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Michael Curry: Beyond Hoop Dreams

At 6-feet, 5-inches, Michael Curry of the National Basketball Assn.'s Toronto Raptors is hardly the biggest man on the basketball court. But at his second job as a teacher of a sports-business seminar at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), he's pretty hard to miss. And he sure has the background for teaching this course: Curry, a forward who has played in more than 600 NBA games, is currently deep into the latest round of labor negotiations as president of the National Basketball Players Assn.

Curry had a previous association with VCU, having earned a master's in sports leadership from it in 2002, flying back for some classes and completing the rest of the work through distance learning. While Curry was in Las Vegas for round one of the union negotiatons, BusinessWeek B-Schools Intern Erin Chambers talked with him about his latest role as an educator. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow:

Q. You've got a solid NBA career, a gig as head of the NBA Players Assn., and a master's degree. Why take on the role of teacher now?

A: I'm all for education and really enjoy being involved with the Sports Center [for Sports Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth]. I'm serious about this. I already assigned those guys homework even before the first day. I told each one of them to e-mail me with 10 questions about professional sports. And they had a lot of questions.

Q. What do you plan to cover in the class?

A: We're going to go over all types of issues throughout different sports. Things like drafting, negotiation, dealing with elite athletes and personalities. Grad school is a good place for discussion. A lot of discussion is a way of circulating knowledge among young people.

Q. Will any of your NBA buddies be coming in as guest speakers?

A: When I sent out inquiries about guest speaking, I was surprised at how many people responded and wanted to do it. We're having coaches from VCU, [and former players] Johnny Newman, [union executive director] Billy Hunter. [Orlando Magic player] Grant Hill wants to come, [ESPN commentator] Steven A. Smith, maybe a few agents in there, too.

Q. Do you see yourself in a management position in the NBA someday

A: There's more basketball for sure. I've got two more good years on the court for sure. And getting a PhD is something I've always wanted on a personal level, kind of a personal goal of mine. I would love to continue to educate myself. A management job is interesting to me too. I'm just going to prepare the best way that I can and wait until I'm finished with basketball to move on to the next thing.

Q. What motivates you to accomplish these goals?

A: I'm a driven person. I stay busy and keep a lot of things scheduled. It helps, also, that most of the things I do involve my family being around me. My son is at basketball camp at Virginia Commonwealth when I'm teaching the class. My wife and kids can come to union conferences with me because we make it into a vacation. I do a lot, but try to incorporate the things I'm doing into family outings.

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