Reporting Dan Bernstein
When he was coaching Eddy Curry on the Bulls, Scott Skiles was asked what Curry could do to become a better rebounder.
He responded, “Jump.”
That exchange tells you what is most important about the bizarre saga of the Chicago native, who returns home tonight as an injured, inactive member of the Knicks.
The Tribune’s K.C. Johnson was prompted to revisit Curry’s history today, essentially describing a good kid who has had a run of bad luck and is waiting for another chance.
I don’t see it that way.
I see somebody who never had to work for what he got, never wanted to work to justify what he was given, and never seemed to understand why he should.
Truly sad stories of unrealized athletic potential are stereotypical: the playground legend interviewed in his childhood home, wistfully wondering what could have happened had bad influences not derailed his chances. The money he could have made, the fame he could have achieved, undermined by poor decisions and unfortunate associations.
Curry is not that guy. Curry has made 70 million dollars.
Sure, it’s all gone now, lost to profligate spending and legal fees associated with an untidy personal life that involves six children by three women. His unending off-court travails and tragedies have been well documented (he was sued for sexual harassment by his chauffeur, his home was robbed, his ex-girlfriend and child were murdered).
What I cannot get past when deciding how to feel about him, though — when I consider everything — is the fact that he’s just been so darn fat.
It’s the least an employer can ask for that kind of money. Stay in shape to do your job.
Run. “Jump.” Exercise.
You can blame the NBA for paying for potential, but that does not excuse a career of poor conditioning. I have a tough time feeling sorry for someone so consistently out of shape while making so much money to not be.
Legend has it that Curry never wanted to play basketball. His remarkable, explosive strength and flexibility led him to gymnastics, but his size defaulted him to hoops as a reluctant seventh-grader.
He has never seemed to love playing, nor love all the work that comes with making the most of such chances — multiple, lucrative chances.
His is not the weepy story of a great athlete undiscovered or undeveloped due to tough circumstances beyond his control.
His is the story of a well-supported, highly compensated, immensely gifted athlete who apparently never appreciated the opportunities he has had.
All he has to do is jump, and he doesn’t want to.