For Garrett, Hoops Is a Family Affair
Diante Garrett’s father asks him every day whether or not he’s working hard.
As undrafted rookie that has a non-guaranteed contract, Garrett and his father know that a career in the NBA is fragile. Garrett knows this because he can be placed on the inactive list one night, and dressing for a game the next night.
His father, Dick, knows because he played in the NBA himself.
“He’s always been a positive role model,” Garrett said about his father. “He has always been there and has pushed me to get better.”
Dick played five seasons in the NBA, with stops in Buffalo, New York and Milwaukee. Milwaukee is where he raised his son before sending him off to Iowa St. to play college ball.
After a breakout senior season where he averaged 17.3 points and 6.1 assists per game, Garrett started to appear on the radars of NBA front offices. Although he worked out for some teams, he ended up playing in Croatia and France during the 2011-12 season.
After performing well in the 2012 Las Vegas NBA Summer League for the Suns, Garrett was invited to the team's training camp. Despite the fact that the club was already carrying three point guards, the former Cyclone earned himself a position on the roster.
After making his NBA debut in Miami in garbage time, Garrett received the first meaningful minutes of his NBA career against the Grizzlies during last week’s road trip.
With backup point guard Sebastian Telfair in New York due the passing of his father and rookie Kendall Marshall on assignment in the D-League, Garrett got the call as the second unit’s playmaker.
“I was a little nervous, but after a couple trips up and down, I was fine,” Garrett said. “It’s a big stage.
“The lights are really bright out there. I never had that kind of experience before.”
Although he had appeared in preseason games and against Miami that one time, joining the rotation was a different animal.
“It’s your job and you have to be on point,” he said. “All the eyes are on you when you got the ball. It’s a different kind of feeling.”
In nine minutes, Garrett totaled one point, three assists, a rebound and a steal. While he didn't blow up the scoreboard, his activity left a positive impression on the coaching staff.
So while he may have taken an indirect road to this moment in his career, it was a place he and his father knew was possible.
“He always gave the confidence that I could play at the next level,” Garrett said about his father. “He was always on me to get into the gym and get better. He knew what it took to get here.”
Although Garrett talks to his father frequently, their talks don’t center around basketball. Instead, the pair chat about Diante’s son, Dayton, as well as a host of other topics.
Dick never pushed Diante like an overbearing Little League father. Instead of being a coach, he was his father first.
But every time they do talk, Dick always leaves Diante with a reminder to work hard every day. He tells his son that his efforts will eventually pay off.
It is the most important lesson he ever took from his father.
“You can get beat,” the younger Garrett remembered his father saying, “but don’t ever get outworked. Hard work beats talent any day.”
In the Suns’ locker room, there is a posted record of how many lifts each player has posted in the weight room over the past month. Garrett led all Suns last month, setting a new team record with 34 lifts.
Diante has no idea what he’d be doing if he wasn’t playing basketball. But when he’s done with his career, he’d like to pass along some of the lessons he’s learned from his dad.
“I would like to coach kids some day,” he said. “I want to make sure they’re on the right path, like my always did for me. So if I could do that for other kids, I think it would pay off.”
He would know. He’s seen first-hand the difference it can make in someone’s life.
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.