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"Underrated" Stephen Curry para el Players Tribune

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Its the summer of 2001, Im 13 years old, and were at the AAU national championships in Tennessee.

I was 55, 56 tops and maybe like 100 pounds soaking wet.

We lost badly, and I played worse.

I had finally gotten the chance that Id been waiting for, all year, to measure myself up. and I fell short. Way short. It really felt like a wake-up call. It felt like this moment of truth where there was only one possible lesson to take away: that I just wasnt good enough.

I remember getting back to our hotel room I think it was a Holiday Inn Express? and just sulking. Like, I wasnt being a hothead. I wasnt mad at losing. I was just down. I was in my turtle shell. I was feeling. well, I guess I was feeling how were really all taught to feel by these big tournaments, and this cutthroat basketball culture: like were walking down some do-or-die path. My dad took that path, and he made it to the league. And his son? His son couldnt even make a mark against some other 13-year-olds.

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So like I said, I wasnt heated. I was more just, like Oh, O.K. Thats it? Im not good enough? This is. over?

For me, in that moment, it pretty much WAS over.

But it was also in that moment that my parents sat me down at that Holiday Inn in Tennessee and gave me what Id call probably the most important talk of my entire life.

I wish I had the transcript for you, since there were some real gems in there. Basically, though? My Mom took the lead. She said, Steph, Im only going to tell you this one time. After that, this basketball dream.. its going to be what its going to be. But heres what Ill say: NO ONE gets to write your story but you. Not some scouts. Not some tournament. Not these other kids, who might do this better or that better. And not EVER your last name. None of those people, and none of those things, gets to be the author of your story. Just you. So think real hard about it. Take your time. And then you go and write what you want to write. But just know that this story its yours.

Man. that moment stuck with me.

It stuck with me throughout my growing-up years, and its stuck with me throughout my career as a basketball player so far. Its the best advice Ive ever gotten. And anytime Ive needed it anytime Ive been snubbed, or underrated, or even flat-out disrespected Ive just remembered those words, and Ive persevered.

Ive said to myself, This is no ones story to write but mine. Its no ones story but mine.

Wait hold up. You didnt think this was one of those fairytales where the kid gets some pep talk, and then immediately everything changes for the better, right? Because..

It REALLY isnt that.

Man. I was still so far under the radar it was crazy.

I remember part of the problem being just how skinny I was. Like, Im telling you all I was so so so skinny. Could not put on that weight to save my life. Me and my cousin, Will, we used to walk down to the GNC at this little shopping mall near our neighborhood just looking at the racks for some kind of miracle cure. We never had any money on us, so we wouldnt actually buy anything. But I guess we were just trying to. you know what, I dont even know. Breathe in the magic GNC dust? Wed stay in there for 20 minutes, easy, staring at these giant tubs of mystery powder, like Must have. the Wheybolic.

And then one day, out of the blue it happened.

We got ripped.

Nah Im kidding. We never, ever, ever got ripped. And honestly other than growing a few inches, that was pretty much my scouting profile for the rest of high school: short, skinny, shoots some.

You can guess how it went over.

I remember the first look I got from a college, during my junior year when Virginia Tech had some interest.

Or I should say, when Virginia Tech showed some interest.

If you squinted, it didnt seem CRAZY that they might want me: My dad went there. Id made a few comments about how Id like to go there. and I was even finally starting to put up some numbers.

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And when an assistant coach of theirs offered to swing by our school one day to MEET with me?? Well, lets just say.. I really squinted.

I legitimately started to think they were going to make me an offer.

I suggested we meet over lunch cool move, right? Very professional. Except Im 16 years old, at this small school with 360 kids. And lunch literally means in the cafeteria. In front of the entire student body. So, maybe not so cool.

But the big day gets there, and its finally lunch time. Their assistant coach walks in. Hes got his big Hokies polo on. His big Hokies hat. We shake hands, and sit down, and lets be really real: at this point I am straight-up feeling myself. WHOLE SCHOOL seems like its buzzing about me and my meeting. Got a room full of people doing the Im not looking (Im 100% looking) thing. Its basically a power lunch. Im on top of the world.

And then. dude hits me with it.

Yeah, so Stephen, thanks for meeting. Really a pleasure. Wed like to invite you to walk on.

Turns out, Virginia Tech was only meeting with me as well, I wouldnt say a favor to my dad, like he would ever ask for that or anything. But it was more like: a courtesy? A walk-on spot for the legends son? Id have to pay my own way.

Or in other words: They were not interested.

I remember how humble our whole experience was at Davidson.

Which, first of all, is funny because its really nice now. Like, for real: if youre reading this, go to Davidson. Its an amazing school with an amazing hoops program. But back when I got there, what I mostly remember is just how loud and clear we all got the message that, you know we were not playing Big-Time College Hoops. Man, like, we were STUDENT athletes. Size 100 font STUDENT, size 12 font athlete. We were cool, how you hoop and everything. but Im going to need that Philosophy paper athletes. We shared a practice court with the volleyball team.

And then here was the gear rundown: two pairs of sneakers per year, two or three shirts plus a pair of ankle braces. I honestly think thats it. One of my favorite memories to this day is of those Davidson practices when one of our new shoe shipments arrived. It was like a second Christmas. And then as far as the ankle-braces man. That was a whole other situation. Lets just say they were white at the beginning of the season. And by the end, they were not that color.

Its love, though. Going to Davidson, and playing and winning at that level of hoops it made me who I am, in a way. It made me understand what it means to build something. Like, truly build something. Something that no one can ever take away from you. Something thats all your own.

