Monday, May 16, 2016

Is Steph Curry Ruining the Game of Amateur Basketball?

I am going to pose a question that may not be of popular opinion:  Is Steph Curry ruining the game of Basketball?  Some people are going to think I am ridiculous to even write something of this nature, however, lets take a look at the evolution of Steph Curry and the current state of youth basketball.

Steph Curry is an amazing story.  Steph went from a marginal shooting guard, drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2009, to a two-time MVP in 2015 and 2016.  He has captured the hearts of both adults and youth players, giving hope for undersized guards who weren’t the typical fast, athletic, above the rim type player.  Steph, made the game fun again, bringing the "little guy" back into the NBA game.   Lets get something straight, I am a huge fan of Steph Curry.  He is the star for my local team, and an absolute joy to watch as a basketball trainer and coach.  There is no lack of respect here for his game or as him as a person.

Because of Steph's recent successes, it has directly led to a style of play transformation by youth players.  My son Jayden plays, on a competitive 10 and under team in Northern California.  Because of that, I get to travel just about every weekend to support my son at his games.   After 6+ weekends on the circuit, I came to the conclusion that a lot of youth players (and their parents) feel they can become the next Steph Curry.  Normally, having a role model is a good thing, however, Steph Curry’s style of play that is most appealing to his audience are fancy ball handling and his ridiculous long distance shooting range.  A typical Steph highlight is as follows - constant over-dribbling (burning a lot of energy), followed by a very difficult step back (or multiple step back) move to an unbalanced long-distance shot.  Usually well behind the NBA 3-point line………”Splash”.

The word I hear a lot on the youth circuit is “Splash”.  This word is usually preceded by a young player who is pounding the ball way too many times with their head down, followed by an extremely difficult freeze move, or step back move to a shot that is too far for the player to realistically make.  Unfortunately, the crowd feeds the player but making gasps such as “Got em” or “oooooooh”, even though 9 out of 10 times the ball jams to the side of the rim or the back wall of the gym.   However, the one time the ball does go in, the player makes the "3-ball Ok" sign with his fingers, and points to the sky.  Sound familiar?

I do not actually blame Steph Curry for this.   Steph has mastered his craft, spending thousands and thousands of hours mastering the game of basketball.   Steph Curry isn’t a basketball player, he is a basketball artist!  I put Steph Curry on the same pedestal as Picasso, Michelangelo, Archimedes, etc.  These types of individuals can never be imitated by the common folk, because they are one in a million. I can look at my 5 year old daughters drawings on a paper and quickly make an observation that she will not be the next Picasso.   I have personally invented some of the top basketball shooting aids in the world today, J-Glove, J-Strap, and I would never say that my products will make you shoot like Steph Curry.  That would be a complete lie.  

What the media needs to focus on is how brilliant of an all-around player Steph Curry has become.  Rarely do you see ESPN focusing on his unmatched basketball IQ, perfect timing cuts, precision passing, and his much-improved defense.  Furthermore, it has to noted how much of a good teammate he is for the GS Warriors organization.  Steph is the type of player that you to follow as a teammate, and you want your daughter to marry as a parent and fan.   Those are the qualities that make the Golden State Warriors a consistent championship team.

So, back to the question posed in the title.  Is the success of Steph Curry, killing the game of youth basketball currently at the AAU level?  I am blessed to be the founder of Prolific Prep Academy, coaching some of the top high school basketball players around the world.  If one of our players tries to perform one of these “Steph Curry highlights”, I would hope my head coach Billy McKnkight would make him a new assistant coach on the bench.  Why?  Cause Steph Curry isn’t real, he is a once in a generation type talent (artists).  The odds of being able to mimic his game are as realistic as Donald Trump winning the Presidency (oh wait, that may not be a good analogy).  

I got another question.  Was youth basketball in better hands back in 2000 when every youth player in the country was trying to mimic the Allen Iverson crossover? At least that led to more youth players driving to the rim for a much higher percentage basketball play.     Something to think about.........until next blog. 

Jeremy Russotti is the founder of Prolific Prep Academy (Napa, California),, Green Room Training, and inventor of Global Sports Innovation, LLC product line.  Thank you for reading my blogs. Please send your comments and topics to talk about for the future.