Originally created 07/24/01

Augustan brings NBA experience home



Michael Curry knows all about going the extra mile. The former Glenn Hills basketball standout had to take the long route before reaching the NBA.

So when the 11-year pro gets a chance to teach the importance of perseverance, he doesn't hesitate. The Michael Curry Basketball Camp started Monday and will continue through Friday at Richmond Academy and John S. Davidson Fine Arts School.

Curry, now in his third year of a five-year contract with the Detroit Pistons, was voted president of the National Basketball Players Association two weeks ago after serving two years as vice president under Patrick Ewing.

"I started as a players rep when I got in the league and have been involved ever since," Curry said. "That's what made the guys nominate me. It was a unanimous vote."

Curry remembers when life on the basketball court wasn't so stable. After a stellar four-year career with Georgia Southern (1986-90), the small forward went undrafted and was forced to make his living overseas in Europe.

He spent four years abroad before he landed with the Philadelphia 76ers for the second half of the 1993-94 season.

After he wasn't re-signed, he served more overseas stints. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder played in Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany and France before returning to the United States to play in the CBA.

"I played so many places, it'd probably take up a whole sheet of paper to count them," he said.

Curry finally made his way to the NBA for good when he signed a 10-day contract with the Washington Bullets a year after his run with the Sixers. The Pistons signed him for 10 more days immediately after his 10 days with Washington.

He spent the next year with the Pistons before signing with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent two seasons. Curry found himself back in Detroit two years ago.

He wrapped up his seventh year in the NBA last season. And though Curry relishes his place in the NBA, he doesn't see himself as a star. When Grant Hill left the Pistons for Orlando, Fla., last season, Curry was forced into the starting lineup and averaged 5.2 points per game.

"That wasn't natural for me," he said. "I'm a backup player. That's my role. I give the second unit a lift, play solid defense and hit big shots. That's been the key to my longevity."

With UNC Charlotte draftee Rodney White stepping in, Curry feels assured he'll find his way back to the second team.

"I should get to go back to my natural position," said Curry, who has the ability to play both the off guard and small forward positions.

Eighty campers between the ages of 7 and 17 did their best Michael Curry imitations Monday. The camp begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m.

Curry started working summer camps for Gerald White in 1987. The two area standouts recently teamed up to create Augusta Sports In Action, which produces the Michael Curry and Gerald White camps.

This will be the final year of the separate camps. The two will combine next summer to create a larger, more focused week for campers.

"It should be even better that way," Curry said. "We've been working together for the kids a long time now. But it's time to see what we can do to make it better. We want this to be a great week for the campers."

Along with drills, games and instruction, campers got a chance to visit with Philadelphia 76ers guard Eric Snow on Monday. The 6-3 guard, who averaged 12.6 points per game in the NBA Finals last season against the Los Angeles Lakers, spoke about setting goals.

"This is what the summer is about, giving up yourself a little," Snow said. "I don't really get into the whole 'being seen' thing, but I like to get out and teach the kids. I've known Michael a long time. I couldn't say no."

Today's speaker will be center Theo Ratliff, whom Philadelphia traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Dikembe Mutumbo. Former Westside High and Connecticut Huskies standout Ricky Moore will be Wednesday's guest.

"Bring your kids, we'll work something out," said Curry, who will leave Wednesday for a NBPA meeting in Asia. "We'll be accepting kids all week, anyone who wants to learn a little of what we know."

Reach Patrick Green at (706) 823-3221.