Steph Curry at Sundance for Underrated: “Embrace the talent and the God-given gifts we’ve been given, everybody has that”
[+notes/quotes/video from Q&A after documentary premiere]
[I’m posting this at a graveyard-shift hour and therefore you’re getting this email newsletter at a graveyard-shift hour because I want to link the details here to the video on YouTube asap.]
So yesterday turned out to be a doozy for me. Also snooze-y, but I’ll get into that in a minute. Catherine, a long-long-long-time loyal LetsGoWarriors SUPER-fan (she told me to correct it from “fan” to “super-fan” lol) from the Oracle days, flew in from Japan with her husband to catch three consecutive games at Chase Center. The first one was, unfortunately, the loss to the Brooklyn Nets the other night.
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Idk if it was the constant back-and-forth of sharing our Google Translate thumb-typed messages to each other, as Catherine and her husband hardly speak any English, but after having dinner with them, I pretty much collapsed in my bed and had a coma of a sleep for about 12-13 hours straight.
Before I get to that, fyi Catherine has been translating our LGW YouTube videos for her Japanese friends since the beginning. When I first met her at Oracle, she was so excited, her jubilation with meeting me in person made me feel like I was one of the players on the Golden State Warriors players.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think I ended up signing my autograph on a cap. Sorry if I remembered incorrectly (one or two people out there have actually asked for my autograph throughout my decade-plus of covering the Warriors; LGW was started during the playoff run of 2013, btw).
As I drove them to their hotel last night, Catherine pulled up an old Instagram video post of mine from 2019, when Stephen Curry slapped me hard on the derrière after an exciting win at the Portland Trail Blazers:
That was so special because her sending me that brought me back to the authenticity of LetsGoWarriors. We really are a tight-knit culture here. LGW is even a subset of a subset: I had spent Monday late night presenting alternative ways of thinking about the Warriors’ plight after the loss to the Nets, the sub-.500 record, and the Foundational Six struggling all season, pleading for new commenters to stop throwing our own guys under the bus and have some more patience.
I eventually had to turn commenting off — well, “held for review” more specifically, a really cool option on YouTube that all social media platforms ought to adopt — with the negativity starting to drown me mentally.
And so I think with the focus I had in passing our phones to each other at dinner, lost in translation, with these two diehard fans from a foreign country and the weight of fighting for positivity in a zombie apocalypse, and maybe other factors or perhaps anxieties in life which we all have, I was indeed pooped.
I woke up to a DM from Catherine forwarding a clip where Steph had cut his hair and made an appearance in public last night — it’s almost 11pm PST Tue 1/24 as I write this, so it’s still “last night” for me. It was from the Sundance Festival, a video from the Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner. It turned out there were other clips, too. First, the standing ovation: https://youtube.com/shorts/MfgH_vsDMPU?feature=shares [Unfortunately Substack Can’t embed YouTube Shorts, sorry!]
I aggregated the clips here:
As I got out of my slumber, I wondered if Steph felt as tired as I did. The LGW livestream audience and I had already discussed this after the loss to the Boston Celtics. Along with Moses Moody, Curry had joined Ty Jerome for a game at Jerome’s alma mater, Virginia, for a big rivalry game against Virginia Tech, the school where Wardell’s parents met.
Maybe Sonya Curry was in attendance (she was for the White House visit) and he wanted to support her, maybe Steph just wanted to support his teammate, maybe both. A quick check on Google Maps showed that the University of Virginia was a two-hour car ride from the center of Washington, one-and-a-half hours from the nearest major airport. And if that wasn’t enough, this was the day after dropping in at Howard University to lift weights with the golf team, still wearing the slacks and dress shoes he wore to the White House. At least he took off his tie for the one-handed incline barbell presses. I don’t know if I ever posted that video on this website, so here it is:
Why do all that, Steph? Did you maybe tire yourself out for the Boston game? You’ve got the freakin’ Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night and you took a red-eye back from Salt Lake and are expected to have a full practice today? You must be feeling like I do: at the very least mentally exhausted. And he did seemingly have a non-GOAT-like performance against the Celtics the night after the Virginia excursion: 9-for-25 from the field, for example.
And then I started paying close attention to the words Curry spoke at Sundance. Again, thank you Chris Gardner.
