Skip to main content
Original Issue

Terry Cummings, Forward FEBRUARY 21, 1983

After 18 years of elbows to the chops, former NBA forward Terry
Cummings spent his first year of retirement surrounded by music
production and editing machines in a studio in his San Antonio
house. For weeks at a time in the fall of 2000 he left home only
to buy groceries. Exercise? "Lifting food to my mouth," says
Cummings, who ballooned from 265 pounds to 292. "I wanted to get
basketball out of my system. Writing allowed me to pour out
musically what was emotionally in me. Some good stuff came out."

Cummings, 40, who has been around music (running a publishing
company, playing keyboard, singing, writing and producing) since
he was 21, is currently putting the finishing touches on an
album of "inspirational ballads," a mix of R&B and hip-hop with
jazz, blues and gospel undertones. His company, Cummings
Entertainment Group, has produced music and videos for, among
others, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola and BET, though many of his
projects--including a 1989 Christmas single with David Robinson
and other San Antonio Spurs and a '91 Super Bowl Shuffle-style
video featuring the lyrical stylings of Scottie Pippen--have
been for charity. This latest work is strictly personal. Says
Cummings, "It's a project I feel that I should have done a long
time ago."

There was, however, the little matter of basketball. After
Cummings led his hometown DePaul Blue Demons to a 79-6 record
over three years, the San Diego Clippers made him the second pick
in the 1982 draft. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in '83
after averaging 23.7 points and 10.6 rebounds. Seven teams and
nearly 20,000 points later, shoulder and groin injuries led
Cummings to retirement. Early in his NBA career his cousin, soul
and gospel producer Percy Bady, had inspired him to pursue his
musical interests. Cummings took a keyboard on the road and
learned to read music. He has written more than 500 songs, and
lately he has branched out into screenplays, though he plans to
finish his album before he shops any of them. "I played on the
highest level as an athlete," says Cummings, "and I want every
part of my life to be that way."

Exercise has helped Cummings get back to his playing weight and
enabled him to maintain the travel schedule demanded by his
ministerial work (he became a Pentecostal minister when he was
16) and as a divorced father of three sons (Antonio, 23, lives in
Chicago, T.J. is a sophomore forward at UCLA and Sean, 15, lives
with Terry). "They talk about the lost books of the Bible," says
Cummings, who has been to only one NBA game since he retired.
"I'm finding all the lost books of Terry."

--Jamal Greene

COLOR PHOTO: ANDY HAYT (COVER) After 18 seasons of pouring in points in the NBA, Cummings is pouring out his soul in his music.