And its interesting what Ill remember most about my time as a Wildcat? Im sure everyone probably figures its our win over Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen, or even our game vs. Kansas in the Elite Eight. But its actually neither of those.

Its a memory from right in between them.

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I was coming back from dinner, after practice the night before we played Kansas. Just walking down the hall. And it was the strangest thing ever: I turned the corner down the hallway. and I ran into about half the team. The guys were sitting there, right on the floor, with their warm-ups on and their clunky 2007 laptops out. Like, this bunch of dudes that had just given back-to-back whoopings to Georgetown and Wisconsin. Sitting on the floor, typing away.

And Im like, Umm. what are yall doing?

The whole group of them answer at the same time: MIDTERMS.

No, for real. Thats a true story. Its 12 hours to the Elite Eight, 12 hours to the biggest game of any of our lives and those boys were literally writing term papers in the hallway. Straight up GRINDING in the Word doc. Man, I love Davidson with all my heart.

I remember Doug Gottlieb, who was a major draft analyst at the time, talking about how there were six other point guards in my class with a higher upside than I had. SportsCenter put up a tweet with his comment on it and I guess someone found that tweet a few years later, once we started having success in Golden State? So now it gets recirculated every so often.

Players Trib, if yall wanted to accidentally screenshot that tweet and paste it in here, I probably wouldnt be mad.

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And of course Im just playing, and I can smile about something like that now. But at the time?? Man. its hard to even describe how much comments like that bugged me.

All this analysis that people would put out there, all these scouting reports and whatever, that kept the focus on what I supposedly couldnt do. Undersized. Not a finisher. Extremely limited. I can still reel them off to this day. But whats even crazier is how, also to this day even with how Ive ended up doing my thing, and even with all of these unique types of players coming into the league and showing what they can do youre still seeing these so-called experts scouting hoops that same old way: by focusing on the downside of what guys cant do.

Instead of figuring out the upside of what they can.

A while back, I had an idea.

Its called The Underrated Tour and it basically goes like this: Youve got all of these camps out there, right? All these basketball camps, across the country, around the world. And its great, man. Its special. Those camps are how a lot of NBA guys originally made names for themselves. And we should keep that going! But theres another thing about these camps Ive been thinking about. And its how, if you take a closer look, youll see that its the same, exclusive group of kids participating in them, over and over. Its these same four or five-star recruits, players every scout already knows, going from city to city, camp to camp.

And I guess I just got to thinking about how, you know taking nothing away from those kids, those blue-chip prospects. But what about all the other kids? What about the kids who, for one reason or another, because of one perceived shortcoming or another, are getting labeled as two or three-star recruits? Now Im not saying those kids need to be at every camp. (Honestly, man, no one does.) But if we have it set up so those kids cant get invites to any camp?? Then I think weve got a problem. Because then I think were putting kids kids who love to hoop, and who should be out there exploring that love in a situation where a bunch of limits are being placed on them by other people. A situation where the limits of what they can accomplish are being put in place before theyve gotten to test those limits for themselves.

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And so thats the idea behind The Underrated Tour: to create a basketball camp, in partnership with Rakuten, for any unsigned high school players rated three stars and below. A camp for kids who love to hoop, and are looking for the chance to show scouts that their perceived weaknesses might actually be their secret strengths.

And most of all?

A camp for anyone who just isnt willing to let the rest of the world write their story.

Ive noticed something.

Its how people assume that, once youve started to have a certain amount of success.. feeling underrated starts going away. And that, once youve finally reached any sort of ultimate goal. it starts going away forever.

But from my own experience? In your head, honestly it never goes away.

In mine, its never even diminished.

Not in 2010, trying to make five teams regret their draft decisions. Not in 2011, trying to show Id have more value as a player than as a trade chip. Not in 2012, trying to fight through ankle problems and Ls. Not in 2013, trying to live up to a contract extension that a lot of people didnt think I deserved. Not in 2014, trying to prove these experts wrong who felt that Currys style of play just wont work in the playoffs. Not in 2015, trying to prove these experts wrong who felt that Currys style of play just wont work in the playoffs Finals. Not in 2016, trying to break the Bulls 72 wins record. Not in 2017, trying to figure out how tHE WarRIOrs BLeW a 31 SErIes LeaD. Not in 2018, trying to overcome a mess of injuries and a good-as-hell Rockets team and whatever else got thrown our way. And not even in 2019, man, not even this year trying to hop out of the grave while people bury our historic run alive.

That chip on my shoulder has never gone anywhere.

If anything, its only become more and more a part of me.

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And I think thats one of the biggest things Ive really come to understand about myself over the last 17 years: The way that underrated might start off as just some feeling the world imposes on you. But if you figure out how to harness it?

It can become a feeling that you impose on the world.

And the more I think about it, the more Ive realized that that above everything else is why were announcing this today. Thats why Im launching The Underrated Tour. Because I already have one camp and its awesome. But guess who wouldnt have been invited to it?

Me.

And Ill tell you what Im really starting to see something in that dude.

Dont sleep on him.

Kid is a killer.

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¡Vamos Korver hoy! ¡Meta 6 triples, maestro!

Que Mozart salte de Top V a Top III en el mismo partido sería una genialidad. Y a Chicago Klay le metió 14 triples de visitante. Curry el sábado en el Oracle... Está para entusiasmarse.

Más: Si Korver hoy hace 6, el sábado los Jazz y Golden Shower juegan con media hora de diferencia, así que sería una competición en ése mismo momento. Veremos.

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