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Eddy Curry awaits for yet another chance

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Eddy Curry awaits for yet another chance

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-spt-1104-bulls-...

Professional sports are littered with athletes who received second, third, sometimes even fourth chances.

Eddy Curry, who has let his weight balloon, his substantial earnings dwindle and his once-promising skills stagnate, is waiting for his next chance.

Curry, the affable center whom Jerry Krause drafted with the fourth pick in the 2001 draft as an 18-year-old out of Thornwood High School, is in town Thursday with the Knicks. Come tipoff, Curry, 27, will again be in street clothes, courtesy of yet another tweaked hamstring.

In fact, of all the negativity that has followed Curry like a cloud over the last few seasons — the off-the-court dramas and the on-the-court invisibility — perhaps the most damning summary is this: It barely takes two hands to count the number of NBA games he has played in since April 2008.

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Ten times in 31 months Curry has taken to the court for a total of 73 minutes. That he is in the final season of a six-year, $60 million deal makes that inactivity even more galling.

"It's a shame because I know how talented he is and what he's capable of doing," Mavericks center Tyson Chandler said in a recent interview.

Curry and Chandler entered the NBA together, forever bound by Krause's "Twin Toddlers" plan and their shared journey of navigating those early seasons as teenagers. Chandler said he still loves Curry — everybody loves Curry — but doesn't talk to him much because "he changes his contact stuff up so much that I had to forget about it."

The downward arc of Curry's career pains Chandler.

"It's tough watching him sit in New York without an opportunity," Chandler said. "If you get an opportunity to display your talents and don't play well, that's one thing. But when you're down in this league and not getting an opportunity, things weigh more on you.

"I haven't seen him recently, so I don't know what he looks like. But when he's around that 285, 290 area, he's one of the best bigs in this league. He's athletic, he has a soft touch, he's almost unstoppable in the post.

"I still think to this day when he commits himself and focuses he can be a force in this league. The year he led the league in field-goal percentage, that wasn't a fluke."

That 2002-03 season, when Curry shot 58.5 percent, represented the start of happier times. Two seasons later, Curry, a svelte 282 pounds, teamed with Chandler and rookies Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni to take the Scott Skiles-led Bulls to the postseason for the first time since 1998.

But an irregular heartbeat before a March 30, 2005 game at Charlotte eventually forced Curry off the playoff roster and began a dizzying run of off-the-court episodes that tempered his brief successes in between.

First came a debate with Bulls management over DNA testing that aided his sign-and-trade transaction to the Knicks in October 2005.

Then came unthinkable stuff: His wife, Patrice, and he were tied up and robbed at gunpoint at their Burr Ridge mansion in July 2007. His former male chauffeur sued Curry for sexual harassment and racial discrimination in January 2009, neither of which were proved.

And later that month, Curry's former girlfriend and their nine-month-old daughter were murdered. Their 3-year-old-son was unharmed at the scene, but an ugly custody battle for him ensued.

All of these occurred amid rampant financial issues.

"We still talk about everything — life, basketball, rappers," Jamal Crawford said in a phone interview. "He's definitely frustrated and wants to get back."

Crawford and Curry spent six seasons together, three with the Bulls and three with the Knicks. They remain close; Crawford, who now plays for Atlanta, said he talked to Curry this week.

"People forget Eddy is a good player when he's healthy and in shape," Crawford said. "Basketball can be a release for his off-the-court stuff. That's where he's happiest."

Curry's critics debate this, pointing to his consistent poor conditioning. Curry reported to Knicks camp at 321 pounds this year. But as recently as 2006-07, Curry posted career-high averages of 19.5 points and seven rebounds while shooting 57.6 percent for the Knicks. He also experienced success under Skiles and Bill Cartwright with the Bulls.

"I enjoyed my time with Eddy," Cartwright said by phone. "When we had him, he was 280 pounds and you saw this massive potential. He had great hands. He was quick as a cat. He could score.

"Some guys need a little more attention. Some of the things Tyson didn't need, Eddy needed. That was fine. We gave it to him because we wanted him to be successful."

Curry still has value. His $11.3 million contract expires after this season, making him a potential commodity near the February 2011 trade deadline.

If he isn't dealt, there's some league buzz the Knicks will release Curry and the Heat may show interest. The next chance?

"Certainly you'd like to see him get an opportunity to come back and play," Cartwright said. "It's really on him to see if he wants to go after it."

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Ohhhhhh, the slow death for Knick fans when he lands in Miami.


McDunkin
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I guarantee that the McRib

I guarantee that the McRib will derail his comeback.

BothTeamsPlayedHard
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There are a lot of players

There are a lot of players around the league who like him, and his resume before D'Antoni arrived is pretty decent. He is going to get another chance.

McWinning
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Just shows how much the Heat

Just shows how much the Heat orginazation is spoiling Lebron.

Only reason their getting him is with Pittman out their need a bis ass to warm Lebrons seat.

Mr.Knick 32
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I actually agree. Before

I actually agree. Before D'Antoni (who I didn't want as a coach)

people forget Curry had some good seasons. He and Randolph weren't a great fit together to say the least but I can remember some pretty good Curry games. If that man gets into game shape and stuff, I wouldn't be shocked if he gets traded, cut and signs with the Heat and does well.

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