He opened the night, after taking pictures at the entrance to Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, UT, with Ayesha Curry by telling a reporter that his message to the world through his new documentary Underrated is to “embrace the talent and the God-given gifts we’ve been given, everybody has that. You just have to figure out what that is and pour everything you have into it.”
I suddenly felt better about fighting negativity on our channel. I suddenly felt better about my super-long-term goal of being a healer of sorts (sorry I’m unable to go into detail on that for now, but I’m sure it’ll seep out little by little, if you know me and/or tune into our livestreams).
And I felt better about Steph using this extra energy to support whomever he needed to support by going to the Virginia game, the weight room at Howard, the White House, wherever.
This man didn’t need to go to Sundance to promote his film. Ryan Coogler is already a pretty big guest name to fill a theater full of movie aficionados. The presence of Wardell Stephen Curry at a screening at Sundance isn’t going to add an extra ten million dollars to the bottom line to this documentary. There wasn’t even a red carpet! (Okay, maybe it will, because the movie is THAT good and the Hollywood Reporter said so, too. However, the doc is coming out on Apple TV+ with an unspecified release date so far.)
Curry went to a snowy place on an off-day, the first of two off-days in a row, because he wanted to keep inspiring. To keep that train moving. Because people need that. I needed that, and I wasn’t even there.
Just read all the quotes below, in my usual technical manual format. When you keep repeating your message over and over again, that’s a preacher. That’s abundance. When you have abundance, you don’t know what else to do with it than share it.
Sure, there were the small bits of comedy that only someone who walks the talk, of gratitude and joy, can deliver (see the quotes below). But it was sentences like, “The fact that you can inspire somebody and you can change somebody’s life, I think that’s why we’re all here,” then “there’s a way to affect somebody to your left and to your right,” then “there’s no such thing as perfection”, then “we’re all on this Earth for a reason and that’s to lift each other up and spread positivity, love” (I want to use this to promote the ideals of LGW!) and, oh heck, I’ll just block quote it:
I’m very intentional about finding gratitude, appreciation and joy in everything, even the smallest things of my family, just coming home and feeling that joy. No matter what happens on the basketball court or what happens in life. To Ryan’s point we don’t do anything alone in being connected to community, whether that’s your teammates/coaching staff/any industry and who you go to work with every single day, whether that’s your family, being really intentional about finding the joy in the experience. Everybody sees the finished product and the polished product and the success at the highest level, championships and parades and confetti and all that. The temptation that you have to fight is to skip ahead and not be in the present, not be in the moment and, again, appreciate finding joy in what’s happening right now because there’s always a lesson to learn.
I mean, see for yourself below; there’s more, over and over again! And so in spite of the basketball struggles, he flew all the way to Utah and made himself present and intentional. Because sometimes it’s bigger than basketball. I usually won’t transcribe entire interviews and I typically (over-)use ellipses to my advantage, but this time I couldn’t help but capture nearly every word. As I finish thumb-typing this post on my mobile browser, I again feel inspired. Thank you, Steph. (Also thank you, Joe Dispenza, but I’ll talk about that some other time…)
[The following transcription is a copy-and-paste of the timestamps from the above YouTube video.]
0:00 • Ryan Coogler and wife arrive
0:18 • Ayesha Curry solo, then joined by Steph at 0:50
1:29 • “Embrace the talent and the God-given gifts we’ve been given, everybody has that. You just have to figure out what that is and pour everything you have into it.”
1:44 • On his church: “I grew up in Charlotte and went to Central Church of God. It’s where I found my faith and he’s even the pastor that married me and Ayesha back in the day. Faith is a big part of my story, my life, and my family and I get to share a little bit of that through everything that I do.”
2:15 • His advice to his young fans: “To keep working hard, embrace the challenges that you have, understand that we all have been given gifts by God to find purpose in life. Doesn’t matter if it’s impacting one person or a million people, it matters and you matter. And never lose sight of that no matter how difficult life may be. The fact that you can inspire somebody and you can change somebody’s life, I think that’s why we’re all here.”
3:00 • On if he skis or snowboards: “Neither, because it’s not in my contract.”
