Stephen Curry: Underrated
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The feature length documentary chronicles NBA star Stephen Curry’s unlikely journey from a scrawny, overlooked player at a lesser-known college to an international icon who’s inspiring an entire generation of young basketball fans.
In addition to Curry, fellow NBA stars Kevin Durant and Reggie Miller appear, as does his father Dell Curry (a former NBA All-Star), his mom Sonya (a former college volleyball standout), and his brother Seth Curry (the Dallas Mavericks star). Hall of Fame college basketball coach Robert McKillop also appears. Emmy award-winning director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room, The Force) directs and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler producers.
It may be August, but basketball fever is here – at least it is on this side of the globe. With the prestigious FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 officially underway, hundreds of top basketball players from all over the world are descending on my home country in Manila to showcase their skills.
Few Americans are aware that the Philippines is a basketball-crazed nation, so the honor of hosting the tournament for the first time in 45 years is nothing short of mind-boggling. The excitement and anticipation around the sport has reached fever pitch in this part of the world.
So it’s not surprising that Apple’s Stephen Curry: Underrated has been rising up the charts here over a month after it was released. The documentary chronicles Curry’s meteoric rise from an undersized underdog to a revolutionary NBA superstar. Unlike other documentaries that feature “freak” athletes, Underrated is more relatable, as Curry wasn’t born with apparent physical gifts. Instead, as we learn in the doc, his success is the result of hard work, perseverance, teamwork, and determination.
Part of the reason basketball is a way of life in the Philippines is that the sport reflects the country’s culture of resilience and hard work. Everywhere you travel, you’ll see basketball courts–makeshift or otherwise–at every street corner. People of all ages in shoes, sleepers, or even barefoot play the game passionately.
From an outsider’s perspective, the phenomenon can be quite ironic. The average height of Filipino males is just 5’4″. Yet what we lack in size, we more than make up for our passion and determination.
That’s why a lot of young Filipinos can relate to Steph Curry. He was often overlooked by scouts in high school and college, as he was considered undersized by NBA standards. As the film reveals, the NBA pre-draft report on Steph Curry all but did him in: “Far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism. At 6’2”, he’s extremely small for the NBA shooting guard position. Do not rely on him to run your team…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’ll always be skinny.”
The fact that Curry overcame the doubters – he’s now a 9-time NBA All-Star and 4-time NBA Champion, not to mention an all-time 3-point leader – has endeared him to basketball fans around the world. Being underrated is a badge of honor, Curry explains in the film. It’s this kind of mentality that speaks to many of us in third-world countries. We are often overlooked, underestimated, and ignored in the international community. Underrated teaches us to embrace the underdog mentality: What makes us different makes us stand out from the rest.
An Underdog Story Teachers and Parents Can Embrace
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the documentary is how Curry values education. When he left during his junior year of college to enter the NBA draft in 2009, he promised his mom (Sonya Curry) and coach (Robert McKillop) to finish his studies at some point. And in true Curry buzzer-beater fashion, he received a diploma, a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Sociology at Davidson University, months before coach McKillop retired. For a basketball superstar to do that when he’s secured financially and in the thick of his 4th Championship run, speaks volumes of who he is as an athlete and as a man.
In the Philippines, we chant the word puso (heart) at every sporting event, especially in basketball. The word serves as a battle cry for passion and fearlessness in the face of daunting odds. Stephen Curry simply has puso/heart for the game of basketball and most importantly, the game of life.
An uplifting underdog story that has been resonating around the world, Stephen Curry: Underrated teaches life lessons that everyone can appreciate. More than anything, Underrated is about resilience, second chances, rising above adversities, and the importance of having a strong support system.
Relatives, friends, and teammates who love basketball. But this is also a doc for people who need a good underdog story right now.
Where to find it: Apple TV+
In an Associated Press interview, Curry revealed that he was reluctant to embrace the “underrated” label earlier in his career. “I definitely knew, I definitely heard it. I fought it for a while, but then you finally embrace it and then you turn it into kind of an unlock of, ’OK, this is my challenge, this is my reality,’ but what can I do to kind of overcome the challenges of trying to be successful at this craft where in theory it might require you to look a certain way or have a certain physical attribute or whatever the case was. It unlocked for me a work ethic in developing my skill set that has carried me through my entire career.”
While Stephen Curry’s influence can be felt around the world, it is perhaps the greatest in the Philippines. As Clutch Points writes: “20 years ago in the Philippines, if small basketball players under 10 years of age shot 3-pointers, they were superstars. Nowadays, it is but a common sight for kids, regardless of the positions they play for their teams. Back then, kids who were a bit vertically deficient would feel a bit inferior to their taller peers playing the game. But Stephen Curry, as many would say, changed the game. He changed players’ mindset too.”