Steph Curry Expected To Attend World Premiere Of Sundance Doc ‘Stephen Curry: Underrated,’ From Peter Nicks And Ryan Coogler

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is heading to Utah, not for a game against the Jazz but an event in an entirely different arena: the Sundance Film Festival.

We’re told the future hall of famer intends to make the world premiere of Stephen Curry: Underrated on Monday night, January 23, the documentary about him directed by Peter Nicks and produced by Ryan Coogler, Nicks, Jenelle Lindsay, and Erick Payton.

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“The plan is for him to be there… The timing just kind of worked out,” Nicks tells Deadline. “You can never know 100 percent with someone like that… He’s probably going to have to dip out. He’s got practice the next day.”

The film from A24 and Apple Originals documents the two-time league MVP who wasn’t expected to survive in the NBA, let alone set the record for the most 3-point buckets in a career.

“Far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism. At 6’2”, he’s extremely small,” said a frosty scouting report for Curry. It’s read on camera at the beginning of the film by Reggie Miller, the previous 3-point record holder. “Do not rely on him to run your team.”

The film reveals Curry was discounted as a viable talent from the beginning, despite being the son of Del Curry, a former NBA pro, and Sonya Curry, herself a gifted athlete. It’s just that, for a basketball player, he was small.

“I was the undersized, scrawny kid just trying to make it at whatever level I was playing,” Curry says in the film. “I knew I could shoot.”

He dreamed of playing for Virginia Tech, his parents’ alma mater, but the school didn’t want him. No Division 1 NCAA program did – except for tiny Davidson College in North Carolina. There are many striking lessons in the film – about hard work and self-belief, but also about the difference one important person can make in a young person’s life, like Davidson Coach Bob McKillop.

“Being seen is such a powerful agent, it’s such a powerful influencer in anyone’s life,” Nicks observes. “When Davidson saw [Steph], when Coach McKillop saw him, it had a powerful impact on his sense of self. That was another piece of the story that we were trying to explore and tell.”

Just like Curry himself, Davidson wasn’t considered capable of contending with the powerhouses – the Dukes, the Kentuckys, the Kansases. But led by Curry’s deadeye shooting, McKillop’s squad wound up overperforming on college basketball’s biggest stage in the NCAA tournament of 2008. It’s the kind of inspiring sports story that gives goosebumps, like Hoosiers.

“What really attracted me, as I learned more about his story and his journey, was this time that he spent at Davidson and this notion of a coming of age story,” Nicks says, “this notion of a story about family beyond the nuclear family — his kids and [wife] Ayesha and Sonya and Del — this family around this [Davidson] team that was never expected to be able to go as far as they went. We saw that as a sort of key framework for the movie… The Davidson story just hadn’t been told, as far as we could tell.”

Two other quests underpin the film – Curry’s attempt to win another NBA title last year, after many had predicted the Warriors’ glory days were behind them, and his long-held desire to complete his undergraduate degree at Davidson. Curry left the school after his junior year to enter the NBA draft.

“He had achieved so much, but he had never graduated from college and it was something that he had promised his mom,” Nicks says. “Sonya was the first in her family to go to college and something that was always very important.”

Nicks has long been based in Oakland, in the Warriors backyard, so to speak, and Coogler – director of Fruitvale Station, Creed and the Black Panther movies — grew up in Oakland. The filmmakers have known each other for a decade, and a few years ago launched Proximity Media, a production company founded by Coogler, Coogler’s wife Zinzi Coogler, Sev Ohanian and co-founded by Nicks, Ludwig Göransson, and Archie Davis.

“We had always wanted to work on something together,” Nicks says of he and Coogler. “We were just sort of looking for the right opportunity. And so when Steph started thinking about wanting to tell his story… they reached out to us via A24 and the stars were sort of aligned to do it. Ryan’s a huge Warriors fan. Sits courtside. I’ve seen him watching games. I’ve seen him and Zinzi down there on the court.”

Stephen Curry: Underrated marks a return to Sundance for both Nicks and Coogler. The festival will honor Coogler on Thursday night with its first Sundance Institute Variety Visionary Award, recognizing an Institute alum who has gone on to make impactful work. It was 10 years ago that Coogler premiered Fruitvale Station at Sundance, his feature directorial debut (Nicks worked on that film).

Coogler served as an executive producer on Homeroom, Nicks’ film about the Oakland public school system. That documentary premiered at Sundance in 2021 – one of two years Sundance was forced to go virtual because of the pandemic.

“My last film, Homeroom, it was such a special and personal film. It was a little bit discouraging that we weren’t able to share it with the audience, especially with all the kids [from the film],” Nicks says. “For this film, for us to be able to share it with the audience at the Eccles, no less [Sundance’s biggest venue]… we’re so excited.”

Nicks says no Apple TV+ premiere date has been set for Stephen Curry: Underrated.

“We want to first introduce the film to audiences through festivals,” he notes. “It’s a process that I’ve done with all of my films. We want to remind people that this is a documentary in the tradition of independent films that I’ve made in the past. And so we’re going to do a bunch of screenings at festivals in the spring and then sort of make a decision about whether we’ll do a theatrical release or not.”

In the meantime, Steph Curry’s got a busy schedule on the court. His Warriors head to Boston for a Thursday night game against the Celtics – the team they defeated last year for the NBA title – followed by an away game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and a home matchup Sunday evening against the Brooklyn Nets (the team his brother Seth plays for). The next day, if all works out, he’ll arrive at Sundance.

Anticipate a tremendous welcome for a man who might be described as the people’s superstar.

“Players like Kareem or Jordan or Kobe — Kobe, for sure — LeBron, people see them as like a god or as something unattainable,” Nicks observes. “Whereas Steph — not only is he sort of a smaller guy, like he’s my height, 6’ 2”, maybe 6’ 3”, skinny, so that allows people to relate to him, but what I think more so allows people to relate to him is his humility, his demeanor. Which, having met his family and having spendt time with them, I tell you goes right back to his parents, to Sonya, to Del, his siblings, Seth and Sydel, are the most wonderful people. They’re just very humble, super nice people. And that’s how they were raised.”

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