Even if basketball is not your jam
Last month, Stephen Curry: Underrated dropped on Apple TV. Even if you have a fleeting interest in basketball, you’d know Curry is anything but underrated. He is arguably the biggest star of the modern era, the face of the three-pointer revolution in the league, and universally adored despite having a playing style that might not subscribe to traditional norms, and a physique that is far from imposing. He isn’t underrated, surely, but he has been for the majority of his career, from his college career to his early days in NBA.
In school, Curry was “the undersized, scrawny kid that was just trying to figure out how to make it.” He was 6″2′, just over 150 pounds, which automatically means the odds are stacked against you to succeed in the league. Sure, you could throw some names like Chris Paul or Isaiah Thomas, but that doesn’t make it the norm. An imposing and brawny physique surely makes it easier to evade defence or overpower them. Curry didn’t have that privilege.
“Appears as though he’ll always be skinny,” read a pre-draft scout report on Curry. And as hehad put it, he had to figure his way around. He did so by perfecting the most difficult skill in the game: scoring three points without missing a beat. In a blink of an eye, he would erase ten-point deficit, or extend a slender lead to a sizeable lead. All by letting em rip from where he wants: from the downtown, or from the most crowded place on the court, or from just inside the half.
The documentary doesn’t fall for the overwrought journey of adversity to accomplishment – something most sports documentaries rely on. Instead, it stays with his adversity, and presents an intimate picture of his struggles, without any exaggeration. An important aspect that the documentary tackles is the over-reliance on AI tools to measure the player’s potential. Scouting reports and analysts’ verdicts painted a grim picture of Curry, and he often found himself on the verge of being dropped.
In a recent interview with The Wired, Curry too expressed his scorn with such a narrow outlook towards the players and the game. He says, “You lose the personal assessment of who somebody is and, you know, the stuff you can’t put on paper. Everything is so overexposed now. There’s such a short feedback loop when it comes to the analytics and all that type of stuff. There’s such a strong reaction to people going through failure too. They don’t have time to learn the lessons you need to learn.”
Perhaps the most gratifying part of the documentary is Curry’s stint at Davidson College, where he trained under the watchful eyes of the coach, Bob McKillop, who cut off all the noise and instead of fretting over what Curry doesn’t possess, he puts his work to hone the skills and magic that Currey already have. Without McKillop’s belief, Curry’s career might not have blossomed.
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