Screen Time for the Home Team: Davidson College Gets Sneak Peek at Stephen Curry Film
They donned red T-shirts for the red carpet; then mugged and added silly hats in the photo booth before catching up with friends. This Hollywood-meets-Davidson College night celebrated a community so loyal that even A-list actors might have a hard time re-creating the love surrounding the featured star.
From the rec center coach who taught the scrappy five-year-old the basics to the Davidson coach who gambled on the skinny teenager to the students he inspires today, they came out big to see Stephen Curry ’10 on the big screen and left even more impressed.
Most people must wait until July to see the film, but on April 24, Davidson hosted the first non-festival premiere screening of the critically acclaimed Stephen Curry: Underrated documentary.
The film follows the Golden State Warriors’ leader’s remarkable climb from childhood to overlooked college prospect to NBA legend.
Curry, in the midst of NBA playoffs, greeted Davidson filmgoers with an onscreen message. Spoiler alert: He loves his alma mater.
“I hope you enjoy this film about where it all started,” he said. “Thank you for the love, and thanks for showing up.”
It’s a coup for a small liberal arts college to be selected for such an event, but watching the two-hour documentary that centers on Curry’s time here unequivocally answers the “Why Davidson?” question.
“There’s the Sundance Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Festival and now the Davidson College Film Festival,” college President Doug Hicks ’90 joked of the documentary’s rare screenings. Fitting, he said, because Curry models Davidson values, “through the way he conducts himself, on the court and off.”
Curry’s combination of extraordinary talent developed through extraordinarily hard work and a drive to make a difference in basketball—and the world—as an underdog, consistently weaves its way through the film.
The family members, teammates, coaches and friends who know him best, and current Davidson students who know him by his legacy, reinforced that message as they pondered his journey, on-screen and off.
“Davidson had a huge role in his life. Leaving home for the first time, spreading his wings and playing for a great coach in a great community—he grew up here,” his father, former NBA star Dell Curry, said before the premiere. “We all have a lot to be thankful to Davidson for.”
The Curry Era
And Davidson has much to thank Curry for, from the national light he’s shined on the college to the worthy ventures he and wife Ayesha support, including Lula Bell’s Resource Center and a scholarship endowment for women’s athletics.
“If there is one constant about Stephen Curry, he has touched our hearts,” former men’s basketball coach Bob McKillop said. “He plays and lives with such great joy. Win, lose, success, failure, he always has joy, and you never leave him without being joyful.”
Highlights of the film include the 2008 NCAA tournament, when Curry and his Wildcat teammates busted the brackets and clawed their way into the Elite Eight. It’s a season filled with triumph and heartbreak, and a few at the premier shed tears.
After the viewing, McKillop, Dell Curry and Jason Richards ’08, Stephen Curry’s Davidson teammate, sat for a panel discussion with Hicks.
“What was it like to be his teammate at Davidson?” Hicks asked Richards.
“When Stephen showed up on campus, we knew there was something special about him,” Richards said. “Seeing the time that he put in, the work ethic that he has, even though he was a freshman, he came as a leader. To see him grow from where he was at Davidson to where he is now, we’d be lying to say we saw this coming. But it doesn’t surprise me because he perfects his craft and continues to get better every day...on and off the court.”
Emmy Award winner Peter Nicks directed and produced the documentary for Apple Original Films and A24. It will appear in select theaters and premiere globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, July 21, 2023.
Nicks produced with Academy Award nominee Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton, Sean Havey, Ben Cotner and Marissa Torres Ericson. Emily Osborne, Sev Ohanian and Zinzi Coogler are executive producers.
“Everyone in the Davidson Community should feel some ownership of this film because Stephen Curry has made that happen,” McKillop said. “Everyone knows where Stephen Curry went to school because Stephen Curry has wanted it to be known. You see Davidson up there in this film and you see that the star of this movie has honored his commitment. He makes us all very proud.”
Richards says Curry inspires loyalty through leadership.
He never forgets where he’s come from. He’s surrounded himself with people with the main goal of elevating others. We’ve seen him do that…we all win as a team when Stephen wins. Whenever people ask me what he’s like, I say the same thing: He’s a better person than he is a basketball player.
An Example to Follow
Davidson students began the first week of classes this year celebrating Curry’s graduation. He earned his degree in August some 12 years after his emotional decision to forego his senior year to play in the NBA.
In a nicely timed arc, the film aired during the last week of classes.
“As soon as I heard about the documentary coming out, I knew I wanted to see it,” Elias Henderson ’24 said. “The fact that we got to see it early, here on campus, is so exciting. I watched the 2008 Elite Eight run. I listened to the Kansas game on a ham radio when I was camping with my dad. Stephen’s legacy was something I always looked up to as a kid,” Henderson said. “He’s always been my favorite basketball player. I also love how and what he continues to support at the college. He displays Davidson’s mantra of giving back.”
That message carries.
“He’s an excellent Davidson success story, somebody who embodies the spirit of a Davidson student and athlete,” said Catherine Tadlock ’24. “He’s such a hard worker and somebody who gives so much to the community."