Quick Review: GOLDEN by Marcus Thompson (Atria)

ThompsonM-GoldenStephCurryAn interesting biography of an unexpected basketball talent

The inside story of Steph Curry, the greatest shooter basketball has ever seen.

Golden is the first book to provide an all-access look at Steph Curry and the team that has fueled Dub Nation — by longtime Warriors beat reporter and Bay Area News Group sports columnist Marcus Thompson, the go-to expert on all things Golden State.

A lifelong Warriors fan turned insider Thompson is uniquely qualified to tell the definitive story of a singular talent, pulling back the curtain on the crazy work ethic and on-court intensity that make Curry great — and the emphasis on family and faith that keeps him grounded.

Combining the competitive grit and fun-loving spirit of his mother with the mild demeanor, easy charm, and sharp shooting of his father, former NBA player Dell Curry, Steph Curry derives support and strength from his close-knit kin and his commitment to Christianity. This hard-working, wholesome image however is both a blessing and curse in a League of big personalities. Thompson unravels the complicated underpinnings of the Steph Curry hate with a nuanced analysis of how class and complexion come into play when a child with an NBA pedigree becomes the face of a sport traditionally honed on inner-city black top and dominated by the less privileged.

With unprecedented access, Thompson draws from exclusive interviews with Steph Curry, his family, his teammates, Coach Steve Kerr, and the Warriors owners to bring readers inside the locker room and courtside with this remarkable athlete and man.

With the NBA season back and in full swing, I found myself in the mood to read about some of the various basketball books I’ve picked up over the years. Steph Curry and the Warriors were a juggernaut in recent years, which naturally led to the publication of a few books about the team and its stars. Originally published in 2017, I decided it was well-passed time for me to read Golden. It’s an interesting book, let down only by its subject.

How to review this biography? This is a bit of an issue with Golden. Thompson is a very good writer, and he clearly knows and loves basketball and the Warriors. (He currently writes for The Athletic, and is a long-time resident of and journalist in the Bay Area.) He uses certain key games and playoff/finals series to craft an arc of Steph Curry’s career and rise to superstardom. All of them are examples of good basketball writing/journalism. In between, Thompson provides some details and/or examination of Curry’s career and life.

The accounts of the games and series are interesting. However, it turns out that Steph Curry isn’t really that interesting a subject to read about. (I had a similar experience reading this as I do books about Bruce Springsteen: the subject is a phenomenal talent, but the biography’s a bit dull and through no fault of the author.)

Steph Curry is still rather young, of course, but he’s achieved so much already — the many shooting records, the back-to-back MVP awards (one unanimous), the championships. By all measure, he is a golden boy. While this is not something to sneer at, nor dismiss, it doesn’t make him an especially gripping subject. Sure, a book about Denis Rodman would probably be more interesting and packed with gossip, anecdotes, and shenanigans. The “unprecedented access” doesn’t really bring up much in the way of revelations. (A single profile by Carvell Wallace provided almost as much insight into the player.) Thompson provides some good analysis and theories about what drives Curry, as well as solid analysis of his game, his evolution as a player, and more.

The book ends on a hopeful and positive note. I just think it needed a bit more — maybe some more interviews with Curry, or perhaps more input from his teammates, opponents, etc. Certain aspects of Curry’s work are dealt with only in passing — he’s active in the battle against malaria, but we don’t get any more than that statement. The book felt a little unbalanced. The accounts of games and series were long and detailed (not to mention stat-packed), but the analysis and story between were much thinner. Some of the most interesting portions of the book weren’t about Curry. The most interesting anecdote can be found in the caption for a photo of Curry and Obama (what Michelle Obama told Curry to say to the President during golf). These details could have made the book more engaging and interesting.

So, I’d say Golden is a must read for Golden State Warriors fans, and also anyone who is interested in a player who has helped reshape the modern NBA (for good or ill, depending on your preferences). For more casual fans, however, it might not be as gripping. I found it quite interesting, but I think I just wanted a bit more depth to the portrait. Thompson does a very good job, but maybe Curry biographies need to be held off until he’s further along in his career? The author’s follow-up book, KD, is also out now and I’ll be reading and reviewing it very soon — I imagine that one is more interesting because Kevin Durant is a generally more interesting person.

If you’re looking for a more general, and more recent book about the Warriors, I’d recommend Ethan Sherwood Strauss’s The Victory Machine. I would also highly recommend Andre Iguodala & Carvell Wallace’s The Sixth Man (which I’ll be reviewing later this week).

*

Marcus Thompson’s Golden is out now, published by Atria Books in North America and Authentic Media in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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