EAST RUTHERFORD — Some dreams, the grandest of dreams, die hard.
The Brooklyn Nets had 31 big dreamers at their practice facility on Monday for the first day of a three-day workout; 31 free agents looking to catch the eye of G.M. Billy King and his staff.
One of those dreamers is former Iona star Scott Machado of Queens. Machado’s desire to make his NBA dream come true, sadly, has been bolstered by a nightmare.
His father, Luiz, a livery cab driver, died last March while in custody of Taxi and Limousine Commission officers after a disagreement went horribly awry. His death was ruled a homicide, one that nearly shattered the hopes and dreams of the close-knit Machado family.
But four days before he died, Luiz, 61, imparted the words that motivate his son to this day.
“Our last conversation before he passed away, he said, ‘Always be confident,’ " Machado told BrooklynNets.com. “I was playing in the D-League. I had just got traded, and the game before that, I played well but I wasn’t shooting the ball well. He said, ‘Hey man, just play confident. You’ve been doing this all your life. Just play confident.’
“So it does give me a little edge. I think of that when I’m down .’’
Machado never thought his route to the NBA would be as difficult as it has turned out. After his senior year at Iona he won the 2002 Haggerty Award, presented to the best college player in the metropolitan area.
Perhaps you’ve heard of some of the other players that have won that coveted trophy: Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, Ron Artest.
Machado was a finalist for the Cousy and Wooden Awards. There was a lot of buzz about the 6-1, 205-pound point guard being a first round pick in the NBA Draft.
His best shot, he thought, was with the Chicago Bulls, which had the 29th pick. Machado had gone head-to-head with Marquis Teague, who the Nets acquired in a trade with the Bulls this season.
The Bulls took Teague, who averaged 10 points and 4.9 assists at Kentucky. Machado, who had averaged 13.6 points and 9.9 assists as a senior, went undrafted.
“I really don’t know what happened," said Machado. “I went to 22 workouts. I busted my rear end. I went to work out for the Knicks twice. I came to Nets camp and spoke to Avery [Johnson]. Avery loved me.
“I went through the workouts. I thought I was fine. I went to the Chicago workout and they loved me as well. I was actually going against Teague. They decided to take him. He was younger, went to Kentucky. I went to Iona. Maybe that had something to do with it.
“Every team that had a pick after that wanted me to go overseas. I didn’t want to go overseas. I thought I was ready. I wanted to play now. I turned down two teams to stay here.’’
Machado has had two short NBA stints, playing six games with the Houston Rockets and five with the Golden State Warriors. He appeared in five playoff games for the Warriors in 2013, after which former Golden State coach Mark Jackson had a message for Machado.
“He said, ‘Scottie, you deserve to be in the league; you’re supposed to be in the league.’’’ said Machado. “After I was done in summer league, he said, ‘Make sure next year is not a D-League year for you.’’’
“I went to Utah. They called me for training camp and I was playing well. In my fourth game - we had three more left - I got a sports hernia. I was playing through it. The very last game the doctor said you’re going to have to have surgery. So they waived me. I had to do the D-League again."
Machado most recently played for ASVEL Basket in France as a way to help his family with finances. He does not plan to be in Europe or in the D-League next season.
If he impresses the Nets’ brain trust over these three days, he might get an invitation to the team’s Orlando summer camp. That would give the Nets and other NBA teams another chance to see Machado play.
“I’ve learned that you got to stick to your game,’’ he said “At this level you got to know what you do best, and when you do what do best, everything else just falls into place. I feel I pass the ball. I pass the ball and run the team. Every guy here thinks he has a chance. That’s the way it should be. I know who I am and who I’m playing for. I hear my father’s words every day.’’