OAKLAND, Calif. — Unlike the Kardashians, Simon Cowell and Donald Trump, Warriors star Stephen Curry has vowed not to break this self-imposed rule.
“I never want to have a reality show of my life,” Curry told Bay Area News Group.
So when he weighed his latest venture with Facebook Watch, Curry admitted feeling “very skeptical” on agreeing to the project. He only did so once he realized this could be another platform to highlight his storied NBA career, while also promoting his Christian faith and family that shaped both his upbringing and success.
“It only made more sense. It was easy for me,” Curry said. “I just did what I normally do. It’s been an interesting and fun experience for me.”
Curry hosted a screening of his Facebook Watch show called “Stephen vs. The Game” this week in Oakland. The six-episode series debuts on May 2 and captures behind-the-scenes footage both of Curry’s championship run with the Warriors and his family life at home. Unlike the Kardashian spinoff shows, American Idol or the Apprentice, though, “Stephen vs. The Game” does not center on drama. Instead, it centers on Curry’s joy.
“Steph is the real deal. He’s so genuine and authentic,” said Gotham Chopra, the show’s director. “As a storyteller, you’re always looking for conflict. That’s what makes great stories. But this is a relatively conflict-free guy. Somewhere along the line, we realized this is something to celebrate.”
The filming began during the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets and continued during varying pivot points through this season. The first episode featured a mix of family home videos during Curry’s childhood. It has interviews with Curry, his wife (Ayesha), his mother (Sonya) and his father (Dell). It shows behind-the-scenes footage, ranging from Curry at the Warriors’ championship parade, his golf outings, his offseason training sessions and his home life.
The series will then release episodes on May 9, May 16, May 23 and May 30. As for the sixth and final episode, the content all depends on if the Warriors become the sixth NBA team to win three consecutive league championships.
“When you see your life on the screen of things that you think are normal, you notice there’s a lot going on,” Curry said. “I try to apply some things on a daily basis in terms of keeping my focus on where it needs to go. But when I’ve watched a whole episode, it is a lot. It takes a lot of people around you to help me accomplish what I want to do, including my wife, my kids and my extended family.”
The most vivid scene involved what happened following the Warriors’ season-opening win against Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena.
Just as it has played out in three of the past four years, the Warriors’ season opener also coincided with receiving their latest championship ring. Around 2 a.m. the following morning, Curry stood by his kitchen counter appearing wide awake.
Curry’s three championship rings were spread out on his kitchen counter. Curry and his wife, Ayesha, then opened a bottle of wine and reflected on the journey.
That marks one of many examples in which Chopra captured Curry’s intimate moments without violating either his personal or family privacy.
“We’re doing this together. So what do you want to share with the world?” Chopra said. “I’m not a reporter digging a story. I have a journalist background. This is not journalism. This is film making. This is a creative exercise.”
Chopra has completed this creative exercise plenty of times. He made similar documentaries with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady titled “Tom vs. Time,” a six-episode series that captured his successful fight in delaying Father Time during his fifth Super Bowl victory in 2016. Chopra also worked with former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant on his self-named “Muse” documentary, which centered on his NBA career, personal life and fight to recover from a surgically repaired left Achilles tendon (2012-13) and torn rotator cuff on his right shoulder (2014-15).
Chopra’s resume softened Curry’s initial reservations about a project. But once Curry began working with Chopra, he noticed the players’ differences quickly.
Chopra developed trust with Brady because of a years-long relationship. Chopra said he simply benefitted from Curry’s trusting nature, which served as a strong contrast to Bryant. Chopra described Bryant as “combative” and was “sitting over the editor’s shoulder.”
Chopra had originally conducted interviews with assorted Lakers and NBA figures for Bryant’s documentary. At Bryant’s direction, though, the documentary then solely centered on himself. Bryant stared into the camera and shared candidly about the positive and negative experiences of his professional and personal life.
Just as he had done for most of his NBA career, Bryant wanted to shoot whenever he wanted. Just as he often has shown on the court, Curry wanted his teammate to feel comfortable. Hence, Chopra said there were often instances that Curry told him unprompted, “You should be up here tomorrow.”
“He’s much more soft spoken. He will give feedback,” Chopra said of Curry. “But he’s also trying to be respectful of me and my team and thinks, ‘I don’t want to tell you how to do your job.’ He’ll tell you if there’s something he’s sensitive about or something like that. But it’s a much more (softer touch). It’s not a criticism. Kobe is combative. That’s what drives him. Steph is collaborative. That’s where his success is.”
Curry and Chopra showed their collaborative nature during a panel before a select group of guests, including Warriors forward Jordan Bell. While Curry called Chopra an “extremely talented storyteller,” Chopra had Curry open up on a number of topics.
Who is in Curry’s top five? Curry listed Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson in that order. Curry then predicted, “that’ll be a headline in about five minutes. 3, 2,1 check your phones!!!”
Who is the toughest defender Curry has ever faced? He deadpanned, “Coach Kerr when he takes me out of the game.”
Who is the toughest for Curry to defend? Curry shouted out his younger brother, Seth.
What is Curry’s legacy? The 31-year-old Curry punted, while also revealing his thoughts about his longevity toward the end of his 10-year NBA career.
“I still feel like I got plenty of years left in my prime. So I don’t know what that feeling is yet,” Curry said. “I don’t want to place myself anywhere because I feel like I’m still working. I’ll let other people talk about it until I’m done and truly hang them up and truly sit back and think about all the great things that happened.”
Does Curry consider himself the NBA’s greatest shooter? Plenty believe so. But Curry, who has 2,285 career 3’s, remains mindful that Ray Allen (2,973) and Reggie Miller (2,560) are still ahead of him on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list.
“I’m still chasing it. I’m going after it,” Curry said. “Don’t get me twisted. But I still have some work to do.”
The documentary captures more than just Curry’s basketball journey, though.
Chopra said he mostly enjoyed shooting footage of Curry performing every-day tasks, such as cooking eggs for breakfast or hanging out with his two daughters (Riley, Ryan) and newborn son (Canon). Chopra tells Curry’s story through family interviews on how his underdog mentality as a scrawny shooter motivated him during his childhood. And the film captures Curry’s devout Christian faith.
“My walk with Jesus and my faith definitely defines my purpose in life,” Curry said. “Everything I do and act on is with that perspective and that lends itself with the joy I have and the play on the court. I have that smile on my face because I really remind myself that I get to play at the highest level every single night in front of millions of people that are watching. I’ve been blessed with a family I get to share experiences with. “I’m thankful for my parents who set the foundation for me and my siblings and how we should carry ourselves and find that relationship for ourselves. Everything I do is within that realm.”
Because of those influences, Curry founded Unanimus Media with his business partners Jeron Smith and Erick Payton to produce film projects centered on family, faith and sports.
“Breakthrough,” which debuts on April 17, tells the story on how a 14-year-old basketball player survived a drowning because of prayer. Curry held a screening at Howard University in late January for the documentary, “Emanuel.” That documentary will be released nationally in select theatres on June 17, marking the fourth-year anniversary when 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and shot and killed nine black people.
And after that? Curry admitted uncertainty for a specific reason.
“Starting Friday, I’m off the grid in terms of focusing obviously on another championship,” Curry said. “We’ve been laying the foundation for a while now. I’m excited to share with everybody as well as keep the main thing the main thing, which is winning another championship.”
After all, Curry considers that quest to be the best reality show.