Earl Cureton and Jake UittiAug 16, 2023
Earl the Twirl
My Life in Basketball
Today I talked to Earl Careton about his new book (co-authored with Jake Uitti), Earl the Twirl: My Life in Basketball (McFarland, 2023)
Earl "The Twirl" Cureton was never a star player in the NBA, but then again, few people will ever be a celebrity athlete. Earl's story, instead, is about a life on the fringes of the league during its "Golden Era" of the '80s and '90s. A teammate of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley, Muggsy Bogues, Hakeem Olajuwon, and more, Earl was a part of seven NBA teams in his twelve-season career. He won two championships during his career, first in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers, and then in 1994 with the Houston Rockets. And yet, as a professional basketball journeyman, every day was a struggle.
Growing up in Detroit during race riots, Earl worked hard and became a standout player at the University of Detroit. A 6' 9" center in the pros, Earl battled with Karem Abdul-Jabbar in back-to-back NBA Finals. While many know the stories of big names like Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, few understand the life of a player on the outskirts of the league. This is Earl's own story, a unique perspective on the trials of a journeyman player: non-guaranteed contracts, tryouts and cuts, playing overseas, coming back from injury, and the looming "right of first refusal."
Paul Knepper covered the New York Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in 2020. You can reach Paul at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep.