Dominican Republic Rumors
Three-year NBA veteran Willie Reed, who played abroad in 2015: “When I was playing in the Dominican Republic, they actually marketed me as Willis Reed’s son. That was funny to me. I told them like a million times, ‘Hey, I’m not Willis Reed’s son!’ I don’t know if it was the language barrier or if it was just a marketing tool, but they kept saying it! My grandmother and father had told me that we are related to Willis Reed – he was apparently my grandmother’s first cousin – but I never got the chance to meet him or anything and I’m definitely not his son! But everywhere we went throughout the Dominican Republic, everyone was like, ‘That’s Willis Reed’s son!’ It was one of the few things they knew how to say in English, so it’s not like I could explain that I wasn’t his son and get into all of that. The team just kept saying it and a ton of people would show up to the games because they wanted to see Willis Reed’s son, no matter how many times I told them otherwise. I just thought it was hilarious. They thought that the entire time I was over there, and I was there for nearly two months!”
Celtics forward Al Horford remembers playing on a crumbling concrete basketball court in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, when he was a child. The conditions were so poor, he said, that many children chose not to play. Horford and the Dominican bank Banco Popular began a youth basketball initiative last summer focused on growing the game there. And the first big steps were recently completed, as two outdoor basketball courts were completely reconstructed. The first is in Puerto Plata, and the other is in La Romana, the hometown of Horford’s father, Tito. “It’s been great,” Horford said. “They were playing on these courts before, and that’s kind of when your heart goes out. Like, the rims are broken and it’s like, ‘Man the courts aren’t in good condition.’
Towns expressed appreciation for Horford, former NBA player Charlie Villanueva and other Dominican basketball stars who paved the way for him. “It’s an amazing, amazing time to see two Dominicans strive to play basketball at the highest level,” Towns said. “Al is one of the pioneers who showed how you can really make it if you push your talent and put your mind to something. I’m just trying to follow the leader.”
Alvaro Martin: NBA: Basketball Without Borders at All-Star Weekend’s girls camp includes #FlorenciaChagas (Argentina) and #SolmilenaArias (Dominican Republic). @NBALatAm @NBAArgentina @NBAMEX @NBAChile @NBAColombia
Before Malik was born, basketball was already a part of his family’s life. His father, Michael Beasley, was playing professional ball overseas in Chile, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Malik can still recall the old newspaper clippings with stories in Spanish detailing some of his dad’s best games. “He has these newspapers from his time playing. They’re old and covered in coffee stains. I couldn’t ever read them because they were in Spanish, but I would just say, ‘wow, that could be me.’” By the age of two, Malik already have a basketball in his hand. “My first word was ‘basket.’”
His dad put Malik into an organization basketball YMCA program where Malik began to learn how to play the game. From then now, Malik and his father began to put in the work. “Once I decided I loved the game, it was time to get to work.” From early morning workouts to practices to games, Michael Beasley was along to help support Malik. “At first those early mornings, I didn’t really like it. At 6AM, I didn’t want to get up. But then, when I realized I really could make it to the NBA, it was my dad who I had to wake up instead of me.”
“It’s a sacrifice league. The money is not that great, but it pays the bills. During the summer, I try to make that money up that I didn’t make playing in the D-League by playing in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. It works for me,” Maurice Baker said (expected to extend his D-League record for games played to 356 on Friday night).