There is perhaps no modern-day athlete more deserving of their own documentary than Wardell Stephen Curry II.
Aside from being insanely likeable and delivering charisma in spades (read: a marketer’s dream), his career accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary; and have all the makings of a future Hall of Famer.
That’s why when Apple TV+ first announced Stephen Curry: Underrated, it was understandably the source of great excitement among basketball fans.
Most of us are all too familiar with the reality of our physical limitations, which instantly precludes any kind of career in professional sports. We’ll never have the size and backboard-shattering strength of Shaq or the lofty 48-inch vertical leap of Michael Jordan. And for the vast majority of the population, that’s pretty much where the story tends to end.
For Steph Curry, however, that’s where his story began.
Stephen Curry: Underrated chronicles the rise of the baby-faced assassin against all odds, and offers a deeper understanding of a larger-than-life name that’s so often mythologised (but seldom explored in intimate detail).
Across 109 minutes, the A24-produced retrospective directed by Peter Nicks (Homeroom, Anthem) manages to simultaneously humanise a legend who had seemingly been written off by scathing scouting reports, and highlight just how special of a player he really is.
We learn about the motivating factors which have been instrumental in propelling him to such enviable heights through interviews with his family, former teammates, coaches, as well as the man himself.
The documentary covers Steph Curry’s early basketball career at Davidson College — a relatively unknown, private liberal arts university that he was able to lead to improbable success in the NCAA tournament.
This is mirrored (and somewhat contrasted) by the day-to-day of the Steph Curry the world knows, reveres, and celebrates; navigating family life, winning NBA championships, enduring countless hours of press, hitting epic hole-in-ones at televised golf tournaments, and even returning to Davidson to complete his degree (all with the same mindset that got him here).
Now granted, he’s currently one of the world’s best basketball players with, as previously mentioned, accolades and achievements most athletes could only dream of. But keep in mind: Steph Curry is only 35 years old with the concept of retirement still far beyond the immediate horizon. Meaning it’s almost definitely too early for any conversations surrounding an NBA career retrospective documentary.
Although that didn’t exactly stop us from trying to instigate said conversation.
During a recent virtual interview facilitated by Apple, we probed the point guard about whether such a projected designed to examine his career with the Golden State Warriors in its totality would ultimately be something of interest.
“I mean there’s always interest, but you know, starting with the origin story of my time at Davidson,” Steph Curry told us exclusively.
“The kind of lead-up and my early basketball experiences that kind of developed the ‘Underrated’ mindset — that I still have in my DNA today and still use as motivation — was a good starting place and a good time to share this story with the world. Because it’s not necessarily just a basketball or a sports perspective.”
“I think it speaks on certain life principles of perseverance, hard work, dedication to a craft, finding what makes you unique, and the ability to push through early failures and stick with your process. That is a big part of what makes me who I am.”
“This maybe would lead to a deep dive into the successes on the court in my NBA career, but you had to start with the ‘Underrated’ mindset that developed at Davidson and that part of my journey for sure.”
While The Last Dance isn’t completely without criticism — ranging from Michael Jordan’s editorial control over his own story to the lack of Aussie centre Luc Longley — it did accomplish a few things that could one day also be applicable to Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors.
For one, it reintroduced the world to a beloved era of basketball through the lens of a legendary poster boy.
For another, the 10-episode format had ample scope to cover all of the important moments of the Chicago Bulls’ dynastic run, as well as show the perspectives of 90 different interviewees who were involved.
Much like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors have completely changed how the game is played through their sustained dominance. Despite being initially overlooked due to his size, Curry — and the Warriors in general — are widely credited for the proliferation of the three-point line that has since become ubiquitous within the modern NBA.
The time removed from their playing career also allowed players featured in The Last Dance to drop the bravado, leave their egos at the door, and offer brand new insights upon reflecting on several iconic moments.
Not only have the Warriors had a revolving door of strong personalities entering/leaving the team’s roster, they’ve also come up against all of the sport’s biggest names.
We’re jumping the gun a bit here, but hearing from older versions of the iconic players that have faced the Warriors during this era — LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Chris Paul, to name a few — provide their side of the story 20 years down the track already sounds like a mouth-watering proposition.
And that’s before you factor in chapters like Klay Thompson’s perspective on his return from injury, or Jordan Poole’s perspective on his altercation with Draymond Green, which will undoubtedly make for exceptional television/streaming one day.
This point became especially apparent during an earlier scene in Stephen Curry: Underrated.
After breaking the all-time 3-point record in an away game against the New York Knicks, then-Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant stopped by to make an appearance at his former teammate’s celebration dinner hosted at the Big Apple.
Here, Curry expressed his love for KD and remarks that the latter is, “… the most misunderstood man in the fricking league.” It’s certainly a wholesome moment, but the documentary didn’t really have any room to elaborate on this specific point.
“In our profession, you know, there’s always narratives that kind of pop up that you can’t control,” Steph Curry explained when we prompted him about this moment.
“They try to paint a picture of you that may or may not be authentic to how you see things or how you approach things or what you really believe. You know, there are a lot of guys who approach it in different ways.”
“Whether you want to fight every narrative down and defend yourself or whether you just accept that that’s part of the reality of being an athlete at this level with the spotlight that’s on you on a daily basis.”
Curry added: “He’s a guy that’s such a good human being and guy to be around, a good friend, and great teammate in that sense. The fans — and his kind of sarcasm on social media and all that stuff — have a certain perspective of him, but when you really get to know him it’s entirely different.”
“So, for me, that was kind of what that comment meant. I enjoyed the three years that I got to play with him and we created some amazing memories. The guy just loves basketball and all the stuff that comes with it is kind of hit or miss.”
We’re fortunate enough to still be witnessing the events of this eventual documentary. For the time being, however, we’ll happily settle for getting (re)acquainted with the Golden State Warriors’ main man.
Stephen Curry: Underrated is now streaming on Apple TV+.