AZ to play only in PBA
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 24, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Beer import Arizona Reid said yesterday he has reconsidered his decision to retire but will now play only in the PBA, adding that settling down in Manila is a possibility for the future.

Reid, 29, initially said he would retire after the recent PBA Governors Cup. After towing the Beermen to the title, Reid had a change of heart. The sweet taste of victory came in Reid’s fifth conference in the PBA. While he failed to bag the Best Import award, Reid said nothing’s more important than winning the championship. He previously took two Best Import awards with Rain Or Shine but had never played on a title squad until his move to San Miguel.

Reid said from the onset, he knew his NBA dream would be elusive. He finished his college career at High Point University in North Carolina with over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and is one of only 109 players to achieve both marks, joining the likes of Tim Duncan, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Larry Bird. Despite his glowing varsity stats, Reid wasn’t in the pool of 64 players invited to Orlando for the NBA pre-draft camp after his graduation in 2008.

“I’m a 6-3 power forward with no chance to make it in the NBA because of my size,” he said. “So I decided to play overseas and provide for my family. I didn’t think struggling financially while playing in the NBA D-League was a viable option because I could never play in the NBA anyway.” It turned out to be a smart decision. Reid saw action in Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Australia, Lebanon, Germany, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and the Philippines in a globetrotting career that built a secure future for his family.

“I’ve played all over the world and the best place is the Philippines by far,” he said. “I love the fans, the Filipino people. I wouldn’t mind living in Manila permanently. I love the PBA, it’s a man’s league. I can’t really complain about the officiating. It has its ups and downs. I know I work the referees a little bit and I’ve gotten my share of technicals. That’s because I’m an emotional player. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the officiating a 6 with 4 a passing mark so that’s not bad. If I were the PBA commissioner for a day, I wouldn’t change a thing because nothing’s broken. Maybe, I’ll consider adding a few more teams.”

Reid said from years of playing overseas, the grind has taken a toll on his body. “No more NBA dream for me,” he said. “From now on, I’m playing exclusively in the PBA and just in the Governors Cup. It’s hard playing against 7-footers in the Commissioner’s Cup. To keep in shape, I’ll do rec leagues in the US but no D-League or NBA camps. I want to spend more quality time with my girlfriend Kelly and my kids Adrianna who’s four and Arizona IV who’s one.” Reid’s girlfriend and son Arizona IV arrived in Manila last Thursday for a two-week vacation before they all return to the US.

Reid said he played the Governors Cup with just one good eye. “I had blurred vision in my left eye,” he said. “I couldn’t even read with that eye. I wore contact lenses but still, my left eye couldn’t focus. In shooting the ball, I relied on instinct and my feel for the distance between where I shot and the goal.”

Reid was scheduled to undergo an eye procedure with ophthalmologist Dr. Anna Lisa Mateo to correct the deficiency at the American Eye Center at the Shangri-La Mall yesterday. The procedure is called cross-linking where the objective is to improve the shape of his left cornea so he is able to maximize his vision with a higher tolerance to wear a contact lens. Reid’s condition is called keratoconus where his cornea is irregularly shaped like a distorted windshield of a car, making his vision difficult to improve with eye glasses or contact lens.

Reid said he is blessed playing the game he loves professionally. On his back, a Filipino tattoo artist inscribed “Blessed” over the giant initials AZ. The mural on his back took 15 hours to finish. In all, he has 23 tattoos all over his body and six were made here, including the imprint of the words “Hard Work” and “Dedication” on his left bicep.

While on this Manila trip, Reid has so far bought 80 pairs of shoes to add to his collection of 600. He even bought two pairs of Jordans for his one-year-old son. “I guess it’s a shoe fetish,” he chuckled. “My girlfriend has about 60 pairs but I’ve got 600. It’s what I spend my money on. I’m a regular customer at Titan.”

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