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Back in the hoops business, Reid tackles job with abandon

ROGER REID PICKED up the phone on the first ring. Same old Roger: a heaping teaspoon of Zig Zigler, a dash of Tony Robbins and a pinch of Norman Vincent Peale. Just about one hallelujah shy of a tent revival. Reid was looking ahead to that night's game against the New Jersey Nets and, fortuitously, an old opponent.

"Keith Van Horn will probably get 40 on us," chuckled Reid, his voice rising with anticipation. "Yeah, I know all about him, but there were times when we had good scouting reports on him in college and he got 40 anyway. I told Danny (Ainge) I know his head fakes, when he goes left, right, when he uses his rocker step, I know when he's going to the inside post - but trying to stop him is a different thing."It's been 14 months since Reid was fired as BYU's coach, but he's back in the business, having hooked on with the Phoenix Suns last month as an assistant coach. In typical Reid fashion, he has swan-dived into his new job with abandon.

"I'm having the time of my life," said Reid. "Honest. I'm like a little kid. People say I'm a veteran coach, but I still think of myself as a high school guy and a high school coach, and I always tried to do things that way. The only thing is I can't run up and down the floor on defensive drills anymore."

While Reid may never forget the events that led to his being fired last year, being hired by ex-BYU star Danny Ainge has done wonders. No longer is he the wronged coach, passing time at home and attending parent-teacher conferences. Now he's back in basketball, in the fastest league of all. The move was not only good for Reid, but for BYU, because it added a sense of closure to the whole affair. His 20 years at BYU are now just a phase of his life, not his entire life. The guy who once said he never wanted any other job than to coach at BYU has found life beyond the Marriott Center.

The NBA, of course, is an entirely different trip than college coaching. In the NBA you learn to get over losses quickly. Mourn too long and you're likely to lose the next night, as well. The idea is to feel just bad enough to get irritated. In college basketball you often have five days to wallow in self-pity; in the NBA you might have 48 hours, if you're lucky.

Getting over being fired took considerably longer than 48 hours. Reid went out as quietly as a sonic boom. He fumed. He steamed. He stormed. He did just what BYU feared, going out with a roar rather than a whimper. But now he has other things to get worked up about. For instance, stopping Van Horn.

"Seeing what Van Horn can do won't be a shock to me," said Reid.

As rooted as Reid was in college sports, he has adapted quickly to his new lifestyle. He rides the exercise bike and swims at the team hotels. He gives input to Ainge, whom he says is more than willing to take advice. He even gets in some sightseeing. Whereas he spent all of his game days looking at scouting films as a college coach, scouting takes on a lower profile in the NBA.

Bitter as Reid was over being fired, he never lost his love of basketball. He still gets worked up when he sees a reverse dunk, still has a sense of awe at the game's grace. "I'm sitting there and out on the court you're watching the greatest players in the world, guys I've drooled over when I was at BYU. . . . Dang, I'd make a phone call and those guys wouldn't give you the time of day when I was a college coach. Now I'm on the front row and going against them and preparing to beat them."

Continued Reid, "Just look at our team. We've got Danny Manning, who won a championship at Kansas. We've got Jason Kidd, who was a top pick and everybody wanted him. KJ's back and he's been an all-pro for years. And (Antonio) McDyess, he's just amazing."

And that was before he even warmed up on the rest of the league.

But there are other things that make the NBA a nice substitute for a job gone bad. For example, he gets $84 per diem. "That's what I'd get for a week at BYU," he joked.

Then there's the charter flights, a lifesaver for someone who has had two hip replacements. "You never even touch your bags," he said. "It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. You drive up to the arena and they take your bags and that's it. The charter is all first-class seats - better than first class. Hey, I can sit on my seat and put my legs out and I can't touch the seat in front of me."

He could have gone on, and would have, except someone knock-ed on his hotel room door. Reid was tempted to let it go, but thought better of it. Who could blame him? As he has learned, opportunity can knock when you least expect it.