It’s an unseasonably warm January afternoon in midtown Manhattan. The early morning rain still lingers, but people walking the streets have, for the most part, ditched their usual winter coats. Spencer Dinwiddie is one of those people. The Nets point guard just pulled up to the NBPA office in a Nets hoodie, shorts and some unlaced SK8-Hi Vans. He’s about to host a basketball clinic for kids between the ages of 9-17. About half an hour after he walked through the front door, he’s out there on the court, participating in drills with the kids.
He spends some extra time at the one-on-one station, where he uses his 6-6 frame to catch a few dunks. Parents dot the sideline, laughing in between taking videos of their sons and daughters trying to stop Brooklyn’s starting point guard. One kid even tries to hit Dinwiddie with a little step-back move, but he gets shut down.
Dinwiddie continues to run around the court at the NBPA’s office. He gives dap, poses for pictures, offers some coaching advice. It’s far from the first time that the 24-year-old’s lent a helping hand. He was donating to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts a few months ago. The Boys and Girls Club of Mexico were involved in bringing his signature sneaker, the PERCEPTION, to life. The Dinwiddie Scholars Program is donating up to $20,000 to kids in Los Angeles and Brooklyn.
“I think a lot of it has to do with my family background,” the Los Angeles native says of his philanthropy work. “Their commitment to helping people and giving back. When you’re raised in that type of culture, those values are instilled in you.”
Even though he’s giving and generous off the court, he’s developed into a cold-blooded clutch killer on it. Dinwiddie’s one of the best crunch time performers in the League, having made six shots this season to either tie or take the lead in the final minute of a game. His late-game heroics extend to earlier in the fourth quarter, too. He’s scored a total of 81 points coming down the stretch of close games in ’17-’18, tied for the eighth most in the League.
His career-high averages of 13 points and 6 assists per game this year, as well as his ability to step up when it counts most, have been a direct result of being the underdog for years.
“When you look at my story, it’s one of perseverance and work ethic,” Dinwiddie says in between drills with the kids. “I wasn’t the number one player in high school, I wasn’t the number one player in college nor the number one draft pick. But every stage I’ve found a way to keep going. And keep going and keep going and keep going.”
Dinwiddie’s had to find a way to keep going a few times in his career. He tore his ACL, lateral meniscus, medial meniscus and MCL in his junior season at Colorado. But he overcame that devastating blow and became the 38th overall pick in the 2014 Draft. The Pistons selected him but he ended up spending the majority of his time in the G-League. Then he got traded to the Bulls and spent time with Chicago’s G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. The Nets signed him to a three-year deal at the end of 2016 and now Dinwiddie’s got a message for all of his doubters.
“Thank you,” he says. “Honestly, to me, it is what it is, man. People are going to talk. I feel like I proved that I’m a starter. I am an impact player in this League. Every time I have a subpar game, people say, ‘Oh, this is why he was in the [G]-League.’ I’m going to hear that for the rest of my career.
“I want to push this thing as far as it can go,” he continues. “I never got in this to just be in the League or just have one good season. I got in this because I want to win championships, I want to be great and have a lasting impact on the game and on society, in general. I’m far from accomplishing those goals so we’ve got a long way to go. Hopefully it’s a long, successful road.”