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Old 01-16-2007, 02:04 PM   #1
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Default Has Eddy Curry Followed The Yellow Brick Road - article

Has Eddy Curry Followed The Yellow Brick Road?

Has Eddy Curry Followed the Yellow Brick Road?
By Donald Christopher

If you are wondering what all the excitement is about at Madison Square Garden lately, you could do worse than to look at Eddy Curry's improved stats for the month of December. The numbers being produced by the 24 year old New York Knick center have been nothing short of impressive. Due to such applauded production, he now averages almost 19 points and a little over 7 rebounds per game. Not to mention he's among the league leaders in field goal percentage at .574. These are the sort of numbers that were constantly seen during the Patrick Ewing and even Marcus Camby era, yet these numbers that have been noticeably missing ever since.

Eddy Curry is beginning to emerge as a force for the Knicks.
Now comes a potential-filled player in Curry who has finally began to produce in the manner that Knick fans looked forward to from the very moment he arrived in New York. And for a building filled with expensive ticket buyers then accustomed to, but now longing for a big man to put up big man numbers, it's quite easy to understand why there are plenty of cheers and high-fives in the air. Curry is even beginning to receive mention as a potential NBA All-Star.

Until proven otherwise, you will never find a Knick fan who believes the team can succeed without an outstanding frontcourt player. One who commands a double-team, because when there has been such a player, success has always followed. During its unexcused absence, eager fans were left to mercifully gather alongside the yellow brick road patiently awaiting a favor from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Curry, an often-lackadaisical player whose heart has been the subject of many discussions, has now began to show signs of life and apparently, the courage needed to consistently lead his team as expected when Knicks President Isiah Thomas acquired the bulky 6' 11", 275 pound center from the Chicago Bulls in a trade last season. Although his numbers from a year ago were respectable, the consensus amongst everyone was those numbers being similar to the "finding of the glove," with the best yet to come.

Although the Knicks sport a roster filled with a fair share of young and talented players, it's Curry who has been annointed as the one player with the physical gifts to emerge as the franchise player many draft experts expected when he was the fourth overall player taken in the 2001 NBA Draft. Not that he was considered a bust in Chicago -- he showed promise on occasions, but for the most part, his learning process seemed to be largely stagnant due to what some perceived as a lack of passion. Occasionally, he played the game with a great sense of purpose, but for a high school player making the compelling jump to pro, it seemed to have taken the sometimes overweight Curry longer to adjust than others. Bulls coach Scott Skiles grew weary and frustrated at the lack of interest shown by his prized center. At one point, when asked by a reporter what Curry needed to do to improve his rebounding, Skiles replied sarcastically, "Jump."

In his final season with the Bulls, Curry averaged a careeer-high 16.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game in 63 games before an irregular heartbeat on March 30 sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Later, after refusing to submit to Predictive DNA Testing, as requested by Bulls management to assess whether he has a congenital heart condition, he was traded to the Knicks. Curry felt the test violated his privacy. He left Chicago holding career averages of 11.8 ppg and 4.9 rpg in 23.1 mpg, while shooting .529 from the floor and .671 from the free throw line.

I am not alone in my contempt for the Eddy Curry who plays the game of basketball as if he cannot wait for the season to end. Or as if he wonders whether he remembered to order the hand-tossed or the stuffed crust. Such uninspired play promotes feelings of labeling the enormously talented player simply as nothing more than a "bread eater." For a player with all the size and talent in the world needed to become a perennial NBA All-Star, he's been known for being wildly inconsistent while seemingly lacking spunk. A fact which drove many observers to openly question if the overly tattooed center had any heart. Well, his numbers of late seem to indicate that perhaps Curry has "eased on down the road." Always talented, he now plays the game as if there is, in fact, an animating force within.

So has Eddy Curry followed the Yellow Brick Road?

Considering his pre-NBA career consists of being named Parade Magazine's High School Player of the Year, Illinois' Mr. Basketball, and MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American game, it could very well be argued that the kid from Thornwood High School in Chicago, Illinois has always displayed heart. Then again, while growing up, Curry was so much bigger and stronger than most kids his age. That, of which, is hardly the case in the NBA. It has been said that the game of basketball is only 10% physical with the other 90% being mental. Perhaps after always being accustomed to a certain size advantage over his defender, he was confronted with the realization that the frontcount players he is now paired against are just as big and strong as him. And without the most vital organ, having all the size in the world doesn't make a difference.

This past summer, Curry worked under the tutelage of assistant coach Mark Aguirre who was a load himself on the low blocks during his illustrious NBA career. The results of which are now being witnessed.

While his numbers of late speak volumes, it still remains to be seen whether or not Curry has truly arrived and stands ready to place his stamp upon Knick fans who are eager to be signed, sealed and delivered. But the Curry-of-late has played in a way like never before; consistently leading his team in scoring, crashing the boards, and even blocking a few shots. Although improvements in his defense and shotblocking are desperately needed if he is to truly establish himself as not only the team's best player, but one of the league's best, he certainly has made welcomed strides towards simply giving fans reasons to believe that he can become the premiere go-to guy the team desperately needs. And who knows, he may even become the "next Greg Oden."

"When you combine hard work with talent, it pays off. The thing that I love that is happening with him is that it is not his contract year, so what you are seeing is real stuff." said head coach Thomas.

Lately, while watching Curry, I can now sense a heartbeat. In short, his presence on the court has been nothing short of dominant. The kind of frontcourt performances synomonous with the New York Knicks and Emerald, Madison Square Garden.

Click your heels three times Knick fans...because truly, "There's no place like home."

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