She doesn’t want to shoot from the women’s 3-point line of 20 feet, six inches — she’s launching from the NBA line, 23 feet, nine inches, to match Curry on All-Star Saturday night in Indianapolis. 

“Steph vs. Sabrina” will be one on one, with fans still being allowed to vote on who’ll shoot first between now and Saturday night. Players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been queried on who they think will win in the last couple weeks, and the interest is intriguing.

Stephen Curry vs. Sabrina Ionescu is an All-Star matchup that was a long  time coming - The Columbian

“I shoot from that range to begin with,” Ionescu said on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday night. “Knowing that I had the opportunity to kind of pick what line I wanted to shoot from, it was a no-brainer. Continue to prove that we’re capable and willing. Wanted to continue to equal the playing field and doing so on the biggest stage.”

It doesn’t seem like it’s just a matter of pride, but a mission to gain more turf for women’s basketball in a landscape that’s seeing the women’s game grow at a greater pace than perhaps at any point since reaching the American lexicon.

Whether she beats Curry seems immaterial at this point. It’s the notion that it’s even a conversation that makes it a win for all involved, and it seems fitting the 3-point shot is what merges the game together.

The 3-point shot is no longer a passing fad, and women’s basketball has never been, so it’s a perfect relationship of sorts.

Ionescu was already known in basketball circles, having her own Nike shoe that NBA players are known to wear. But it was a display last summer that sparked the thought of this event happening, something so spontaneous not even Twitter could catch up in real time.

Ionescu kept hoisting 3-ball after 3-ball, some barely catching net, some nestling perfectly inside the Barclays Center rims during the WNBA’s 3-point competition at its All-Star event last summer. She missed two shots total in 70 seconds of work for 37 points in the final, and social media was soon set afire with what had been witnessed — and those who didn’t witness it live soon would catch the replay and sit in astonishment of her accuracy.

“You’re really in this zone and it’s really hard to explain,” Ionescu said. “You’re shooting without even thinking. Kind of unconscious, to be honest, just was worried about picking up the ball and shooting and, you know, obviously, they all looked really good so I wasn’t quite sure how many I made or missed and how many I had gotten in a row by that point.”

Curry nodded and smiled, as one of the few people who could relate to what Ionescu was referencing. Curry, 35, is far and away the NBA’s most decorated 3-point shooter, having captured the all-time record for most 3-pointers made during the 2021-22 season. Ionescu, at the tender age of 26, is entering her fourth year with the New York Liberty and has more work to do before catching the W’s career leader, Diana Taurasi.

Ionescu joked about watching Curry as a kid growing up in the Bay Area, which, of course, made Curry feel old. Curry remembers hearing about her, almost as an urban legend in the area. He actually met Ionescu’s dad before meeting her years ago, so he’s not so surprised she’s reached the heights she has.

Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu to settle debate over basketball's best  three-point shooter at All-Star Weekend | CNN

“She stopped the world,” Curry said. “Now to have a tie-in on something that can have representation, keep that narrative going, it’s awesome, no matter how it plays out. It’s unchartered territory.”

It’s not Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973 in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, but it is a spectacle. While the world has changed so much since, the battle for women to receive equal pay to men is still in the forefront.

There is mutual admiration in the midst of this competition, but it isn’t borne out of some gender dominance or conflict. Curry has redefined what greatness looks like in the modern game, and Ionescu is pushing the limits in the WNBA, as the shot-making, athleticism and skill development has evolved throughout the sport.

The WNBA and the college game are rising in popularity and TV ratings in recent time, as the college game has put a huge footprint in viewing habits. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has been a huge catalyst, along with visible, charismatic coaches like South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and LSU’s Kim Mulkey.

So when Curry speaks of pushing the game forward, a common phrase, one could surmise he means the WNBA players getting a bigger piece of the pie in terms of TV contracts relative to the growing audience and interest.

“There’s many similarities, I would say, to what it stands for,” said Ionescu, referencing King-Riggs. “There’s an opportunity to raise awareness. There’s many people who don’t give the respect to women’s sports and to women in general that is deserved. You can go out there and shut a lot of people up.

“But also thank a lot of people that are continuing to push for what’s right.”

As Curry was speaking, and listening, his youngest daughter, Ryan, popped in and out of the screen. While his daughters are rooting for him, it seems he has an understanding of the effect the competition can have on them as they begin their own pursuits.

After Ionescu’s moment last season, the two All-Stars began bantering about such a competition on social media and through their own conversations. They’ve played H-O-R-S-E before, in the quiet of no cameras or a TV audience, and given Curry’s sheepish reaction, he may have walked away with a big L.

This time, the world will be watching.