? He showed at Davidson it didn't matter what level he played, he was going to make an impact."

NBA teams worried about Curry's strength, just as Division I teams had. Golden State took him seventh in the 2009 draft, elated when the Timberwolves selected Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn back-to-back right before him over just that concern.

Ankle injuries cost him a big contract after his rookie deal expired, but that only slowed the way to greatness.

"Did I think he'd be the MVP of the league and one of the best shooters of all time?" Irwin asked. "I don't know if I could say I saw that. But I certainly saw this guy was going to be in the NBA at some point. I thought he might be more like his dad, a shooting specialist who could do other things."

Loons goalkeeper Clint Irwin and Warriors guard Steph Curry.
Loons goalkeeper Clint Irwin and Warriors guard Steph Curry.

Photo courtesy Clint Irwin

Irwin and Curry had dinner when Irwin played in Toronto years ago and Irwin attended a Warriors shootaround in Denver when he played there. The Loons signed Irwin as a free agent before this season.

"He's very gracious with his time, but once you get to that level, there's a lot going on," he said. "People want to watch him play. He truly has revolutionized the game in his own way. People like rooting for good guys and he's a good guy."