When you walk into the Detroit Pistons’ locker room, the locker to the far right belongs to Kay Felder, with the No. 22 next to his name. A number once worn by NBA champion Tayshuan Prince.
Felder first suited up for the Pistons in a home blowout against the Portland Trailblazers. He was born and raised in Detroit, playing high school ball at Pershing High School, just a few miles away from Little Caesars Arena. To be able to play in the NBA is one accomplishment. To be able to play for your hometown team is a feat only a few can say they had the opportunity to do. If your name is LeBron James or Derrick Rose.
“It was a surreal moment for me,” said Felder. “I grew up watching the Pistons play and I always wanted to play for them. I remember when they won the NBA title in 2004, which was huge for the city. So to be able to put on the jersey of my hometown team felt like a dream.”
Felder only played a few minutes versus Portland, grabbing one rebound, with one turnover, and missing his only two shot attempts. But the moment was far more important. He has played in front of family and friends at sold-out gyms at Pershing and Oakland University. But playing for the Pistons and having your family and friends there to share the opportunity with you is something he would never have imagined growing up.
“I’ll never forget this moment of my professional career,” said Felder. “Playing in Cleveland and Chicago was great but to play for Detroit is a dream. I had a Pistons jersey when I was younger and now I have one with my own name on it. Not everyone can say that where I come from.”
Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy shared the same sentiments. He understood how important the moment was for Felder, playing in front of the home crowd in Detroit. The game against Portland was out of reach, so it was the perfect time to allow Felder to hit the floor for the Pistons for the first time. Detroit signed Felder to a two-way contract in early January.
“Obviously, he was a crowd favorite that night,” said Van Gundy. “We like Kay and the entire team thought that was a cool moment to see him put on a Pistons jersey. He probably wished he would have made that three-pointer he missed but I could tell he was just happy to even be out there for us.”
Felder was sent back to Grand Rapids to play for the team’s G-League team but relished the opportunity he had to put on a Pistons jersey and hopes there will be more chances. But if not, at least he can say he once played for the Detroit Pistons.
“I’m going to frame all the pictures of myself in a Pistons uniform and my jersey,” said Felder. “Everyone was happy for me when I was signed and were even happier when I actually touched the floor. If can get a bigger role with the team in the near future, then my dream would really be fulfilled. If not, I’m already living it.”