After Alex Kennedy wrote a lengthy profile of Willie Reed's long journey to the NBA and the Nets, he then broke the big news about the big man in a series of tweets.
Fun fact NYers will love: Willie Reed and Willis Reed are distant relatives. Willie's grandmother (on father's side) and Willis are cousins.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 14, 2015
When Willie Reed was about 11 or 12 years old, he met Hall of Famer Willis Reed at a family reunion. As I said, they're distant relatives.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 14, 2015
is Willis Reed's son, including the press guy for the Santiago Metros of the Dominican Republic, where Reed had a cup of coffee on his roard to the NBA. The marketing team for the Metros even printed trading cards with pictures of the two of them!
But being a distant cousin of the Knicks Hall of Famer is still way cool for the Nets. After all, Willis has a lot of connections with the Nets, too. Willis served as Nets GM and coach in the nineties and was minority owner for a while, too. And like Willis, Willie will play center in New York City.
Unlike Willis, though, Willie is a basketball vagabond. His famous forebear played for Knicks, period.
Willie has played for D-League teams in Springfield, Des Moines, Reno and Grand Rapids, spent time in Eilat, Israel; Girona, Spain; and Santiago in the D.R. There were summer league stints with the Kings, Grizzlies, Pacers and this year the Heat and Nets, training camps with the Kings, Grizzlies and Nets. He's actually been on the regular season rosters of the Grizzlies and Kings, but has never played a minute for either. Now, he's got his best chance, a one-year deal with a $500,000 guarantee.
It wasn't easy getting here, he admitted to Kennedy.
"At times it was frustrating, but it humbled me. I had gotten the opportunity to get called up in the past, but this past season it didn’t happen. It just made me want to work harder. I figured that if that call-up wasn’t coming, there was something more I needed to do or something I needed to work on, so I was in the gym every single day. And I tried to be as consistent as possible; I was determined to be consistent in every single game and keep improving."
He says he's ten times the player he was in 2011 when he went undrafted out of St. Louis University. But until this summer, the chance had escaped him. Then, after being the top prospect in the D-League last year, he signed up with the Heat for summer league. The Nets had signed and cut him last October, something he admits propelled him.
As Kennedy writes, he got noticed, particularly one afternoon vs. the Nets.
The performance that turned heads was against the Brooklyn Nets. This was somewhat of a revenge game for Reed, since the Nets had cut him after training camp last year. This game was clearly important to him and he wanted to send a message. He did just that. Reed finished the game with 17 points (on 8-12 shooting from the field) and nine rebounds in 28 minutes. Cory Jefferson, who was one of the players who made the team over Reed last year, had zero points, two rebounds, three turnovers and three fouls in 12 minutes.
Days later, Reed was signed to a mostly guaranteed deal and Jefferson was cut. Now, the 6'11" --"a legitimate 6'11", as he's told us-- center/power forward knows he has something to prove, not just for himself, but for his fiance', their 18-month-old son and an upcoming addition .... who won't be Willis Reed's grandson, just an even more distant cousin.
- NBA PM: Willie Reed Gets His Shot With Nets - Alex Kennedy - Basketball Insiders