Curry returns after losing 100 pounds

The New York Knicks' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 17, 2009, wasn't a memorable one for the franchise in another lost season. But for Eddy Curry it holds significance.

It was the last time he played in an NBA game until Thursday.

Curry had been sidelined for more than two years with weight and conditioning problems that, at their worst, pushed the 6-foot-10 center to close to 400 pounds. Now with the Miami Heat and weighing a "svelte" 295, Curry made his long-awaited return to the court in Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. He totaled six points and three rebounds in six minutes.

"It was humbling, I guess, sitting back not playing, wanting to be there for one reason or another and not being able to be out there," Curry said recently. "I look at it as a second chance and an opportunity to right this ship."

Curry showed signs of living up to his potential as the No. 4 overall pick of the 2001 draft, averaging 19.5 points and seven rebounds for the Knicks in 81 games during the 2006-07 season. As his weight increased, his production – and minutes – dropped. He's appeared in just 10 games the past four seasons, including none last season. The Minnesota Timberwolves waived Curry after acquiring him in the three-team Carmelo Anthony trade.

[Related: Dwyane Wade drops five pounds every game, eats chlorophyll]

In desperate need of help to resume his career, Curry returned to his hometown of Chicago to work with trainer Tim Grover. The Heat became intrigued last March and brought Curry to Miami for a workout, but he still weighed close to 350. After the lockout ended, he signed a one-year, veteran's minimum deal paying him $1.3 million for this season.

Curry began training camp weighing around 330 pounds. A hip injury delayed his debut even further, but he was able to lose another 35 pounds. Now 29, Curry said he's in his best shape since he was drafted.

"I worked hard this offseason," Curry said. "I got hurt in training camp, but I guess it was a blessing in disguise because I got to get with the strength-and-conditioning staff and medical staff and really get right. I'm feeling good. This is the lightest I've been in a long, long time."

The Heat have a well-rounded roster, but they are lacking a space-eating center. Joel Anthony is undersized at 6-9 and 245 pounds. Dexter Pittman and rookie Michael Gladness are unproven. Curry could give the Heat some needed size – provided he can stay in shape and stay on the court.

[Related: Kendrick Perkins shed 32 pounds during the lockout]

"I just want to see him healthy," Dwyane Wade said. "He's a very talented guy. When healthy, there are not many people that can do what he can do. He's been doing a good job with our staff of working his tail off to give himself a shot to get on the floor. We're excited about the opportunity."

Curry isn't spending much time dwelling on his lost seasons. He's focusing only on the future and is confident he can still revive his career.

"Afterwards, if everything goes how I want it to go and how we want it to go, maybe I'll look back and say, 'Wow, that was pretty crazy,' " he said. "Right now I'm looking at it as, I worked my tail off and I deserve to be out there, and I will be out there and make an impact."

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