‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ provides fascinating look at Warriors star’s origin story (2023)

One of the greatest basketball players ever was barely recruited out of high school.

Stephen Curry, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound guard from Charlotte, North Carolina, garnered little interest from colleges.

Davidson head coach Bob McKillop was the only college coach who believed in the now two-time NBA MVP, four-time NBA champion and all-time NBA 3-point leader who became a catalyst in changing the way basketball is played leaguewide.

“Stephen Curry: Underrated,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City on Monday night, chronicles Curry’s rise from an undersized, under-recruited guard to NBA superstar.

The documentary will be out later this year on Apple TV+. An official release date has yet to be announced.

“Stephen Curry: Underrated” is directed by Peter Nicks, who has made three movies on Oakland life, including 2021 Sundance selection “Homeroom.” The new film is produced by Proximity Media and Curry’s production company Unanimous Media.

Ryan Coogler, who directed the “Black Panther” movies, “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station,” was a producer on the movie.

‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ provides fascinating look at Warriors star’s origin story (1)

Chris Pizzello, Invision via Associated Press

“It was great, considering that he was doing his day job, trying to win a championship and he ended up being successful,” Coogler said of working with Curry on the documentary.

He continued, “He was trying to get his degree, he’s got three young kids, wife, a lot was happening in his life at that time. We were trying to find pockets where our filmmaker Peter Nicks could get access to him, and he was very gracious.”

The movie has early footage of Curry playing basketball as a kid and has camcorder film, shot by mom Sonya and dad Dell, of his high school career.

“It was like a treasure hunt trying to find all those little pieces that showed him sort of growing up and coming of age,” Nicks said.

Curry watched the final version of “Underrated” by himself in his house, eating a bowl of popcorn.

“It was an emotional roller coaster for me going down memory lane,” he said. “Just seeing that all that hard work come to fruition with an amazing finished product, something that we can share with the world to inspire.”

Curry, who played a game against the Brooklyn Nets fewer than 24 hours before the Park City premiere, was on hand for the event alongside his wife Ayesha and mother Sonya.

The film features interviews with Curry, Sonya, Dell, McKillop and Davidson teammates, among others.

“I think the challenging part is just all the different pieces that goes through to bring the story together with all the people that were part of my life and my journey and making sure we touched on every influential person within that framework. But it’s all rewarding,” Curry told the Deseret News.

‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ provides fascinating look at Warriors star’s origin story (2)

Chris Pizzello, Invision via Associated Press

The new documentary provides glimpses of Curry’s life off the court, with footage of the Warriors star with his three children and Ayesha at home, working on his thesis to complete his Davidson degree while playing in the NBA, and his rigorous training routine.

“We had to sort of pick our moments and be very careful about, oh, what can we learn from him spending time with his children on this day? Or what can we learn from him meeting with his grandmother to talk about his time at Davidson,” Nicks said.

The majority of the documentary focuses on Curry’s Davidson days, where he helped take the 10th-seeded Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2008.

McKillop, who retired in 2022 after 33 seasons at Davidson’s helm, saw something special in Curry early on.

“All the basketball qualities that fit our system, as a passer, a dribbler, a shooter, unselfish teammate,” McKillop said.

“All of the character traits that separate him from everyone else — work ethic, toughness, coachability, perseverance. He possessed them all. You combine that with his talent, that’s what made him such an extraordinary success for us.”

‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ provides fascinating look at Warriors star’s origin story (3)

Chris Pizzello, Invision via Associated Press

Before Curry hit high school, Dell — who played 17 seasons in the NBA, including his rookie season with the Utah Jazz — helped Steph change his shot from launching it from his waist to his current shooting motion.

“For three months, I couldn’t shoot outside of the paint,” Curry said of the months after changing his shot.

But that adjustment paid off as Curry turned into one of the most prolific shooters the game has ever seen.

Curry’s signature 3-ball is on full display in the new film as he puts tiny Davidson College, which has an enrollment of 1,950, on the basketball map in 2008.

