If there are two themes that run through Sean Kilpatrick’s article for Players’ Tribune, other than family, they are don’t mess with players from New York ... and the Brooklyn Nets, particularly in the person of Sean Marks, saved his life.
The piece opens with that in-your-face optimism that marks New York players as a group and Kilpatrick as a player.
“There are a lot of myths about basketball players from New York, but there’s one I want to bust right off the jump.
“They say the only thing New Yorkers know how to do is dribble.”
Kilpatrick is no Kenny Anderson or Stephon Marbury or Sebastian Telfair. It’s not about the ball on the string. It’s about about putting the ball through the strings. Kilpatrick is a shooter, always has been, always will be.
He writes about how his ability to shoot surprised people starting in AAU ball.
“People would sag off me ’cause they thought I was this New York kid who couldn’t hit an open jump shot. (Bad idea. I went on to tie the career record for three-pointers made at Cincinnati.)”
And that pride continues today with the Nets. He describes what it was like to take over the game in the Nets win over the Clippers, probably their biggest game of the year ... and how the confidence Marks and Kenny Atkinson instilled in him was crucial.
“That kind of confidence has meant everything coming from the coach and GM — to know they want the ball in your hands in big stretches.
“I ended up with 38 points and 14 rebounds. Not bad for a kid from Yonkers.”
Marks and Atkinson get special treatment from Kilpatrick who got his first real chance in the NBA at age 27 when Marks signed him to two 10-days, then a multi-year deal.
“When Sean Marks and Brooklyn decided to pull the trigger on me and give me a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season last year — man, what a relief — Sean Marks pulled me aside and told me that I was one of his guys. We have a little joke about it, because offering me a contract was one of his first transactions — ‘Let’s not screw this up for each other.’ Even though I wasn’t a lottery pick or anything, he made sure that I was part of the plan going forward and that he was invested in me. “
Like so many of the Nets players, he talks about his coach in glowing terms.
“Coach is always making sure that we’re going out and playing to our fullest potential, making sure we’re enhancing every part of our game and becoming more well-rounded players. As a young group, it’s important for us to find as many little things in our games to polish as we can.”
There’s a lot more, like how his mother told him Cincinnati was the place for him, that he had to get out of Yonkers to succeed, about how he met Jadakiss as a teenager and they’re still friends, who’s the best player he ever saw ... and how he is inspired by his parents and the community from which he rose. It’s lengthy, but then so is the road Kilpatrick followed.
- A Yonkers Tale - Sean Kilpatrick - Players Tribune