At 13-years old, I had one of those weird late 80’s skater cuts. Shaved underneath, sort of flopped over into my eyes, with some manic panic dye job applied in equal parts to my neck/scalp and my actual hair. I still smile when I look back on it - a simpler time defined by skateboards and punk music.
In contrast, 13-year-old Steph Curry was already a dynamic basketball player able to clearly outshine his peers. As you can see in the picture at the top of the article, he pretty much looked exactly as he does now. And the personality that defines him now shines through in the images of young Curry — just as apparent as his slender build and carefree smile.
Recently, I saw a quick little reddit post that linked to a short 45 second video of a young Steph Curry playing in some sort of scrimmage with his Dad, famous ex-NBA sharpshooter, Dell Curry. I had seen this clip before, but since it is the offseason right now, I thought it might be fun to dig a little deeper and get some background on the story, as well see if there was any additional footage.
I did eventually find the full video, and from the description, I now know that this video was captured during an exhibition game between his Etobicoke school team and staff. There is actually a treasure trove of good stuff associated with this one little video, so let’s take a look!
The Story behind the team
Much like today, Steph Curry is not the most physically impressive basketball player you’ll meet. In a game known for players’ size and agility, Curry’s unassuming stature is as much of a part of his legacy as is his sweet shooting stroke. As per Alex Ballingall (is that a made-up last name for a sports writer?) when the coach first laid eyes on young Curry, it was not the most auspicious impression, but the results were eye-popping:
“He was this tiny little guy, but when we put him on the court he was just unbelievable. He was scoring 40 points, 50 points a game, no problem,” gushed James Lackey, the history teacher who coached the Saints during their out-of-nowhere undefeated season of 2001-02. “No one even came close to us that year.”
That same article goes on to then elucidate on how pivotal Curry was to that undefeated season. None of this should come as a surprise of course, we see Curry out-play the best players in the world on a regular basis — just imagine being a bunch of random middle school kids trying to stop him. Pardon the extended block quote here, but this story about the final minute of their team’s Championship game may be the first documented case of Steph Curry going super saiyan:
“They had multiple guys who were six-foot-plus, which in the eighth grade is pretty tall,” Field recalled. “Coach called a timeout.”
Huddled on the sidelines with his players, Lackey was exasperated. “I tell them: Guys, I think we’re going to lose. I am out of ideas. I have nothing left to give you on how to beat these guys.”
Then Curry piped up. “Give me the ball.”
“Coach goes, ‘All right,’ ” Field recalled, “‘Just give him the ball.’ ”
Next thing you know, Curry hits a three, gets a steal, hits another three, Field hits a three, Curry hits another three. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lackey said. “We ended up winning the game. It was a 13-point swing-around and it was entirely because of him.”
The extended video
Without further ado, here is the extended clip. Note that this is just a scrimmage game (otherwise it really wouldn’t be fair to have Dell Curry out there):
Recognize any of those moves?
While it’s fun to talk about all the practice an NBA player has to put in and all the sacrifices — from diet to lifestyle choices — it never hurts to remember that all of these guys have always had “it.” Whatever “it” is that makes you a more skilled player than those around you, “it” has been on display since these men were boys.
For example, how about this steal and fancy drive with a sweet finish:
Or, how about this one? Does this pull up jumper from a few steps behind the three point line remind you of anything?
And of course, because I have a mancrush on him, I can’t end this article without heaping some praise on Steph Curry, the person. Yeah, the talent is there, probably since inception — that’s part of the package you inherit when your father’s a professional athlete, and your mother played sports at a high level through college. But Steph is special to a lot of fans for who he is off the court too. And much like his strong on-court game, the off-court persona has been there forever as well:
“People talk about the basketball side a lot, but what for me stood out was that he was just a really down-to-earth, humble guy. He did not have any big head about it, even though he was clearly the best player in Ontario at the time,” said Field.
“He was then, and I’m sure still is, an excellent guy.”
He still is. And I’m really glad he ended up with the Warriors. Diamond Leung also wrote about this era, back in February of 2016, and he caught up with ex-teammate Devin Mack who voiced what every fan of this team has told themselves more than once while watching Steph Curry propel us to previously unknown heights:
“I’m almost kind of living vicariously through Stephen because we all knew that he was going to be good,” Mack said. “We didn’t know that he’d be this good. So to see him out here doing as well as he’s done, it’s almost like a dream come true for all of us.”
“Almost” like a dream come true?