Shooting guard Carrick Felix has plans to be a motivational speaker once he retires from the game of basketball and now he has quite the testimonial to tell.
After three long years, two rehabbing a devastating knee injury, Felix is officially back in the NBA. He was told on Sunday that he earned the final roster spot on the Washington Wizards.
Felix's story is as interesting as they get. He was a second round pick in 2013 and played seven games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013-14 season. A broken left knee cap then took his career off track.
Last season, Felix caught on with the Long Island Nets of the D-League. He played 34 games and did enough to earn a training camp invitation from the Wizards. Now at Age 27, he's back in the NBA and ready for his second season.
"It's just a blessing looking at the overall picture, where I've been to where I'm at today. I'm just glad to be here with a good organization," he said.
"He earned his spot. He wasn't given it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I'm happy for him. He's a player that you want him to have success because he's had a tough time with injuries throughout his career. He's fought back and stayed positive and he kept working."
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Felix knew it was possible he had made the team when the Wizards waived guard Donald Sloan on Saturday. He knew his chances had improved once Sheldon Mac went down with an Achilles tear last Sunday against the Cavs.
But Felix didn't know it was official until he entered the Wizards' locker room on Sunday at Capital One Arena and center Ian Mahinmi congratulated him. The comeback, as long as it took, was complete.
Felix hadn't been able to tell his friends or family by the time he met with the media after practice.
"I'll definitely call my mom first and tell her the news. She'll be very happy," he said.
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Felix, in fact, has some D.C. roots. He lived on Bolling Air Force Base (now known as Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling) for several years as a kid before moving to the West Coast. Felix's father was in the Air Force and he still has family in the Washington area: an uncle, several cousins and his godmother.
It was a long journey to this point and now that Felix has returned to the NBA, new goals will be set. It's not a dream anymore. He's here and ready to contribute to the Wizards.
Brooks said the Wizards were intrigued by Felix's ability to guard point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. He's a hard-nosed defender and, with an improving three-point shot, can play the two and the three on offense.
Brooks and the Wizards believe Felix can make an impact with his high-energy style of play. Ask anyone with the Wizards about Felix and the word 'hustle' is likely to come up.
"It's always been the case for me," Felix said of his relentless effort. "I don't really notice it much. I've just always been programmed like that, since I was little, to just run around crazy until somebody blows the whistle. I just see it as playing basketball."
Felix has only seven NBA games under his belt. Technically he's been here before, it's just been a while.
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