Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores mourns the passing of ex-Piston Earl Cureton, 66

February 5, 2024 | Articles News

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores mourns the passing of ex-Piston Earl Cureton, 66

DETROIT, Mich. – Earl Cureton, former Pistons player and community ambassador with the organization for the last 10 years, passed away unexpectedly Sunday morning at the age of 66.

A 12-year NBA veteran, Cureton was originally drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 58th overall
pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. Known as “The Twirl”, the 6-9 forward was a part of two NBA championships teams, the 76ers in 1982-83 and the Houston Rockets in 1993-94.  Cureton also played three seasons with the Detroit Pistons (1983-86, where he averaged 5.9 points in 234 games) and spent time with the Chicago Bulls, LA Clippers, Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors.

“Earl was one of the most generous, positive and caring people I knew,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said
in a released statement. “He was a loving father, devoted to his family, and I was honored to be his
friend. He was a champion as a player and an important ambassador in our community. We are
heartbroken over his loss.”

Cureton made coaching stops in the NBA, United States Basketball League and Continental Basketball
Association following his retirement from the NBA in 1997.  He was also an assistant coach with the
ABA’s Long Beach Jam in 2004, alongside coaching legend Paul Westhead.  When Westhead left to
become an assistant for the Orlando Magic, Cureton took over as head coach and led the Jam to an ABA Championship.

Cureton played collegiately at Division I Robert Morris University before transferring to University of
Detroit Mercy for his final two seasons under head coach Dick Vitale. His number 24 was retired by U of
D on Jan. 23, 2020. Fulfilling a life-long dream 30 years later, Cureton went back to U of D and earned his college degree in Human Services and was awarded his Bachelor of Science in 2011.  A native Detroiter, Cureton prepped at Finney High School.

“The Detroit Pistons organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Earl Cureton, a person who
meant so much to the organization as a colleague, former player, community ambassador and friend. 
As tough a competitor as he was during his playing years on the court, he was equally kind-hearted,
outgoing and impactful off it.  He represented our franchise with great passion and truly enjoyed
working to give back and improve the lives of Detroiters in the city he loved so much.  We extend our
heartfelt condolences to Earl’s family and countless friends and teammates during this most difficult

Former Pistons player and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas said: “All of us are hurting with the unexpected
loss of Earl Cureton.  He was a tremendous teammate, tough competitor, a champion and a great
human being.  Earl always held the Detroit community close to his heart and worked tirelessly to make a difference for the city he loved.  He will be greatly missed.”

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