Garrett Has Good Genes

Diante Garrett has a characteristic that every coach drools over. It's not his size, it's not his quickness and it's not even his ability to shoot. It's his genes. Diante Garrett has basketball genes; NBA basketball genes.

"Diante has been around basketball and a lot of guys who have played in the NBA. A lot of this attention that he's had, I'm kind of looking at him and I don't think it's crazy at all," Dick Garrett said about his son.


Eldo (Dick) Garrett has been instrumental in forming this new Cyclone's game from day one, but many Cyclone fans probably have no idea about the history that this proud papa has.


It all began at Southern Illinois where the elder Garrett played his college ball. One of his teammates happened to be a guy by the name of Walt Frazier, one of several of the game's best 50 players that he would be associated with in his career.


Frazier and Garrett teamed up for one year for the Salukis and they captured an NIT championship with a win over Marquette 71-56 in 1967. Dick was Frazier's back-court mate long before the storied Earl "The Pearl" Monroe was.   


Frazier and Garrett went from being teammates, to cross-country rivals in the NBA. While Frazier made a name for himself with the great Knicks teams of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Garrett made his way to the left coast after being selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. (Former Drake Bulldog great Willie McCarter was the Lakers first round pick.)


Garrett averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists on a team that featured Hall-of-famers Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor. But his old teammate got the best of Garrett in the 1970 Finals.


"Walt got his bragging rights when New York beat us in the finals during my rookie year," Garrett said about his friendship with Frazier.


Though Jerry West and Garrett don't keep in touch anymore, Frazier is another story. Frazier, who is now the color commentator for the New York Knicks, makes sure to stop by to see the Garrett family every time he's in town.


"I see Walt at least a couple of times a year. I haven't had a chance to see or talk with Jerry but there are a lot of guys here that I'm still good friends," Garrett said.


From L.A., Garrett then moved to Buffalo when the NBA expanded in late 1970.


"The NBA expanded to Cleveland, Buffalo and Portland. I was taken as the first pick in the draft. I spent the next three years with the Buffalo Braves who are now the LA Clippers," Garrett said.


After a brief stint with the New York Knicks, Garrett then moved on to Milwaukee where his Bucks and young star Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar once again came up short of a championship in the finals with a loss to the great Boston Celtics, led by hall of famers John Havlicek and Dave Cowens.


Dick Garrett played five years in the association and he made two NBA finals.


"I put a lot of hard work into it and to be able to play five years in the league was one thing that stands out. I would have loved to win an NBA championship," Garrett said. "I knocked on the door twice but I didn't quite get there."


This was the point where Garrett's NBA career came to an end, mainly due to the politics of the game.


"They drafted a couple of guards in the first round. No contact was a guaranteed contract so mine kind of put me on the short end of the stick."


You can see where Diante got his basketball savvy. Not only was his dad in the NBA, Diante's older brother played major college ball as well. With this family's love of basketball, you can imagine that the competitiveness flows constantly in the Garrett house.


"We often joke back and forth about things. I like to say ‘if I was a junior, I would have ate you up man.' We have a lot of fun with that. He says ‘Dad you couldn't check me.' I say ‘yes I could.' Garrett said while laughing.


According to Garrett, the competition still rages.


"My oldest son (Damon) is ten years older than Diante and they go at it. That's a good battle right now. I kind of get a kick out of it because they get serious. About a year or two ago the older one could toy around with him. But now, if he's going to beat Diante he's got to go all out. It's about a draw right now," Garrett said.


What about dad? Well, a hip surgery is keeping ‘pops' out of the wars.


"We go out in the driveway and shoot. I had some surgery on my hip so I had to quit playing one on one with him," Garrett said.


Even though the two can't play one on one, that doesn't stop the former NBA player from making some noise.


"Every summer we joke about who has the best jump shot in the house. We kid each other about that a lot," Garrett said.


Though the two compete, they are also great teammates, as dad isn't afraid to tell his son how to get it done. After all, he has been to the top of the basketball world.


"For as good of a kid as he is, he really works hard at what he does. He doesn't take it for granted. I think that's the thought that I try to put in his head. You get out of this what you put into it. If you want to take it to the next level you have to put the work in."


And you better believe the future Cyclone is soaking up every word.



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