Kilpatrick Realizes NBA Dream With Nets
By Cory Wright
Sean Kilpatrick trekked across the United States looking for a basketball home.
Turns out, the opportunity was waiting for him a few miles away from where he grew up.
Kilpatrick, a Yonkers, NY native found the NBA stability he’d been working – and yearning – for on Saturday, turning a pair of 10-day contracts into a multi-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s not every day that you get a New York kid playing for a New York team like this,” Kilpatrick, who is averaging 11.9 ppg with the Nets, said. “Growing up, this is a kid’s dream coming out of New York to come here and play for basically their hometown. There are a lot of guys I know in the NBA from New York that would die for a position like this.”
Kilpatrick’s position three weeks ago wasn’t so enviable. He had just signed a 10-day contract with the Nets, with nothing assured ahead of him, a road he’d been down before. During the 2015-16 season alone, he had two 10-day contracts with the Denver Nuggets, played the preseason with the New Orleans Pelicans and spent a majority of the year playing for the Delaware 87ers in the NBA Developmental League.
Prior to that, there was summer league for the Philadelphia 76ers, a 10-day contract with Minnesota, an invitation to Golden State’s training camp, summer league for the Milwaukee Bucks and a D-League trade from Santa Cruz to Delaware.
That’s a lot of moving, a lot of hope and a lot of disappointment. It was the type of odyssey that tests a man’s mettle, but Kilpatrick – with the help of his family – never gave up.
“My family never gave up on me,” Kilpatrick said. “My mom especially, she was with me throughout – every night, day in day out, my dad as well. I really commend those people on supporting me through everything I’ve done. My family and friends, they’ve done the same thing, my little brother just constantly kept up, telling me keep pushing, keep striving and everything will work out on its own.”
His five-year-old daughter Bailey also helped him persevere through the last two years. Kilpatrick resisted going overseas, where there was more money on the table, to stay stateside and be around her. As much as it’s his dream to be an NBA player, he’s doing this for her, too.
“Being in Brooklyn is a blessing because I’m a lot closer to her and I can support and help her as well,” Kilpatrick said. “That was one of the main keys for me – main reasons I didn’t choose overseas and I didn’t want to leave her to the point where she didn’t know where her dad was, or she didn’t understand the concept.”
It’s easy to root for Kilpatrick, a guy who’s in the game for the right reasons – love of both basketball and family – and whose dedication kept him on a path despite its twists and turns. He said he’s been embraced by his Nets teammates and feels like he’s been here all season, rather than just three weeks.
“He comes in, he’s aggressive and plays with a lot of energy, tenacity and gives us a huge lift,” Brook Lopez said of Kilpatrick. “His kind of confidence and enthusiasm is incredible.”
As long as the journey has been to an NBA contract, earning it is only a first step in his NBA career. Kilpatrick knows two things: to work hard, and not take anything for granted.
“A situation like this can be taken away from you at any given moment,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m just going to continue to take each and every day – especially practice and games – as a 10-day. That helps to motivate you as well as continue to making sure that you’re working hard. I just want to make sure I continue having that 10-day mentality and make sure that all my hard work continues to keep paying off.”