LTAD - A Look at Stephen Curry's Longshot Journey by E:60

April 30, 2014, 5:23 p.m. (ET)

I recently watched an ESPN E:60 show, that included the following story on how Stephen Curry went from multisport athlete through high school and college unseen at the start – to NBA All Star – the transcript is typed below to show each part of his long term athletic development (LTAD). His journey spoke volumes to me about the importance of giving players a love of the game and of keeping as many players involved as long as possible – not cutting any player unless they chose to cut themselves or found a new sport to love.  The link to the video itself is at the end of the transcript. 

E:60 Stephen Curry (Full Segment HD)

The following takes place in an ESPN meeting room:

ESPN Producer: (holds up picture of Stephen Curry) Jeff, best shooter in the NBA right now?

Jeffri Chadiha (ESPN Reporter): I think he is.

Lisa Salters (ESPN  Reporter) : Best 3-point shooter in the NBA.

ESPN Reporter: Who is the best shooter overall? Labron?

Lisa: No! Kevin Durant is better.

Other ESPN Reporter: Really?!

Jeffri  Chadiha: I’ll take this guy because he is pretty special. And in a few years in the NBA he has become a superstar.

Chris Connelly (ESPN Reporter): He is the first twitter star of the NBA. When he goes off, everybody goes to twitter and says, “You’ve got to watch the Warriors, he’s gone off”.

Wayne Drehs (ESPN Reporter): And the next day, there are more Steph Curry clips going around, on the days that he goes off, than any player in the NBA. You gotta see what he did last night.

Jeffri Chadiha: But as easy as he makes the game look, his road to greatness has not been anything close to as smooth as you might imagine.

The following is the story of Stephen Curry:

Del Curry (Stephen’s Father): Today is a big ticket today. Everybody’s still offering me tickets. Steph needed 45-50 tickets, and I will probably still get a call before I get to the arena, maybe even before the game starts. Here comes another call for tickets…right on key.

JC ESPN Reporter: It is December in Charlotte, North Carolina. Del Curry,  a TV analist for the Bobcats, is on his way to work. It is a short trip that represents a long journey.

Del: It’s a fathers dream to watch your son compete and do the things that you did. And he’s better than you are. No doubt about it. I can still shoot a little bit, but he’s way better than I ever was.

JC ESPN Reporter: He is the Golden State Warriors all-star guard, Del’s oldest son, 26 year old, Stephen Curry. 

Stephen Curry: (talking about his dad) Still surreal to me, for real. I mean, to come and play against him and see him on the sidelines. And I know he is commentating on me now; trying to stay as neutral as possible probably. But, it’s still surreal to me, for sure.

JC ESPN Reporter: Surreal; because the NBA’s best shooter was once a longshot.

Coach ?: (talking about Stephen) I don’t think anyone could imagine what he has done on the basketball court. We knew he had the work ethic, drive, and dedication, and the want. But, you just don’t know how things are going to work out.

JC ESPN Reporter: March 14, 1988, Wardel Stephen Curry II was born. That summer, his father, a 6’ 4” shooting guard joined the Charlotte Hornets’; who would make 12,000 “3’s” in 16 seasons, earning a reputation as one of the best shooters in the game. 

Del: (flashback to 1995 interview) It’s good that my teammates, they know that when I am in the zone they are going to do everything they can to get me the ball.

Stephen: I remember on school nights wishing I could go to the games. My mom would say, “No, you can’t go to the game on school nights because you will not get home until 11 or 12”. So when they had Friday or Saturday night games --that was like the biggest deal for us because we knew we were going to the game that night.

JC ESPN Reporter: How much time did Del spend teaching him the game?

Sonya Curry (Stephen’s Mother): Not very much at all, because we wanted it to just let it come naturally.

Stephen: I was a competitive guy. I loved all sports that I played.  There was something about basketball and doing what your dad did that had a little more of a draw to it.

Del: He didn’t have to follow in his Dad’s footsteps. He could do anything he wanted to do. Try anything he wanted to do. As long as he gave it 100%.

Stephen: When I was in 8th grade I made the decision to spend all year round on it. And do what it took was necessary to play in college. 

JC ESPN Reporter: But as a high-school sophomore, Stephan stood just 5’6”, and weighed 125 pounds. Lacking strength, he still shot the ball from his waist.

Del: I told him that if he wanted to play in college you’re going to have to bring it up, and get it up above your head, over your forehead. So, we worked at it all summer. That was a tough summer for him.

Seth Curry (Stephen’s Brother): It was tough for me to watch them in the backyard, late nights, a lot of hours on the day, working on his shot, cause they broke it down to a point where he couldn’t even shoot at all. There would be bad times crying and not wanting to work on his game.  He had to do it rep after rep after rep until he was able to master it.

JC ESPN Reporter: With his re-mastered shot, Stephen average just under 20 points a game his junior season of high school.

Stephen: Growing up in Tar heel Country, you want to play for Duke, NC State, Carolina, and Wake Forest. I wanted to play at that level.

Roy Williams (North Carolina Head Coach): I don’t ever remember even seeing him. I do know that when I did see him I thought, “Man, he is little.”

JC ESPN Reporter: The only major program to recruit Stephen was his father’s alma-mater, Virginia Tech. And even they said he would have to walk on.

Seth: I don’t think he has ever said it before, but you could tell that it hurt him a little bit.

JC ESPN Reporter: (talking to Stephen) How did you handle the disappointment of those bigger schools not coming after you?