3:12 • Post-screening Q&A intros
4:03 • young Warriors fan gets invited on stage
5:11 • On if he regrets passing the ball to Jason Richards in Davidson’s loss to Kansas: “There are no regrets about how that particular play unfolded…that’s a build up of hours, days and weeks of chemistry building…everybody committing 100% to what that role is…we’re all gonna get the glory for it…we all ascribe to that belief. And that play, there’s that ultimate trust. Of course I’d love to shoot it, that’s why I dribbled for 15 or 17 seconds, try to look for a shot, but at the end of the day you make a read and you trust that your teammate will be there for you. No matter what the result is, that’s the decision that you make.”
6:50 • Ryan Coogler on what inspired him to make the film: “I’m from Oakland, bro…I’ll do whatever he wanna do, all he gave us. But through the process of making it, I recognized so many things…it chokes me up thinking about it. The part of the film that he so smartly did, at the end of it when I cut it back and forth for him…to him dicing up the subjects like he did. You don’t always see that from somebody’s life. You just see the success. You don’t see the struggles or the lessons that were learned that come up before that. And for me, the film speaks to what it’s like to chase a dream and how people are chasing them. They never do it alone. I love being a part of this movie. It was an honor sharing it with you all. I’m a mess after watching it each time. It just made all the sense in the world. We were in from the jump.”
8:30 • Director Peter Nicks: “…the first time I saw that intercutting, chills went down my spine. Our incredible editor, JD Marlowe.”
8:56 • Bob McKillop on what he’s most proud of with Steph and what he learned most from Davison: “I’d first like to thank Peter for taking this topic and the statement that this movie makes about life and about teamwork, about love, about tears. Thank you, Peter. Saint Francis of Assisi, and I’ll paraphrase: ‘Preach without using words’ (points to Steph). That’s what he does. He preaches without using words. You touch his life and you leave him happier. But you leave yourself happier. Stephen brought such great joy. And you know what? If you can’t figure it out, basketball is life. What happens on the basketball court is exactly what happens in life. The wins, the losses, the joys, the sorrows. The tears go after the love, the team. Stephen represents the best of all those qualities. So that’s what this movie represents for me.”
10:15 • On his faith and if he’ll be cast in Black Panther 3: “Tell him (looks at Coogler), ‘Let’s see if we can shoot it in the summer and see if we can find a nice role for me in that universe,’ absolutely! Put the pressure on him, let’s see what he says. But yeah, faith is a huge part of my background, it’s a huge part of how you find purpose in life, knowing that there’s something greater than yourself. There’s a lesson to be learned. There’s a way to affect somebody to your left and to your right, whether that’s one person, whether that’s an auditorium filled with amazing people like yourself, or whether it’s the stage that I have every day I step on the court, and people watching. I represent God, I represent my family, I represent the people that have poured into me. And it’s not about me. My faith has been a huge part of maintaining that foundation, and understanding that we’re all on this Earth for a reason and that’s to lift each other up and spread positivity, love. I love it when (McKillop) said that. Sometimes you can do it with a conversation or word or work of art, but sometimes it’s just the way that you carry yourself and how you live your life. And there’s no such thing as perfection, but we all have an opportunity to impact each other, so don’t ever forget that.”
12:00 • On keeping a level head after missing five shots in a row and how that’s evolved: “There’s doubts that come from within, there’s criticism that comes from the outside…I’m very intentional about finding gratitude, appreciation and joy in everything, even the smallest things of my family, just coming home and feeling that joy. No matter what happens on the basketball court or what happens in life. To Ryan’s point we don’t do anything alone in being connected to community, whether that’s your teammates/coaching staff/any industry and who you go to work with every single day, whether that’s your family, being really intentional about finding the joy in the experience. Everybody sees the finished product and the polished product and the success at the highest level, championships and parades and confetti and all that. The temptation that you have to fight is to skip ahead and not be in the present, not be in the moment and, again, appreciate finding joy in what’s happening right now because there’s always a lesson to learn. My wife will tell you, that’s the one thing that I try to be most intentional about every single day. And it started before Davidson but it was amplified even in the ups and downs of it as you saw those three years that I was there. And the confidence that he instilled in me from Day One. So be intentional about it. You have a choice. We all have choices. My mom said that: we all have choices. When you wake up every day, have gratitude, find joy in life.”
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