The father paves the way for the son

The 2009-2010 NBA season was a long one for San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Garrett Temple.

After signing with the Houston Rockets as an undrafted free agent last September, the guard skipped donning a Rockets uniform and headed for the NBA’s D-League to play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

The 6’6″ guard averaged 14.9 ppg with 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists during his time in the Valley, bringing him back to Houston for two ten-day contracts before signing a third ten-day deal with the Sacramento Kings in March.

It wasn’t long before the Louisiana native found himself back in Texas. This time, he was playing for the same team his father had played for nearly 35 years earlier – the San Antonio Spurs.

Drafted by the Phoenix Suns as the 94th pick of the 1974 NBA Draft, Collis Temple Jr. ended up playing his professional career in San Antonio, while the team was still part of the American Basketball Association.

As a rookie forward, Collis averaged 1.8 ppg with 1.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists over his 24-game career. Before he stepped onto the professional court, the elder Temple broke racial barriers as the first African-American to play basketball at LSU, in turn paving the way for his sons Collis III and Garrett.

Collis Jr. proved to be a valuable asset for the Tigers, earning All-Southeastern Conference honors during his senior year, averaging 15.0 ppg and 10.5 rebounds. Not to be outdone by his father, Garrett broke the school’s 27-year-old record for minutes played, finishing his senior year with 4,432 minutes on the collegiate hardtop.

It was late March before Garrett landed his contract with the Spurs, keeping him in San Antonio for the remainder of the season. Shortly before the Spurs’ 2010 playoff run, a right ankle injury sent Spurs’ guard George Hill to the bench, giving Garrett a chance to step up and show the Spurs’ management that he could play more than just a single season.

On April 6, 2010, Garrett started his first game and played a career high of 27 minutes (rather extensive for a rookie in San Antonio) but he gave coach Gregg Popovich every reason to keep him on the court. Playing against his old team, the Kings, Garrett had 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.

Currently, Garrett injured his ankle while playing in the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League but it is clear he may have surpassed his father in his basketball career.

However, he certainly has his father to thank for the career opportunity he has been given. With his potential and the path that was laid before him, Garrett can remain in the NBA for many seasons to come.

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