Former NBA Player Earl Cureton on Giving Back With the Detroit Pistons

The basketball team’s first three-on-three tournament inspires community activities
Earl Cureton
Earl Cureton speaks with local youth. // Photograph courtesy of Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons will hold their first three-on-three basketball tournament on July 13. Taking place in and around Little Caesars Arena, the day-long tournament will give nearly 1,000 metro Detroit basketball players the chance to compete for a three-on-three championship title. But the fun doesn’t start there. Prior the tournament, the Pistons are giving back to locals with a few activities. Today, the team hosted a Basketball for All community day, during which participants cleaned and beautified Rouge Park with the Detroit Pistons and Rock Ventures employees. They also held a free basketball clinic for neighborhood youths. And, on July 12, a registration rally will take place for the tournament at Campus Martius and feature public free throw and three-point shooting contests, the StockX Hall of Fake — an exhibition comprised of the most convincing fakes the company’s authenticators have encountered — live DJ’s, and giveaways.

Prior to the events, Hour Detroit spoke with Earl Cureton, who is a former Detroit Pistons player, two-time NBA champion, and the team’s ambassador to the community. Here, he shares details about this weekend’s activities and how the team is making a difference locally.

Hour Detroit: Can you tell us tell us a bit about the events taking place over the next few days?

Earl Cureton: We’re kicking it off Thursday, the 11th, at Rouge Park. We have 100 employees going out to beautify the area. We’ll be doing park benches, planting trees, and clearing up the whole area for the community. One of the courts we put in as part of our Basketball for All program is at Rouge Park, so we’ll also have a clinic out there and some of our former players will be there. The following day we’ll have registration. Then, the 13th will be a huge day. We were shooting to get 200 teams for the tournament, and we exceeded that. We have every division you can imagine, including men, women, girls, boys, and wheelchair.

How are you personally involved in the events?

I’ll be hands-on with just about everything, from contributing to the beautification efforts, to helping put teams into the three-on-three, to mingling with our youths. I grew up on the east side of Detroit, so this is a way for me to give back. I can pass my story along to all the kids in the community and tell them the importance of not just basketball, but the importance of life and education. I know what it meant to me as a kid to be able to see [former Pistons player] Bob Lanier come into my community and put on clinics in the parking lot. For me, it’s really special to get an opportunity to do that.

There are a lot of ways to become involved in the community. Why did the Detroit Pistons choose these specific initiatives?

Cleaning and beautifying the neighborhoods is important because you can create a whole change in attitude. When you’re in an environment that looks good, it makes you feel good. We want to get it started bit also show the communities so they can take care of the areas they’re in.

This is meant to become an annual event. What effect do you hope this will have on the community over time?

We want to be involved in the community, and we want to get the kids doing more positive things in the community. We want to give youths something to do when they’re out of school. I think when you’re in these types of environments, it can keep you out of trouble. Being involved and having the right mentors around can cut back on a lot of the negative things that happen in Detroit. Even from a fitness standpoint, we’ve got a lot of obesity right now, because kids don’t get out and play or exercise. We hope these events will be impactful to youths from a health standpoint as well as a mentoring standpoint.

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