Despite Curry’s struggles during the first few games of his Davidson career in 2007, McKillop trusted him, making him the starting point guard and, importantly, giving him the green light to shoot.

Davidson’s 2008 NCAA tournament run is extensively covered in the documentary.

McKillop reminisced on that Elite Eight run, saying it gave him a “treasure chest filled with memories that will be with me forever.”

The 2007-08 season, Curry’s sophomore campaign, saw the Wildcats face a daunting regular-season schedule, including North Carolina, Duke and UCLA, in order to prepare for the NCAA tournament.

The season before, in Curry’s freshman year, Davidson was one-and-done in the tournament.

With Curry’s leadership and a battle-tested squad, the Wildcats got within two points of a trip to the Final Four, beating Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin before falling to eventual national champion Kansas in the Elite Eight.

Curry scored 40, 30, 33 and 25 points in the four games that were part of Davidson’s 2008 tournament run.

In “Stephen Curry: Underrated,” a Davidson assistant coach recounts LeBron James asking for tickets to see Curry in the Sweet 16 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Footage shows James cheering Curry on as the Wildcats beat sixth-seeded Wisconsin to move on to the Elite Eight.

Just seven years later, in 2015, Curry would win his first-ever NBA title over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the first of four consecutive NBA Finals meetings between the Warriors and the Cavs, of which Curry and Golden State would win three.

‘Stephen Curry: Underrated’ provides fascinating look at Warriors star’s origin story (4)

Chris Pizzello, Invision via Associated Press

“Far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism,” a Curry NBA draft scouting report, read by Reggie Miller in the documentary, says.

“At 6-foot-2, he’s extremely small for the NBA shooting guard position. Do not rely on him to run your team. Can overshoot, can rush into shots, doesn’t like when defenses are too physical with him. Not a great finisher around the basket due to his size and physical attributes. Needs to add some muscle to his upper body, but appears as though he will always be skinny.”

Despite that scouting report, Curry went No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 NBA draft.

And the rest is history.

“I thought he was going to be destined for greatness. The level of greatness he has achieved is far beyond what I could have ever imagined,” McKillop said.

“It’s truly remarkable to see him grow from the two years we played together, to see where he’s at today. ... He’s the same kid that I met when he was 16 years old. He hasn’t changed a bit. He doesn’t forget where he came from,” Davidson teammate Jason Richards said.

Not forgetting where he came from is the other major theme of the film, as Curry fulfills a promise to his mom and graduates from Davidson with a degree in sociology in August 2022.

Sonya had told Curry that he’s already won three NBA championships, but wants him to win a championship for his mom — completing his degree.

In the film, we see Curry, in the midst of taking care of his kids and preparing for the upcoming NBA season and, writing his thesis paper and checking in with his professor.

Davidson held a ceremony celebrating Curry’s graduation and raised his number to the rafters at John M. Belk Arena.

Fans expecting a behind-the-scenes breakdown of the Warriors’ dynasty —Curry’s version of the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” — could be disappointed.

The documentary does not include interviews with Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green or Steve Kerr, though Green appears in a scene where he FaceTimes Curry while their two schools, Davidson and Michigan State, play each other in the 2022 NCAA tournament. Durant makes an appearance in one of the beginning cuts, during an afterparty in New York City after Curry breaks the all-time NBA 3-point record against the New York Knicks.


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The documentary mostly skips over the vast majority of Curry’s illustrious NBA career. His first five seasons in the league are mostly reduced to scenes documenting Curry hurting his ankle nearly every year.

The 2014-15 season, which culminated in Curry’s first championship, gets a little more screen time, but it fast forwards past the next two championship seasons, with each just getting video of Curry’s celebration after winning the title.

The NBA season explored most in-depth in the film is the 2021-22 championship year, when, after an injury-riddled campaign, Curry led Golden State to an NBA title and capped it off with his first-ever Finals MVP.

It may have been the championship that meant the most to him as emotion swept over him following the final buzzer.

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