Antelope Valley Press

Earl ‘The Twirl’ Cureton, who won two NBA championsh­ips, dies


DETROIT (AP) — Earl “The Twirl” Cureton, who won two NBA championsh­ips in 12 seasons in the league, has died. He was 66.

Cureton, who served as a community ambassador for the Detroit Pistons for the last 10 years, passed away “unexpected­ly” on Sunday morning, according to a release from the Pistons. No other informatio­n was provided by the team.

“Earl was one of the most generous, positive and caring people I knew,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said. “He was a loving father, devoted to his family, and I was honored to be his friend. He was a champion as a player and an important ambassador in our community. We are heartbroke­n over his loss.”

The 6-foot-9 Cureton began his collegiate career with Robert Morris before transferri­ng to Detroit Mercy for his final two seasons under then-coach Dick Vitale. The Detroit native was selected by Philadelph­ia in the third round of the 1979 NBA draft.

Cureton averaged 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 674 NBA games. He played for Philly, Detroit, Chicago, the Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte, Houston and Toronto. He was part of championsh­ip teams with the 1982-83 76ers and 93-94 Rockets.

He also coached in the NBA, United States Basketball League and Continenta­l Basketball Associatio­n after his playing career.

“He was a tremendous teammate, tough competitor, a champion and a great human being,” former Pistons guard Isiah Thomas said in the team’s release. “Earl always held the Detroit community close to his heart and worked tirelessly to make a difference for the city he loved. He will be greatly missed.”

Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups took the news of his former teammate’s death hard.

“He was just a beautiful dude,” Billups said before the Trail Blazers’ game in Denver on Sunday night. “I spent a lot of time with him in Detroit, obviously. Just a big teddy bear. Always so fun. He had one of those infectious laughs where whenever he laughed he made everybody laugh. Never had a bad day, ever. I marvel at guys like that, people like that. The world can be really rough and tough and they never see it that way, you know? And I loved that about him. Every time I’d go to Detroit, I’d give him a big hug. So, that was tough news today.”

 ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Earl Cureton, Detroit Pistons ambassador to the community, attends an NBA game on Feb. 2, 2020, in Detroit.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Earl Cureton, Detroit Pistons ambassador to the community, attends an NBA game on Feb. 2, 2020, in Detroit.

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