“Stephen Curry: Underrated” is the latest entry adding to the glut of 2023 sports documentaries that have been playing in theaters and via streaming platforms. This diverting AppleTV+ doc covers the basketball career of the Golden State Warriors player from his high school days to his team’s defeat of the Boston Celtics in six games of the 2022 NBA Championship series.
I can imagine folks who aren’t Steph Curry fans looking at the title and rolling their eyes. I know I rolled mine, and by virtue of the 16 years I spent working in Silicon Valley, I would consider myself a bit of a fan. I half-heartedly rooted for the Warriors because so many of my work colleagues did. To be honest, I’ve always loved players more than teams when it comes to b-ball.
But even I must take issue with “underrated” as a descriptor. Come on, movie! For starters, Curry is a four-time NBA champion and has been MVP of the league and the NBA Finals.
And that’s not all. This film opens at Madison Square Garden with the Knicks-Warriors game on Dec. 14, 2021. Basketball legend Reggie Miller, who appears as one of this film’s talking heads, is calling the game. As we see clips of Curry walking onto the court on the night he will break the NBA’s all-time 3-point shooting record, we hear Miller reading Curry’s NBA draft report.
“Far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism,” Miller says. “At 6′2″, he is extremely small for the NBA shooting guard position. Do not rely on him to run your team.” Keep in mind that these words are from a scout looking at the good, but unpolished, college player we’ll soon get to see in numerous clips from the past.
That was then, this is now.
“Underestimated” might be a better subtitle for “Stephen Curry: Underrated.” That’s a concept I can buy. Multiple opponents, sportscasters, and fans have predicted doom and gloom scenarios for the often-injured Curry, and director Peter Nicks is happy to let us hear many of the comments that were proven wrong. The film revels in showing up detractors, but not to a point where it’s obnoxious.
Nor is the reaction to commentary as amusingly vindictive as it is in the 2020 Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance,” after which Jordan’s repeated “and I took that personally” line became an enormous meme. By comparison, Curry is a very laidback and engaging presence. Watching Curry in the present, you can still see the face of the skinny, eager kid from the numerous video clips of his high school and college days at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C.
Curry’s Davidson coach, Bob McKillop, and the player’s parents, Dell and Sonya Curry, are on hand to provide details and show their support and love for this film’s subject. Curry’s wife, Ayesha, and their kids are also present in some funny scenes at home.
What I liked most about “Stephen Curry: Underrated” is how much basketball footage it provides, so much so that we can visually trace the evolution of Curry’s skills and gameplay. It doesn’t cut out the more embarrassing moments, either. The younger Curry misses a lot of shots in this movie.
All in all, this documentary is a good way to spend two hours, if you’re a sports fan. But that “underrated” malarkey? Give me a break!
STEPHEN CURRY: UNDERRATED
Directed by Peter Nicks. With Stephen Curry, Reggie Miller, Bob McKillop, Dell Curry, Sonya Curry, Ayesha Curry. 110 min. On Apple TV+. PG-13 (cuss words curry favor here)
Odie Henderson is the Boston Globe's film critic.