Throughout a strange inaugural season in the shaky American Basketball Association, with players here arriving and departing seemingly by the week while teams elsewhere in the league folded up at nearly the same rate, the one constant on the court for the Arkansas RimRockers was guard Kareem Reid.
Reid may have been the most unappreciated University of Arkansas Razorback player during his Hog career (1996-99) for a perceived schoolyard style of play, but it’s obvious Reid was adored by thousands of RimRocker fans this season. Reid was front-and-center with the team’s off-court promotion efforts, making TV and radio appearances and always beaming that big smile. On the court, as they say about point guards, Reid was the straw that stirred the drink. He capped the season off by winning most valuable player honors in last Friday’s ABA championship game against Bellevue, Wash., scoring 38 points in the RimRockers’ 118-103 win before an announced crowd of 14,989.
If anybody deserved to be on a championship basketball team with Arkansas on the jersey, it was Reid.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association clearinghouse gave what the Hog coaching staff thought was an unfair ruling on Reid’s eligibility back in 1994, or he would have been part of that defending national championship team that played UCLA in the NCAA championship game in Seattle. And, if that team needed one more piece to repeat as champions, it was a lightning-quick guard like Reid to match UCLA’s backcourt speed. As it was, Reid sat out as a part-time student, then as a freshman the next year almost single-handedly led the Hogs into the Sweet Sixteen. That’s the best tourney finish the Hogs have had since. Reid accounted for a lot of Razorback wins in four years, was a demon on the defensive end, passed the ball brilliantly and improved his shot as his career went on. And he always played hard.
Razorback fans ran hot and cold about the Bronx native those years, but he never wavered in his apparently happiness about being in Arkansas, or coming back to play for the RimRockers after two years in the National Basketball Developmental League. What Hog fan now wouldn’t give anything to have Reid playing for the UA? Apparently they enjoyed the next best thing: having him home and winning a professional title.