Marcus Thompson II covered the Warriors for ten years, so he has seen the franchise emerge from the bottom of the heap to an incredibly popular, highly marketable and incredibly fun to watch team – and the centerpiece of their success is Wardell Stephen Curry, also known as Steph.
In Golden, Thompson tells the story of Curry’s rise to superstardom, and goes into a significant amount of detail about his years at Davidson, a college not known as a basketball powerhouse. As the son of an NBA player (Dell Curry), Steph was familiar with the trappings of fame and the lifestyle made possible by playing at a high level in the NBA. In fact, Thompson points out in the chapter “Curry Hate” that being the son of an NBA player is one of the marks against him – a reason he is the target of hate. (The two other reasons for the animus toward Curry are his light skin and his wholesome image.
The whole light skinned thing is covered in depth, and Thompson doesn’t shy away from discussing racism and the issue of varying shades of color among NBA players (which I confess I found fascinating). Equally interesting was the detail about what has driven Steph to become the most popular NBA player (with his jersey ranked #1 in sales in multiple years).
As a Bay Area resident, I appreciated Thompson’s in-depth look at how “In a span of a few years, the Warriors went from a cute start-up, the trendy watch for those in the know, to champion, to despised favorite.”
Along the way, Steph’s journey has taken him from the “unathletic” kid who loved the game to be known as the Baby Faced Assassin. “The alter ego that would turn the kindest cutest kid around into a vindictive, explosive predator on the court.”
Despite the “Curry Hate” mentioned above (which I admit I really don’t get), Steph continues to be beloved by parents who want their kids to look up to someone with such a wholesome image. And he treats people well: “He has an uncanny ability to make people walk away from a Curry interaction feeling like they have a new friend who is really good at basketball.”
There is something for everyone in this book: human interest stories about his family, historical perspective on both Steph and the Warriors, and lots and lots of detail about specific games as well as specific details that a true hoops fan will appreciate. In discussing the debate as to whether Steph is a point guard or a shooting guard, we are told that “He is a point guard who can light up the scoreboard with the best of shooting guards. He is a shooting guard with all the skills of a top point guard.”
As both a basketball fan and a Curry fan, I enjoyed the book. Thompson’s long tenure covering the team made him an ideal candidate to write this story, which will be appreciated by the many Warriors fans in general and Steph Curry fans in particular.
The book presumes some knowledge about the league, the team, and Steph himself. Because the book needs some editing to tighten up the organization and make it flow more smoothly from one chapter to the next as well as providing some context for a curious reader who is less knowledgeable, I gave it 3.5 stars (which will show up as only 3, but it’s better than that). And frankly, I’m not sure how to find the balance: if you make it more clear for those unfamiliar with the game/player, the basketball geeks might be bored. In any case, I appreciate the chance to read an advance copy in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, Touchstone and NetGalley!