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How Do You Stop Stephen Curry

They are old men -- in basketball years, anyway. But Michael Cooper, Bruce Bowen and Chauncey Billups don't let a few gray hairs or retirement from basketball inhibit them from lapsing back into defensive-stopper mode. All it takes is asking them the most burning question in the NBA right now: How do you stop Stephen Curry? "How would I stop Steph? Same way I stopped his daddy," needles the 59-year-old Cooper, the spidery 6-foot-5, 170-pound defensive specialist who won five NBA titles as a guard with Magic Johnson's Showtime Lakers.

"Ooooh -- Coop said that? Allll-righty then!" laughs the 44-year-old Bowen, who, as a San Antonio small forward, was voted onto the NBA all-defensive first team five times and won three titles. BOWEN: "I don't think guys study guys as much today. They just hope Steph has an off night. They don't know what he likes to do with he's dribbling with his right hand, when he's dribbling with his left hand.

"With Steph, I know, for example, that he doesn't like when people hold him. If you watch his games, he throws his hands up like, 'Get your hands off me.' I would keep my hands on him. You can notice things with his body language as well. I know when things aren't going well Steph hangs his head. ... When I see that, that's when I dig in. That's when I'm going old school, man -- deny, deny, deny. Even if it means not helping somewhere else and a guy makes a layup. At least he didn't make a layup. "I'd approach Steph like I would Kobe [Bryant] back in his prime. To me, it wasn't like you just play for one or two quarters. No. It's a 48-minute test. You can never relax. You have to treat him like he's having one of those moments where he's going for 50 and -- I admit it -- again, I could get selfish sometimes.

"I'd get so zoned in on guarding someone, I might run toward them on a break when someone else was left wide open. But that's just because with guys like Steph, all they need to see is one hoop go in the basket for them. Kobe, Tracy McGrady, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo [Anthony] -- these guys are all the same. Once it goes in the basket, it clicks with them. Something clicks. They're no longer wondering, they're thinking, 'OK. I got it.' All it takes is making one shot.

"With Steph, quite often it's not the first or secondary screen, it's the third screen or more when he loses someone. Guys tend to relax, he takes off, and he creates the necessary separation he needs. He's so smart. So with him, it's also just staying engaged in the play. He's kinda like Kobe in that way too. I knew Kobe was very competitive, but some other guys I guarded, they would quit. There were other times where other scorers would get the ball and just swing it. And that -- that would be the time when I'd know I've won."