In the words of Earl “The Twirl” Cureton himself, January 23rd will be a very special night.
At 7 p.m. that night, the University of Detroit Mercy (U of D) will face IUPUI at Calihan Hall. While on paper, this is just another game. However, the halftime will showcase that this night is so much more. That is when U of D will retire Cureton’s jersey in a special ceremony; something that he has dreamt of for quite some time.
“It’s incredible”, said Cureton. “When you’re a kid, you dream about something like that happening. And the fact it’s going to be at the University of Detroit-Mercy. That’s where I’m at. It’s where I grew up. Along with the fact that it’s going to be with the people that are already up there.” Cureton’s number 24 jersey will hang alongside former U of D Titans Bob Calihan, Dave DeBusschere, Terry Tyler, John Long, Rashad Phillips, NBA Hall of Famer Spencer Haywood, and Terry Duerod.
While Cureton is attempting to get all of his former teammates and notable U of D players in the building, he still has his focus on making sure another group is in attendance as well. Cureton is very passionate about serving the community of Detroit, especially working with the youth in the inner city. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s working with the local PAL organizations to make sure some of the kids that he service will be in attendance also. Around his retirement celebration, he’s aiming to have a “community youth night”. It would include activities and entertainment geared toward the youth while allowing them to come to the game vs. IUPUI for free to celebrate his achievement.
“I do a lot of stuff in the community so I thought it would be great to get all the kids in there”, said Cureton. “So I’m going around to a lot of organizations to offer them the opportunity to come down there that night.”
During his time at U of D, Cureton’s per-game averages were 15.7 points and 9 rebounds on 52% shooting. As a Titan, he points to his game against St. Bonaventure (which was in his first year at U of D) as one of his most memorable moments. That was when he scored 32 points and grabbed 23 rebounds.
The Detroit native who attended and graduated from Finney High School has athletic accomplishments that extend beyond U of D. Cureton was drafted by Philadelphia 76ers with the 58th pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. He’s also a two-time NBA Champion with a career spanning 12 seasons, including a stint with the Detroit Pistons. Additionally, Cureton spent five seasons as a WNBA assistant coach with the Phoenix Mercury (2012-13), Charlotte Sting (2005-06) and Detroit Shock (2009).