Willie Reed throws out the first pitch tonight in Kansas City, a big deal for a hometown kid. It's the latest dream he'll fulfill this summer, signing an NBA contract, getting married and learning he's going to be a father again this season. The big deal, of course, was the contract ... and it was unexpected.
Reed had been playing --and well-- for the Miami Heat summer league team this July. According to Heat beat writers, he had held his own against Hassan Whiteside, who was practicing with the Heat in Orlando.
Then, instead of an offer from the Heat, he got one from the Nets. He described to the Nets website what it was like when he got the phone call he had awaited for what must have seemed like forever. His agent was on the line, saying Brooklyn wanted him on the roster. The deal was mostly if not fully guaranteed, about $500,000, but it was a milestone.
No more training camp invites, not more 10-day deals. This was the culmination of his social media campaign begun during his D-League days with the Springfield Armor. #CallWillieUp was happening.
"I was excited when I found out," he told Culver. "I was having dinner with my wife and son, we were just sitting at a restaurant when I got the call and she just started crying. I called my mom and she started crying. It was just a great moment for all of us for me to finally reach my dream."
Reed has been among the most well traveled of those basketball vagabonds who spend their youth pursuing the NBA dream. He's played for D-League teams in Springfield, Des Moines, Reno and Grand Rapids, spent time in Eilat, Israel; Girona, Spain; and Santiago in the Dominican Republic. 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 rosters of the Grizzlies and Kings, but has never played a minute for either.
Now the native of Kansas City is (mostly) secure, likely to play behind Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani in the post and maybe some at power forward as well. He's also getting recognition at home. Tonight, he throws out the first pitch at the Royals game vs. White Sox game.
He says he's ready and hopes not to embarrass himself.
"I grew up watching the Royals. I’m just a hometown kid, so to get the opportunity to throw out the first pitch it just shows that anything is possible and that I’m just living my dream," Reed told Culver. "We’ve been practicing at the arena a little bit, but it’s been with a softball, so I’m hoping that it translates. Keep your fingers crossed for me because you don’t want to see me on SportsCenter in THAT Top 10."
Reed Living His Dream - Kari Culver - Brooklyn Nets