RANGER -- They didn't think Robert Reid would come and join the Ranger College basketball staff.
Didn't think the former NBA player would leave the bright lights of Houston to become an assistant coach for Ranger College -- the enrollment is 1,753 -- and move to a town whose population is just 2,581. Reid, however, never blinked when Ranger coach Larry Brown called earlier this year and asked him to join his staff.
Brown, though, had to convince Ranger College President Bill Campion that the man who helped lead the Houston Rockets to the 1981 and '86 NBA Finals would indeed set up shop at Ranger, which is about 90 miles west of Fort Worth.
"When I told Dr. Campion I wanted to bring Robert Reid in as my first guy, he said, 'Robert's not going to come here,'"Brown said. "I said, 'Trust me, Doc, on this.'
"Of course everybody thought an NBA guy, he's just coming through here to do nothing and be an NBA guy. But they found out real quick that he's going to get in that dorm and help those kids, and be on the court.''
Once on campus, Reid, 56, dug in deep and immediately became a favorite around campus and within the community. He even stays in one of the men's dormitories.
"He comes out here and he's the dorm director over there, and he cooks for the players,'' Brown said. "Over Thanksgiving, he cooked turkey and ham.
"Every night on Monday Night Football he has a cookout where he'll have a Cajun boil or something. He just loves working with kids and is always trying to help them with their goals in life and basketball, and it's been just a good fit for all of us in here to try to build something at Ranger.''
Reid, who played in the NBA from 1977-91, has a 25-year relationship with Brown, who used to be one of his neighbors while the two lived in Houston. Brown, in fact, convinced Reid to join his Houston Westfield High School staff -- a squad that finished the 2005-06 season with an impressive 36-1 record and ranked No.2 in the country.
"I like it down here and I'm glad that I came," said Reid, who at 6-foot-8 was a small forward in the NBA and averaged 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in his career. "The kids, the coaches, the administration, everyone has been so nice.
"But I let everybody know this is coach Brown's program, this is not Robert Reid's program. I'm here with LB, his signature is on this floor and on that bench, and he decides who gets the scholarships, and when he says jump, I'm up there and saying, 'When can I come down?'"
Campion describes Reid as a bonus for his school.
"Robert Reid is a very class guy and he certainly commands the respect of all those with whom he comes in contact," Campion said. "He obviously knows a lot of basketball, he brings tremendous credibility to the program and he's an outstanding human being.
"He causes the players to show respect for things off the court as well as on the court, and I've been very impressed with that. He runs one of the dorms, and he makes people go and thank the cafeteria ladies."
A second-round pick by the Rockets in '77, Reid has been an assistant coach in the Continental Basketball Association, American Basketball Association, United States Basketball League, and in Hungary, and has worked basketball clinics in India, Spain and the Canary Islands. Brown believes it's only a matter of time before the Schertz High School product is sitting on an NBA bench as a coach.
"I'm surprised he hasn't gotten an NBA job in some capacity by now," Brown said. "Robert comes in here with just a world of network where he knows everybody, and he knows basketball.
"A lot of the NBA guys know how to play the game, but they have to articulate how to coach the game, and Robert has a good feel for that. He's done some stuff overseas, and we've done some things together in the Canary Islands and Spain, so I knew his passion was for helping kids."
And Brown knew Reid was always positive and enthusiastic, and knew his players would react positively to his work ethic. But Reid, who also is in charge of Ranger's strength program, cautioned all that he is at Ranger to help his good friend Brown.
"I can talk and I can give great interviews and sometimes that can intimidate people," Reid said. "But Larry knows me, and he knows I go to work for coach Brown.
"When I walk in the gym I may be Robert Reid. But I am an assistant to LB."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760