Stephen: I used it as motivation that summer before my senior year in school to just play my game and the right coach and right college will come and make their selves known that they wanted me.

JC ESPN Reporter: That college was Davidson. A small liberal arts school, 20 minutes north of home.

Bob McKillop (Davidson Head Coach): The big school didn’t recruit him because of his appearance, I think. His size, his stature. People just saw him as a low-major, mid-major guard that they were a dime a dozen.

JC ESPN Reporter: What did you see in him?

Bob: I saw brilliance.

Stephen: Just the way he talked and the confidence he expressed and how I could impact the time right away. If I allowed him to let him coach me, that good things would happen.

Bob: His first game, as a college player, he started against Eastern Michigan up in Ann Arbor, and in the first half he had 9 turnovers. We are down 18 points at halftime. I am re-thinking weather he belongs to be in the starting line-up. Put him in the starting line-up in the second half, we won the game. Next night against Michigan he dropped 32.

Del: I was very surprised when we passed coach McKillop in the airport, and he grabbed me and wife and goes, “Your son is going to make a lot of money playing this game someday”. I’m thinking, “Yeah, ok, maybe somewhere overseas”. (laughs)

JC ESPN Reporter: But the best was yet to come for Stephen; who had grown to 6’3” by his sophomore season. March 21, 2008, the NCAA tournament. With his parents in the stands, Stephen scored 40 against Gonzaga. Two days later, he dropped 30 on Georgetown.

Sonya: I don’t think I have the words to, kind of, describe that whole experience. I mean, we just sat there and scratched our heads from home and say, “Can you believe that?!” And we would ride home in silence because it was just like... "What is he going to show us next time?”

JC ESPN News Reporter: (talking about Stephen in the NCAA Championships). The star of the tournament, his legend continues to grow, Stephen Currie.

JC ESPN Reporter: He averaged 32 points a game in Davidsons Cinderella run to the Elite Eight. In a span of 10 days, “Stephen Currie” had become a household name.

Seth: When you change from being Del’s son to Del being his father.

Del: A couple days later, the Bobcats had a game and we got tickets. I told him, “Hey, we will bring Steph to the game”. The security calls me and goes, “Do you need security?” I said, “Na, we don’t need security, what do you mean? He comes to the games all the time”.  He said, “OK”. So we get to the game and a mob formed quickly, he was like a rockstar. I am like, “We need some security here.” (Laughs).  Things have changed.

JC ESPN Reporter: In his junior season, there was more of the same. He led the nation in scoring; averaging almost 29 points a game. Then declared for the 2009 NBA draft.

Stephen: I kind of heard the same stuff outside, going into the NBA, I’m too small, not athletic enough, can’t play defense, not strong enough. I was nervous; obviously making that transition is a big deal.

NBA DRAFT SPEAKER: (flashback) With the 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select, Stephen Curry from Davidson College.

JC ESPN Reporter: In 2010, Stephen finished 2nd in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting. But in the next two seasons, chronic right ankle problems would force him to miss 48 games and undergo 2 surgeries.

Stephen: Every question I got was, “How are you ankles? Are you going to be the suedo Grant Hill story—where you have an injury that kind of holds you back from reaching your full potential?”

Del: He’s always injured the rumors and everything, it’s really tough so it was good he was here around family, to keep that encouragement while he was rehabbing. But again, he is very competitive, determined that he wasn’t going to let it stop him.

JC ESPN Reporter: After six months of rehab, In November of 2012, Curry returned for his 4th season. He set a new single season NBA 3-point record. Signed a 4-year, 44 million dollar contract extension, and led the warriors to the playoffs in the first round upset of the Denver Nuggets.

Mark Jackson (Warriors Coach): Steph has more game than his pops. And that is with all-due respect to old school basketball and Del. To me, Steph Curry has blossomed into a superstar. He has simply become the face of this franchise.

JC ESPN Reporter: He has also become like his father; a family man. Stephen lives in Oakland with his wife, Ayesha, who he met in high school, and their 2 –year-old daughter, Riley.

Stephen: I just love coming home and seeing her (Riley), and seeing what she learned today and see her smiling and having fun and lighting up not only my eyes, my wife’s eyes, but my whole family. They don’t really worry about me or my wife anymore, they just say, “Where’s Riley at?” (Laughs)

Ayesha (Stephen’s wife): Typically, he’s at practice, comes home, and we are chilling, cooking dinner, watching Modern Family on the couch, playing with Riley. We are the most normal people on the face of the planet. It’s kind of sad. (Laughs)

JC ESPN Reporter: (talking about Stephen’s new hobbies) But on this September day, something far from normal…

Stephen: (talking about the trapeze) I’ve never really been afraid of heights, but looking at this, I kind of am starting to.

JC ESPN Reporter: Just a week before training camp, Stephen and Ayesha, are trying something new.

**Clip of Stephen and Ayesha doing the trapeze together**

JC ESPN Reporter: Reaching new heights was a fitting to start to Stephen’s fifth NBA season. He was voted a starter at his first all-star game, in New Orleans. That weekend confirmed how far Stephen Curry has come. The undersized kid from Charlotte, the longshot, has become the talk of the NBA.

Del: I often get guys that I play with, guys still in league say, “I pay to watch you son play”. That’s the ultimate compliment.

Stephen: (speaking to a banquet filled room) I just to say thank you to everybody in this room. To enjoy this whole experience with each and every one of you is definitely something I will remember, so thank you. Every bit of the journey was worth it. Who would have thought? This is crazy.

E60 show on Enstein U channel