Eddy Curry Heads to China

According to Hoopsworld.com, Eddy Curry is headed to China:

Eddy Curry has signed with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to sources close to the situation. Curry’s flight to China left this evening and he will play with Zhejiang for the remainder of the CBA season. When he returns from China, he’ll be a playoff-eligible and will try to sign with an NBA team.

Brian DiMenna

It’s a testament to just how much talent Eddy Curry has, that even amid all the injuries, all the tragedy, all the punchlines and fat jokes that have plagued him over the past few years, it’s taken this long for him to finally find his way out of the NBA.

Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry will both play their basketball in China this season, a fitting end to two staples of one of the more disappointing rosters in Knicks history.

And yet, I find guys like Curry oddly fascinating because I wonder how he views his own career. It was only five years ago that Eddy Curry was the starting center for the New York Knicks, playing 81 games and averaging 19.5 points per game. Even then, he was a lackadaisical defender — the term almost feels invented for Curry — and an underwhelming rebounder, but there was also no denying that when he wanted to be, Curry could be a dominant offensive force.

It’s hard to really imagine being as massive as Eddy, and it always seemed something he wasn’t that comfortable with. It’s a feeling I can empathize with. Sure, it’s nice to stand out, but maybe less so when it’s because “OH MY GOD, look at the SIZE of that guy!” It’s not that much of a stretch to say there’s probably a handful of humans in the history of earth who possess the kind of ability that Eddy Curry has. His mixture of size and skill is really that rare, so it’s hard to not think of his career as a failure, as something worthy of our derision. But I wonder if he does.

As hard as it may be to imagine, Curry will depart having played at least a game in ten seasons in the NBA — a pretty lengthy career by any standard — leaving behind respectable career averages of 12.9 points and 5.2 boards. Though who knows how much of it he has left, Curry has earned over $70 million during this span. By any reasonable measure, this is a wildly successful human being.

But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? Curry strikes us as someone who’s achieved a small fraction of what might have been possible. His legacy is the absolute bare minimum.

There’s always something tragic about that, or at least we seem to think so, but more so in sports than any other walks of life. We don’t chastise successful investors for not being Warren Buffett, or talk about a millionaire real estate developer for “what might have been.” But in sports, a guy like Curry feels like a disaster. All we can see is all that potential that went unrealized, all that tangible ability not put to its best use.

Obviously, as Knicks fans, we can’t be expected to view Eddy as anything other than an epic failure, as one of a series of massive investments with minimal return, and as a guy who came to represent every terrible Knicks boondoggle over the last decade.

But I wonder if it bothers Curry at all. I suspect it does on some level, that he must know this wasn’t his absolute best, but maybe he’s fine with it. Maybe he holds himself to the regular human definition of success, the kind where a ten-year NBA career, and $70 million in lifetime earnings can’t be dismissed as talent wasted, and where what might have been is only marginally better than what actually was.

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