For nearly as long as New York native Kareem Reid can recall, basketball has led to new boroughs, new cities and new horizons. Without it, a teenage Reid likely never would have met a Razorback named Scotty Thurman at a summer basketball camp in Michigan, never would have heard about the charms of Fayetteville, Ark. and certainly never would have ended up as the greatest passer in program history. From 1996 to 1999, Reid totaled 748 assists, more than any Razorback before or since. The 5’10” point guard also helped lead the Hogs to a Sweet Sixteen appearance and totaled 251 steals, the third-most in program history.
Now, after 14 years playing in the pros, Reid returned to Fayetteville this summer to pursue a different dream carved from the same game. At 40 years old, Reid is back as a full-time student at the University of Arkansas completing his education studies degree. It’s something he’d long put off but Thurman – now part of the UA athletic department staff and a liaison for former athletes looking to re-enroll – urged him to finish.
Reid, who commutes from Springdale, often ducks into the new Razorback basketball facility to scrimmage with the players and chat with the coaches and staff. He picks Thurman’s mind on the in’s and out’s of NCAA compliance as he pursues his dual goals of being a trainer and assistant high school basketball coach. To that end, Reid is already making headway. Since August, he says he’s volunteer coached sixth through eighth graders at St. Joseph Catholic Church and at Christmas break plans to host a “Kareem Reid Skills & Drills” camp. Reid has bigger plans, such as an Arkansan prep basketball all-star game set for April, down the line. He adds: “I want to bring some of that East Coast flavor to Arkansas.”
The marinading began in the late 1980s, when Reid, a Bronx native, teamed up with future NBA point guards Rafer Alston, of Queens, and Coney Island native Stephon Marbury. Together the trio tore up the amateur scene, indoors and out, with courtside announcers christening each precocious talent with nicknames that would last a lifetime: Marbury became “Starbury”; Alston was deemed “Skip 2 My Lou.” Reid, older but less well known, also started making an impression on the announcers. “They’d be like ‘Who’s that guy?’ After a while, they decided they had to name me something.”
From this, the “The Best Kept Secret” emerged. That’s the alias by which Reid was best known on the New York City playgrounds where he became a legend during summers between pro ball stints in Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, upstate New York and France. Reid retired in 2013 and started helping his brother run a non-profit basketball program called Nova Suns, but he began yearning for a change of pace from New York’s crime and “hustle and bustle.” With encouragement from the likes of Thurman and friend Pat Bradley, he decided the time was right for a return to northwest Arkansas.
Reid plans to graduate next summer. By then, he will have also passed a coaching certification test and should be set for next phase of his career. His goal then will be buying a Fayetteville home so that he can again live with the rest of his family. Currently, his fiancee and two elementary age stepdaughers live in Little Rock, he says.
Basketball took Reid across the nation and the world countless times. Since college, he hasn’t lived in a single spot for more than two years. Now, his playing days over, he’s ready for the game he loves to anchor him to one place.
“I feel blessed to be back.”