The summer of 2001 was supposed to be the beginning of a new Bulls dynasty. In that summer’s draft, the Bulls acquired two high school players, one of which was the next Shaquille O’Neal and the other who was going to be the second coming of Kevin Garnett. Thanks to Jerry Krause’s maneuvering, the Bulls’ frontcourt was going to be set for years to come. It might take some time for Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler to develop, but it’d be worth it. These two were going to be superstars.

Then reality happened. Eddy Curry got super fat, developed a life-threatening heart condition that couldn’t be insured and just stopped even pretending to try to be in shape. Meanwhile, people soon realized that Tyson Chandler’s offensive game consisted entirely of dunking or running at the basket and haphazardly throwing the ball at the rim. The Baby Bulls were over as soon as they started.

Eventually, Tyson Chandler became a legit NBA center, spurred on by his development while playing alongside Chris Paul. He learned to play with in himself, become a defensive stopper and helped lead the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA championship. And because he grew up and turned in to a real NBA player, he thinks the same can be true for his one-time draftmate. From TrueHoop:

From your perspective, what happened to Eddy?

It’s unfortunate. I still think Eddy should be a top three big guy in this league. Easily. With his physical advantage, his size and his touch and his athletic ability for being that big … it’s something that we lack in this league right now. Not a lot of big guys out here. He should be at the top of his game. He should be an impact player. I felt bad for him in New York. I felt like he never really got a shot. I don’t know what went on there, so I can’t take sides, but I definitely felt bad for him. I felt like if he had an opportunity to change things around, to show people that he was valuable … I hope that opportunity comes around for him.

You know, he is right. Eddy Curry probably should be a top three big guy in this league. He was huge, he was super athletic for being so huge (backflips anyone?) and he had good enough moves and touch around the basket that he led the NBA in shooting percentage during his second season in the league. There was a reason he was going to be the next Shaq.

But on the other hand, he was Eddy Curry. 10 years removed from the 2001 Draft, it’s almost impossible to even imagine a world where Eddy Curry was going to be one of the best players in the NBA. The guy got injured in three straight training camps and was somehow lapped in a going-through-cones drill last summer. Eddy Curry’s so bad the Timberwolves paid him millions of dollars to not play for them, and they won 17 games last season.

No matter his physical advantages, Eddy Curry will always be Eddy Curry, which is his main stumbling block towards becoming an NBA player. Other than that, totally agree with Tyson Chandler here.

Comments (2)

  1. “Eddy Curry will always be Eddy Curry, which is his main stumbling block towards becoming an NBA player.” You’re looking at Eddy Curry in an unfortunately limited perspective, and assigning him too much blame. He’s not “so bad,” just so out of shape. Yes, Curry was irresponsible in several ways and on several occasions, but I think you have to look at a few other circumstances that doomed his NBA future.
    First, he didn’t play in college, which cost him the opportunity to develop his talent and perhaps learn some discipline. Second, in his first 8 years in the NBA, he had seven different head coaches. Coaching consistency is vital to a young player’s development — especially one coming out of high school. Several mid-season and off-season changes must have had a damaging impact on Curry. The desire was that those early Bulls teams would win, not improve, which explains why those coaches kept getting fired (after MJ, fans couldn’t bear to see their team miss the playoffs, even if it was the youngest team in the league). The last of those seven coaches was Mike D’Antoni. Curry showed up out of shape in D’Antoni’s first off season, but he never would have fit into that offense. Compare him to Chris Kaman, for example, another high draft pick center whose first seven years were under the same coach (yes, Mike Dunleavy)…ending in a 20-10 season and an All-Star appearance.
    Lastly, Curry suffered from an irregular heartbeat; it sounds here like that was his fault. It might be, but Cuttino Mobley caught the same ailment, and he was one of the best conditioned players in the Association. And when Curry was already fading in 2009, his ex-girlfriend and daughter were murdered (1st degree), and we haven’t really heard from him since.
    I’m not saying that none of his professional failures are Curry’s fault. On the contrary, most of them are. His commitment to the game and to his team wasn’t always there. But I also think his career could have been different had be been put in different circumstances. He did play a full season once, averaging 19 and 7. (Then Isaiah Thomas stuck him with Zach Randolph and he was never the same.) He wasn’t a motivated player, but he didn’t get any help, either – I think that might better describe Curry’s tragic career arc than his name.

  2. [...] Why wouldn’t he do this any time over the past three seasons? Who knows. Maybe it’s like Tyson Chandler said, and he just needs the right opportunity. But even then, don’t you think the past four years [...]

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