Get to know Edniesha Curry: Oregon alum returns on Billups' coaching staff

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Get to know Edniesha Curry: Oregon alum returns on Billups' coaching staff originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Chauncey Billups' coaching staff has been coming to form the last few weeks. The latest addition to his staff will be Edniesha Curry.

Per a report by Jason Quick of the Athletic, Curry joins the Blazers after a six-year stint on the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the University of Maine as an assistant.

Her basketball pedigree including her coaching experience is strong; having played D1 at Cal State Northridge and ending her collegiate career at Oregon. After college, she was able to play in the WNBA for two seasons and overseas for eight.

“Anytime you get a chance to do what you love all over the world in front of home fans in the states, it’s amazing,” Curry said on the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast in February. “Your first dream is to get a scholarship and you're part of that elite class and then you work and have the support of college coaches and family to reach that next elite level, it was nothing but a blessing. I’m so grateful for that experience.”

She truly loves the game of basketball and discovered her interest in the game early in life. Growing up in California during the 1980’s the main attraction there and around the NBA was the ‘Showtime Lakers.’ More specifically it was to watch a show Magic Johnson would conduct with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, James Worthy, and many more.

Watching that era of Lakers basketball led by Johnson sparked Curry’s interest in the game.

“It was a random game just watching the Lakers,” she said. “I was watching Magic Johnson during the mid-’80s and he did that weird no-look pass. I was like, ‘wow, this is really cool.’ I just remember seeing the crowd and I was always in love with Magic’s smile. He just had an awesome smile when he played the game. I was like, ‘I wanna watch him all the time.’ That was kind of the first time I fell in love with basketball. I don’t know if I necessarily fell in love with basketball or Magic Johnson.

Of course, during that time Johnson’s game was the attraction for most and his look was the attraction for a few. Curry took a liking to his physical features as well as his passing ability, and like many around the world, became inspired by him.

Just watching him as a kid propelled her craft, her game, and parlayed it into a free college education, a 10-year pro career, and now a coaching career.

Although the coaching part took some time for her to accept.

Initially, she wanted to be all about the community and found an interest in volunteering during her off time. More so, the summers between academic years, but because of the persistence of a former coach she found a way to have an effect on others.

“I did not want to coach at all. I still to this day I think I got tricked into my purpose and passion in my life by my former college coach Michael Abraham,” she said.

She kept trying to escape the industry but it kept finding her at every corner she turned. When Curry went corporate and worked at Adidas, she realized the office life wasn’t her calling.

As she kept searching for what her calling was, Abraham stayed persistent and lured her into coaching. From then she attempted to mimic him from his practice plans to mannerisms and style.

Abraham’s persistence and Curry’s openness have helped lead her to stay within the game she loves from coaching at the D1 level to now in the NBA. All because of some lightful nudging and Curry not ignoring the blatant signs life was showing her.

Although she’s in the industry coaching, Curry realizes she’s a black woman before anything else. 

It’s no secret basketball coaches are mostly white men coaching black players and black coaches aren’t given the same shake as their white counterparts. Curry realizes that and is upfront on that challenge.

“We’re getting jobs that take time to turn around,” she said. “They’re losing programs and losing cultures and that’s unfair.”

In the NBA, the bottom five teams from the 2020-’21 regular-season were black coaches. Stephen Silas, Houston Rockets; J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers; and Dwane Casey, Detroit Pistons. The Orlando Magic, who are going through a full rebuild, just hired Jamahl Mosley.

Black coaches are pinned to rebuild a team only to get fired and likely have a white counterpart elevate the team once a star player arrives. It’s a blatant cycle that’s always existed but has more light now.

Curry is joining Billups’ team which is at a crossroads. The Blazers aren’t winning a title anytime soon unless there are major roster changes. Although, the team could be heading for a rebuild if Damian Lillard decides to go elsewhere.

Either way, black coaches can be in tough situations, and Curry isn’t oblivious to it.