Skip to content

Stephen Curry: I was undersized and failed the eye test but mindset made me an NBA great

Curry: "When I was coming up I was undersized and didn't pass the eye test. Every gym I walked into or team I played on, I was always the smallest. I always had this underrated mindset from the beginning. There was a lot of people who told me what I couldn't do or couldn't be"

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Steph Curry's Underrated Golf Tour is heading to Europe for the first time starting at Walton Heath Golf Club.

Stephen Curry, a four-time NBA winner with Golden State Warriors, has told Sky Sports he "failed the eye test" as a young kid trying to make it in the sport before becoming one of the greats.

The 35-year-old has flourished as one of the most recognisable figures in professional basketball over the last decade or so, holding the highest career free-throw percentage in NBA history (91.0%) and the NBA record for three-pointers made in a regular season with 402 in 2016, beating his own previous record of 286.

He picked up NBA titles in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022, and was named the NBA's MVP in 2015 and 2016. He is a 10-time NBA All-Star.

Yet his was not a straightforward journey to the top. In fact, Curry has told Sky Sports, but for his spirit in the face of criticism, he would not have made it.

"It's really cool to talk about the origins of my basketball career," he said. "Basketball is in my blood. My dad [Dell Curry] played in the NBA for 16 years, and so there was a little internal conflict on having basketball be a part of the family business.

"When I was coming up through the ranks playing organised basketball when I was nine years old, I was undersized and didn't really pass the eye test.

"Every gym I walked into or team I played on, I was always the smallest kid on the team.

Latest NBA Stories

Fans cheer after Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Image: Curry is now one of the most celebrated and recognisable NBA players, but faced plenty of criticism and negativity while trying to make it

"I always had this underrated mindset from the beginning. If I ever got the opportunity to compete against the best, I knew I could hold my own, but there were a lot of criticisms about my game coming up.

"There was a lot of people who told me what I couldn't do or couldn't be.

"I had to kind of embrace all of that, and pretty much at every level from nine years old to middle school basketball, to high school basketball, there were a lot of barriers in the sense of who I thought I was as a basketball player, and what people thought of me.

"I kind of carried that underrated spirit all the way through, didn't get many college recruiting letters or scholarship offers from many of the big schools in Division One college basketball, and I was really a late bloomer.

"It got to the point where I did get one offer from Davidson College, which is a small liberal arts school in North Carolina which had about 1900 students at the time, and all I needed was a little opportunity and a coach that believed in me.

"The rest is history from there on. Walking in my purpose as a basketball player, developing a great work ethic that I still rely on to this day.

Curry won the most recent of his four NBA titles in the 2-21-22 season
Image: Curry won the most recent of his four NBA titles in the 2021-2022 season

"Now I'm 15 years in the NBA and trying to extend as long as possible, but that underrated mindset still exists and still lives within me today, and it's cool to let that branch off into the golf space as well."

Last year, Curry launched Underrated Golf with a focus on providing equity, access and opportunity to young golfers, who otherwise may never have had the chance to experience national events.

The Underrated Golf Tour, consisting of four regional stops at some of the most prestigious courses in the US, will kick off the 2024 Season in the UK at Walton Heath Golf Course in Tadworth.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

NBA legend Curry showed his talent isn't limited to the court as hit an incredible hole-in-one at the American Century Championship celebrity tournament

'A delusional drive'

When asked where his drive came from to continue attempting to pursue his dream career, Curry says it's something he feels was always there.

"I had it but it was validated by the people who saw how I carried myself," he added to Sky Sports.

"You could probably call it a little bit delusional at times. You can see me as the scrawny kid trying to guard the best player on the floor, trying to play with competition that was above me because I felt like I belonged.

"But it was validated by people around me that said: keep doing what you're doing, keep believing in yourself, and keep having that mindset of taking every opportunity you get to play basketball.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry reacts to a fans comments during the second half of Game 7 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings
Image: Curry admits his drive to succeeded verged on the 'delusional' in his journey to the top

"I've carried that. The hard part now is when you've had a little bit of success, there's a temptation to lose that spirit and mindset, and I've had to remind myself of where I came from and how far I've come to maintain that.

"Seeing the next generation of kids that I have an ability to influence and inspire, and help create opportunity in some of the stuff I'm doing off the court.

"I feel like there's something approachable about the way I play the game. Even if you see me play against the guys in the NBA right now, I still look like the smallest guy out there, but I try to play way above my stature.

"People have gravitated to the way I play, and have hopefully been inspired by it."

Around Sky