MILWAUKEE — When he was a kid, Diante Garrett would occasionally get to tag along with his dad, a Bradley Center usher, and watch some Milwaukee Bucks games.
The younger Garrett remembers seeing Vince Carter with the Toronto Raptors. He fondly recalls being there when the Bucks’ Big Three — Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell — were doing their thing.
“I used to sit back in the back after the games and look at some of the superstars walk past me,” he said, “and I used to be like, ‘Wow!’”
Garrett had a different kind of “Wow!” moment Monday night.
This was the first time the Milwaukee product, who graduated at nearby Harold S. Vincent High in 2007, played in his hometown as a professional.
“I wish we would’ve got that ‘W’ tonight here in Milwaukee,” he said. “But it was a good chance to come out and play in front of my family. It was fun.”
You can only imagine how much fun it was for Garrett’s dad, Dick, to watch his son play pro ball in the same town he played in the NBA with the Bucks in 1973-74. It took Diante awhile — from Iowa State to Croatia, France, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and the D-League — but he's finally made it and is playing regularly with Utah.
“It’s hard to put into words how proud I am of him,” the elder Garrett said. “I know how hard he works. I know how much he wanted this. To see him succeed and be where he is now is really fulfilling for myself and his mom also.”
An extra element of awesomeness is how Dick Garrett works as an usher at Bucks games at this arena. He’s normally patrolling the area directly across the bench from the home team.
Fortunately, his boss gave him the night off Monday, so he could sit with his family, including Diante’s son and his older brother from Florida, behind the Jazz bench.
Garrett, wearing a shirt with a Jazz logo on it, smiled and said he had no problems cheering on the visitors on this night.
“It’s not difficult,” Dick said. “I cheer for the Bucks when they’re not playing the Jazz.”
“He’s not going to get in trouble,” Diante said, smiling before the game. “They’re going to be encouraging him to root me on even more.”
The Garretts have a special relationship and bond because of their basketball ties.
Diante and Dick talk to each other at least once every day.
“We always talk,” Diante said, appreciatively.
Sometimes, the younger Garrett will tease his dad about the short shorts he wore in his NBA playing days. Dad, who admits the bottoms were certainly short back in the 1970s, laughed and added, “I wish I could’ve handled the ball as well as he did, but I also wish he could shoot as well as I could.”
Dick will break down his son’s performance and the games, which he’ll watch live if he can or on DVR if he has work duties.
“A lot of guys don’t understand how much work you need to put into this on and off the court, being professional about everything you do,” the retired Miller Brewing Company salesman said. “I try to instill that into him on every day. That’s why we talk every day. I want him to understand where he is and how fortunate he is to be there, to love it and accept it and enjoy it while he’s here.”
The best advice Diante gets from his dad?
The Jazz player, signed out of the D-League earlier this season, said his father has told him since he was young, “Always keep working. You can be beat, but never get outworked.” The 25-year-old has “just kept that in my brain throughout my whole life.”
Part of the reward was hearing his family and friends cheer and scream when Garrett entered for the first time in the second quarter and again when he scored his only bucket in Monday’s 114-88 loss.
“Oh yeah,” he said, smiling. “I definitely heard them over there yelling and screaming.”
Garrett will get to play in front of his sister who lives in Philadelphia on Sunday, too.
His dad beamed proudly. "This is kind of a big (week) for the Garrett family."
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