Interview: Dan Reed Talks Hoops
President of the NBA D-League discusses the present and future.
by Pardeep Toor
The Tulsa 66ers faced off against the Springfield Armor last night in Tulsa, OK and it was just another night of basketball with home team winning, 107-101. Chris Richard made his return to Tulsa after a back-to-back 10-day contracts with the Chicago Bulls, Deron Washington and DeVon Hardin threw down for the 66ers in the decisive third quarter, Larry Owens and Moses Ehambe represented Oral Roberts with pride and oh yeah, the President of the league was there, taking it all in.
Dan Reed, President of the NBA Development League since 2007, continued his trek across the country, visiting all the teams in D-League, with a stop in Tulsa. Reed has been working for the League in various capacities for the last six years and has been President of the D-League for the last three.
A Michigan man by birth, Reed grew up watching the Bad Boys era in Detroit and cited Joe Dumars as his favorite Piston. He spared a few moments after the game to talk about the current state of the league and his vision for the future.
SLAM: What brought you out here today?
Dan Reed: I try to get around to every team over the course of the season and I haven’t been here (Tulsa, OK) at the new facility. I’ve lost track of all the teams I visited this year but I think it’s in double digits. But I try to get to as many as I can over the course of a season.
SLAM: Springfield is a new team and I hear you have another team coming next year in the Dallas suburbs, Frisco. Is expansion a big part of what you’re doing right now?
DR: It has been a big part. We’ve doubled the size of the league over the last four years – from eight to 16 teams. As you mentioned we have our new team in Frisco, owned by Donnie Nelson of the Mavs coming in for next season.
We are not going to continue to grow at that pace. It’s all about sustainable growth and making sure we’re building for the long-term.
SLAM: Tell me one thing you’re most proud of in the D-League in the last three years since you have been President.
DR: I think probably the greatest testimonial of the effect the development league has had on the NBA is that nearly 20 percent of all NBA players came from the NBA Development League. That’s a stat that most people are surprised by but when you start looking at rosters and you see the Chris Andersons, Aaron Brooks’, Chuck Hayes’, Kelenna Azubuikes, Matt Barnes, Shannon Browns of the world playing such a big role for their teams. I think that’s the greatest testimonial we can have about the success of the league so far.
SLAM: How about one thing that is not working right now that you could improve on in the coming years?
DR: I think the biggest thing is helping fans understand how great this basketball really is. Most fans don’t know that one-of-five players came out of the developmental league. Most fans don’t know that over half the players in our league were all-conference or better in college. We’re still relatively new on the basketball scene compared to college basketball and the NBA so it’s going to take some time. But the thing that is really reassuring to all of us is that when people come and watch the game, they are really impressed and our fan base continues to grow because of that.
SLAM: Latavious Williams, not an iconic figure yet but he’s very symbolic in your league. First of all, when you heard he was coming, what was your first reaction?
DR: For us, the NBA Development League is all about developing players for the NBA. In our minds, if you are eligible to play in our league and you have the talent and you have the work ethic and if you want to be the best in the world at what you do, we want you here.
In Latavious’ case, he has shown that. I think this is a great opportunity for him to play against NBA players with NBA coaching in front of NBA scouts and really position himself to have a very successful basketball career.
SLAM: Do you see this potentially as a trend? Are there going to be future high school graduates playing in the D-League?
DR: I think it’s a little premature to talk about any trend. I’ll just say that we feel that we are the best way for a player to get to the NBA. We have produced four times more NBA players than any of the other professional basketball leagues in the world. Regardless of whether you are coming out of college or you have been overseas for a couple years, no matter your situation, this is a good situation.
SLAM: D-League in ten years, what do you see?
DR: I see an evolved version of what we have today. I think you will see more and more Development League players have success in the NBA. I think you will continue to see NBA teams get directly involved with their NBA Development League affiliates like Oklahoma City is with Tulsa here. I think you will continue to see great players playing in this league and achieving their dreams.
In ten years I think we will look back at these days and say those were the times that this league really got built. It is fun to be involved in helping build such a great league and what I think is a very important minor league for the NBA and the game of basketball.