From Glory Days featuring Terry Duerod
Terry Duerod is the definition of a hometown kid. After being born and raised in the city of Detroit, he would go on to play basketball at every level for his hometown. “It was great growing up playing in front of my home fans,” Duerod says. “It was one of the best feelings ever.” Terry’s love for basketball really grew when he was in high school. While on a travel team in the tenth grade, Duerod and his teammates went to an NBA game in New York where he watched the legendary Julius “Dr. J” Irving. “I lost my mind seeming him play,” Duerod shared. While in high school at Highland Park, Terry Duerod was often told by his coach that he would have a lot of options provided he kept practicing. In his junior year Highland Park high school won the state championship, which was dedicated to two of his teammates that were in a serious car accident, one of whom died. They nearly followed it up with a second championship his senior season but lost in the state championship game.
Just like his coach said, Duerod was highly recruited by numerous colleges but chose to stay in his own backyard and play for the University of Detroit Mercy and their coach, the now legendary Dick Vitale. Terry explains that he picked U of D over other schools because he really enjoyed playing in front of his friends and family in high school and he did not want to move. One thing Vitale would always preach to his players is that it was never too early to think about life after basketball, something that would stick with Terry throughout his career. He played all four years for the Titans and scored 1,690 points, with an average of 23.3 points per game.
Shortly after Duerod finished his fourth and final year at U of D, Coach Vitale made a move to the Detroit Pistons as their new head coach. He convinced the Pistons to draft Duerod in the third round of the 1979 NBA Draft, which gave Terry even more time in front of the home crowd. During his NBA rookie season Duerod averaged 9.3 points per game and shot 47 percent from the field. Unfortunately for Terry, Vitale would be replaced at the beginning of the 1980 season and the new Pistons head coach, Richie Adubato, decided not to protect Duerod in the expansion draft. Terry was then selected by the newly- formed Dallas Mavericks. Dallas, however, decided to use Duerod’s value as a bargaining chip to get assets from other teams, a common practice for expansion teams, and they traded him to the Boston Celtics. Although he was pretty far from Detroit, Boston quickly treated him as one of their own and he became a fan favorite. In 1981, the Celtics became NBA Champions, an experience that Terry now says was “like no other.”
His NBA career however, did not last much longer. After the 1982 season he was left without a team and found himself playing in the Continental Basketball Association, then a second-tier pro basketball league like the NBA G League of today, where he came home to play for the Detroit Spirit. Although he loved being back in Detroit and winning a CBA Championship, there were some things that made Terry feel like his career was coming to an end. At one-point Duerod drove himself 15 hours to a game in Bangor, Maine, versus flying on a private plane as he was accustomed to while playing in the NBA. After the 1983 season, the Spirit relocated to Savannah, Georgia, but Duerod decided to try something else. Terry Duerod finished his pro basketball career playing two seasons for the Scavolini Pesaro in Italy. “Italian fans are nutty but they are also really into basketball,” Terry said.
After moving back from Europe, Duerod realized, like Dick Vitale told him all those years ago, there is a life after sports and he needed to move on from basketball. “You want to keep playing but sometimes you need to look in a different direction,” Duerod said. Times were tough for Terry at first. He briefly drove a shuttle bus at Metro Detroit Airport but quickly realized that job was not for him. Terry Duerode still played recreational basketball and many of his friends happen to be members of the Detroit Fire Department. After being told they only worked eight or nine days a month, Duerod decided to give firefighting a try. Duerod’s firefighter friends tried to warn him about the challenging agility test, but he passed without a problem because he was still in great shape from his professional basketball days.
Quickly he began to love this new career and has loved it ever since. His goal was to be an engine driver but he needed two years of field work before he could put himself on the driver’s list. During those two years he had to run into burning buildings and follow the veterans so he knew what he needed to do. His first big fire was a ten-story apartment building, which required him to walk up all ten flights of stairs with full fire gear, something that he says is a lot more physically demanding than anything in the NBA. After becoming a driver, he worked his way up from the squad cars to the fire engines and drove them every day for over 20 years. After a total of 27 years of service with the Detroit Fire Department, Duerod had to retire because of an age restriction but still hangs out with his firefighter friends while playing basketball on the Detroit Fire Department’s team.
When it comes to transitions in life, Terry Duerod knows firsthand through his experiences that you will have bumps in life but no matter what, you must keep going and going and never give up. He also looks back at something his legendary college coach, Dick Vitale use to tell him: “No matter what you want to do, be great at it.”
You can catch Terry Duerod’s full TV interview this Sunday, March 25th on From Glory Days, on TV20 Detroit at 6:00 a.m. Set your alarms or DVRs to hear Terry’s story directly from this NBA Champion himself.
Check out other athletes featured on the From Glory Days page.
Michael Holzman is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with honors, with a BA in Communications. He also has a communications and broadcasting degree from Specs Howard School of Media Arts. A native of the Detroit area, Michael is now an associate producer for the TV show, “From Glory Days” and also works for Yellow Flag Productions, primarily reporting and gathering video for their popular show, “State Champs Sports Network.”