Pick-up games that persuaded the Sonics to give Kemp playing time

Pick-up games that persuaded the Sonics to give Kemp playing time

19-year-old Shawn Kemp didn’t get a lot of playing time during his rookie campaign. In 81 games played, he only averaged 13.8 minutes and 5.2 FGA per game. For a young guy hungry to prove himself in the league, that wasn’t nearly enough basketball played. So Reign Man found an alternative way to blow off some steam.

I used to be mad at the Sonics for not playing me enough that I used to come downtown and put a show for everybody in the city right down the street after the game was over. They started hearing about those things then, and they realized that I really wanted to get on the court. So they made some changes fast.

Shawn Kemp, Inside Buzz

In an exclusive with Basketball Network, Shawn Kemp advised rookies on how to make it in the NBA. The formula he came up with is this; work hard, be patient, and be ready to learn. Based on his experience, I would add one more parameter to it — show initiative. That’s what accelerated the process for Reign Man.

Mentally it’s tough. The thing about it is, you play your whole life. Then you make it to the pros, and you’re not playing; you’re almost a cheerleader at times. But you motivate yourself, the only way you’re going to get on the court is to better yourself. That comes through practice, through repetitions.

Shawn Kemp, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

Kemp did practice. He spent a lot of time watching film. He had the luxury of having veterans willing to take him under their wings as he learned from the likes of Xavier McDaniels, Derrick McKey, Nate McMillan. But none of that initiated the organization to give him more time on the floor. However, going out of his way to meet his personal needs of playing the game did.

By doing that, Kemp showed his drive. And according to Reign Man himself, the drive was “to let all the fans and the whole city realize that I can play by going out showing them after the game was over.” The fans were noted, and so were the SuperSonics. They had the guy who only cared about playing the game of basketball and was willing to work hard on his craft. So the Sonics decided to give him a shot, and to no one’s surprise, Shawn delivered.

That’s what NBA organizations love about guys — when they are true basketball fanatics and are willing to put in the work. There were questions about it with Andrew Wiggins, and he’s yet to play to his full potential. There were never questions about it with Shawn Kemp, and he’s an NBA icon and a member of the legendary NBA collective of the 90s. So I guess playing in the post-game pick-ups is the way to do it.