2January 5, 2010. TD Garden de Boston. The Celtics receive the Clippers. In the local ranks, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen… By visitors, Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman … and JamesOn Curry, a 1.90-meter point guard who had arrived 72 hours ago on a 10-day contract. With 3.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the coach Mike Dunleavy he claims. He’s going to make his NBA debut. And, without knowing it then, also history.
Because after playing those 3.9 seconds in which he could not touch the ball, Curry will not play in the NBA again. It is the shortest career ever seen in the best league in the world. “It was the fastest four seconds ever,” he said recently. Of that day he does not keep his shirt or shoes. Just the memory. The day after his debut, the Clippers fired him so they could sign Bobby Brown. Despite his attempts to return to the best competition in the world, he never could. Quality was not lacking to have made a career, but altercations off the track made it impossible for him.
JamesOn, named for his father (James) and a relative (Leon), came to average 40.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists at Eastern Alamance High School in Mebane, in his native North Carolina. By then he had long been committed to the State University, mythical Tar Heels. In a game of his last year of high school, before a pavilion to burst, he scored 47 points with which he broke the state historical record: 3,302 points. More than David Thompson, James Worthy … and Michael Jordan!
If you think about it, he’s probably the highest paid player per second in NBA history.
The next morning, while in art class, he was called from the principal’s office. Sheriff’s deputies were waiting for him. “I thought they would come to ask me for my autographs,” he says now. They arrested him inside an anti-drug operation. He had sold marijuana to an undercover cop. Thus began a series of crimes and convictions: he pleaded guilty, was released on probation, and had to work 200 hours in community services. It was expelled from the team and, what was worse, the University of North Carolina took away the scholarship.
Curry went to Oklahoma State, where he had three notable years. In the third and last he had averages of 17.3 points and 3.7 assists. Against the advice of those around him, he appeared in the draft in 2007. The Bulls picked him 51st and sent him to the Development League.. Playing there he got into trouble again. The police saw him urinating in the street. He ran and they stopped him. They charged him with two minor offenses. But that weighed less than missing a flight to New York because he got lost with the car for Chicago. He was close to the Bulls granting him the opportunity to make his NBA debut. They cut him off in the summer. “Not being able to get on that plane ruined everything,” he laments.
The NBA debut came
In 2008 he played some games in the Pau Orthez French, where it didn’t last long. He went to Cyprus before returning to G League to enroll in the Springfield Armor de Massachusetts. Playing there, that’s when the Clippers signed him and made him debut in the NBA. “I wish it had lasted longer. In that game, I felt like a normal person, I felt like a normal basketball player. I felt at home, as if that was the place where I belonged,” he says.
Two years at a good level and one experience in Italy they didn’t make the NBA remember him. Curry didn’t make it easy either. In October 2014, at the age of 28, and having already played what would have been the last game of his career, They arrested him again for carrying marijuana and also a pistol. He also gave a false name when he was arrested. He had to spend 10 weekends working in jail and doing more hours of social work. Trying to start a new life, she decided to leave her home in Oklahoma to move to North Carolina. There, while was training to have a new chance in basketball, suffered a serious traffic accident in which he almost died. He suffered rib and back injuries. They placed him two bars parallel to the column. Game over.
I wish it had lasted longer. In that game, I felt at home, as if that was the place where James belonged.
I return to Oklahoma, where worked in a dog food factory and as a deliveryman. He volunteered as a coach on a student team. They looked at his record. They did not accept him. “He was a criminal with six or seven crimes. He was a black guy with tattoos all over his body,” he justifies. He took a job as a truck driver and, for once, luck smiled on him. His boss was a fan of Oklahoma State. He proposed to lead a cros team and do private training with his son. More parents leave theirs in his hands to teach them. “I like to build, plant these seeds. I have stability and I think I can do this for a long time,” he says.
And of the NBA, what is left? “I really could have played. I know I could,” he assures as neither would he have. JamesOn Curry had 3.9 seconds of glory. Yes, scarce, but very few people can say that they ever played in the best league in the world. “And if you think about it, he’s probably the highest paid player per second in NBA history,” he jokes.