Sean Kilpatrick remembers the phone call he got last February from Sean Marks. He was playing for the Delaware 87ers and was skeptical he’d ever get THE call, the call-up call.
“I didn’t know who it was because it was a random number,” Kilpatrick told Mike Scotto of Basketball Insiders. “I said, ‘Who is this?’ He said, ‘It’s Sean Marks.’ I said ‘From where?’ He said, ‘The Brooklyn Nets. Are you ready to play?’ I said, ‘Yeah I’m ready, I’m ready. What do you want me to do?’ He was like, ‘Meet us in L.A. I’ve sent everything, just meet us there.’ I ended up going to L.A. and as soon as I got to L.A., I just played.”
It was the first of two 10-day deals for Kilpatrick, who had been averaging 26.4 points a game at Delaware, the D-League’s leading scorer. At the end of the second 10-day, Marks signed Kilpatrick to a three-year deal, covering the end of last year, a guaranteed year at the vets’ minimum ($980,000); and a team option for slightly higher salary.
Kilpatrick realizes he owes Marks ... and gets emotional in explaining it.
“Every night I really sit here and say to myself, ‘Where would I be without him?’” Kilpatrick told Scotto. “It’s like my emotions toward Mr. Marks are kind of crazy because I always say he saved my life, and he did. He really sat here and said, ‘This is a team I want you to be a part of, and just make sure you just play your game and be who you are.’ I think that’s something no team has ever done for me and once I had that type of comfort, it made things a lot easier for me.”
Strong stuff, but Kilpatrick backs it up by recalling what it was like before Marks gave him his big break. A first team All-American at Cincinnati, a D-League scoring machine, but other than two brief call-ups, not much of a chance at the NBA.
“Nights,” Kilpatrick said when asked to reflect on the low points. “I was sitting there talking to my dad, my mom, and really just sitting here frustrated with the process asking, ‘Why? Why is it taking so long?’ I’m sitting here, doing great in the D-League, doing everything I can possibly do and the only thing my agent had to say to me was, ‘Continue to keep striving and keep being who you are. Don’t worry, a team’s going to pull the trigger on you.’”
And then someone did. The feeling is mutual. When Marks and Kenny Atkinson met with the media before start of camp, the Nets GM was asked for an example of a player who had surprised. He specifically cited the work that Kilpatrick had put in on the court and in the weight room.
Now, after Kilpatrick’s breakout game vs. the Clippers, there will be a new challenge for Kilpatrick (and to a lesser degree, Marks), moving into a more permanent, more consistent role. So far, though, so good.