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Earl Cureton has jersey retired by UD Mercy

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published January 24, 2020

 Earl Cureton dunks the ball during his time at the University of Detroit Mercy. Cureton was a force for the Titans before making a name for himself in the NBA.

Earl Cureton dunks the ball during his time at the University of Detroit Mercy. Cureton was a force for the Titans before making a name for himself in the NBA.

Photo provided by University of Detroit Mercy athletics

DETROIT — Earl “The Twirl” Cureton has been to the NCAA tournament, won a couple of NBA championships and can now add having his jersey retired to that list.

The University of Detroit Mercy was set to retire Cureton’s jersey at halftime of its game Jan. 23 against IUPUI.

“This is a long time coming to honor Earl with this great moment of appreciation for everything he has done as a Titan, as a professional and, more importantly, as a great member of the community,” UD Mercy Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels Jr. said in a prepared statement.

For Cureton, it’s been a dream come true.

“As a kid, you dream about your jersey being retired somewhere one day,” Cureton said. “I won a couple NBA championships, but to have my jersey hanging up in my college right here in Detroit is special.”

Cureton grew up in Detroit and attended Detroit Finney. After high school, his college playing career began at Robert Morris University.

He transferred to U-D and played two years with the Titans (1978-79 and 1979-80). The forward helped guide the Titans to the NCAA tournament in his first season and then saw his career blossom as a senior.

In his final year, Cureton averaged 20 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, which all led the team.

After his college playing days were over, Cureton was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. During his pro playing career, he won two NBA championships.

The first came with the 76ers in 1983, while the second came in 1994 with the Houston Rockets. Even with those two NBA titles, Cureton said having his jersey retired in his home city ranks up there with his top accomplishments.

“As you get older, any accolades that you can get, it’s great,” Cureton said. “That’s one thing that I didn’t have. I was fortunate enough to win a couple world championships, but to get my number put up, it kind of put icing on the cake for everything.”

Now that his playing career is over, Cureton has stepped into the media world and currently serves as an analyst for Titans basketball games, while also being the community ambassador for his hometown Detroit Pistons. Cureton played for the Pistons from 1983 to 1986.

Cureton returned to UD Mercy in 2011 to gain his degree as a way to honor his mother and to fulfill a promise he made to her to graduate from college.

“Growing up in this area, I kind of know what the struggle is like for a lot of kids in the innercity,” Cureton said. “Working for the Detroit Pistons and having a chance to be back downtown now to do something like this is great for me. I enjoy everything I do each and every day.”