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Bob McKillop explains why he decided to give Steph Curry a scholarship after “he was awful” in a game

Steph “threw the ball into the stands, he dropped passes, he dribbled off his foot, he missed shots.” Yet, Bob McKillop saw something that made him confident Curry deserved a spot on his team.
Davidson Wildcats head coach Bob McKillop talks to guards Stephen Curry

Davidson Wildcats head coach Bob McKillop and Steph Curry

It’s hard to view Steph Curry as an underdog. He’s dominated the game a long time, won three NBA championships, two MVPs back to back, is the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, and is widely considered to be the greatest shooter ever. But before Steph Curry became Chef Curry, who cooks something special for opposing teams every night, according to his college coach, he was an underdog, 

What made Steph Curry special

Davidson coach Bob McKillop saw a young Curry before becoming the baller we know today. Ignored by Division I schools, Davidson was among the few who offered Steph a scholarship. McKillop attended a game where Curry did not play well but what he saw was enough to believe in him.

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He played in one of the auxiliary gyms, not the main gym. And he was awful. He threw the ball into the stands, he dropped passes, he dribbled off his foot, he missed shots. But never once during that game did he blame an official, or point a finger at a teammate. He was always cheering from the bench, he looked in his coaches eyes, and he never flinched. That stuck with me.

Bob McKillop, GQ

An underdog doesn’t have the luxury of having choices. Even though he was Dell Curry's kid and grew up in a well-off household, Curry still had to prove he deserved a chance. What impressed McKillop was Steph's character. It’s easy to become an exemplary individual when things go your way, but Curry showed determination despite having a bad game. As they say, you can teach skills, but you can’t teach hunger and humility.

Shedding the underdog tag

Scouting reports didn’t give Curry a chance. They labeled him too small and without the quickness necessary to defend opposing players. Hobbled with ankle issues in his early years in the NBA proved to be a challenge but nothing that Steph couldn't overcome. Now that he is considered the best shooter in the league’s history and with millions in his bank account, what inspires SC30 to continue shedding the underdog tag? Current coach Steve Kerr revealed his prized point guard is working on his defense and body at 34 years old.

He’s built his body in a way that impacts how he can finish at the rim, how he can get into the paint, and get through screens. And it’s also helped him on defense. This stigma has remained from early in his career that he’s a weak defender, and I would just ask anyone to watch him night to night.

With the Golden State Warriors back in the NBA Finals to face the Boston Celtics, Steph Curry has a chance to add another trophy and a first Finals MVP to his collection of achievements. In large part, thanks to Davidson and coach McKillop who took a chance and trusted Steph before all of these record-breaking seasons happened. Sometimes, that’s all a player needs: trust and a chance to show what he’s capable of. 

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