Paul Reed read The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure during his stint in the NBA G League Bubble earlier this year. The book conveyed the divide between people stating or writing down their goals and actually realizing them, emphasizing how much work is required to bridge that gap.
In response, Reed embraced journaling, which helped him establish and adhere to a daily routine. The goal was to stimulate him spiritually, physically, and mentally, facilitating the manifestation of his two overarching objectives from the Bubble: Win G League MVP and the G League championship. In 15 games with the Delaware Blue Coats, Reed, a rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers, accomplished the former, averaging 22.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.9 blocks on 65.9 percent true shooting.
The tasks scribbled down in his journal gave him a daily sense of structure. Every morning began with prayer — Reed says he’s “always been a spiritual person” but connected more intimately that side of himself after being baptized last year. He’d then fire up YouTube for a core workout from Chris Heria’s “Get Shredded” plan, followed by conditioning exercises.
“My neighbors in the Bubble, they used to hear me like early in the morning,” Reed told Dime. “They used to be like, ‘What are you doing? You’re up early, making all that noise.’ But I was getting it out the mud, doing that ugly work.”
If there is one thing you need to know about Reed, it is that he carries a mindset and a mantra alongside him in his NBA journey: Fearless and Out The Mud. He will not be scared of anyone or anything, nor will he ever shy away from the grind and everything it encapsulates, particularly the unglamorous aspects that can make it easy to cut corners.
It’s why a G League MVP and title — the individual and collective apex of this season’s Bubble — were his goals as a rookie. It’s why every day is filled with a combination of core, leg, chest, and conditioning exercises, as well as prayer, meditation, reading, Bible study, and film sessions, the last of which is accompanied by diligent note-taking. It’s why he sought to complete 200 push-ups every day inside the Bubble.
Reed is transparent: He didn’t check off every task in his journal every day — “I was doing most stuff,” he’s quick to stress. But getting every single thing done wasn’t his main objective. He wanted to hold himself accountable and track his progress, at least ensuring he was reinforcing his words with definitive action and expecting more out of himself than anyone else.
“You gotta get out the mud. You ain’t gonna have nobody giving it to you,” Reed says. “And it’s like you gotta go and do some dirty work for it, some work work. It’s not going to be fun, but it’s going to be like ugly. That’s the reality. That’s what some of us got to do to achieve our goals. Do that dirty work, that ugly work that nobody wanna do.”
Those 15 games inside the Bubble provided Reed the opportunity to alert people of his basketball talents — “I feel like a lot of people didn’t know that I was actually good,” he says — while also reinforcing his self-confidence. In the times he’s seen the floor with the Sixers since returning from the G League, he’s visibly more confident in his own abilities.
The challenge for Reed, beyond the imposing duty of acclimating to the gap in competition level between the NBA and G League, is tailoring his game to fit what Philadelphia asks of him. With the Blue Coats, he was the offensive centerpiece, playing 31.5 minutes a night, launching 16.3 shots and averaging 22.3 points per game. With the Sixers, he is expected to embody the responsibilities of a role player, where he focuses on defensive communication and positioning — particularly in pick-and-roll coverage — while setting rugged screens and balancing discretion and aggression as a scorer.
“I try to make sure that I do anything I can to help us win, or making sure we do better when I’m in than when I’m out, just making sure I’m making a positive impact on the game. It’s an adjustment, for sure, (from) being the focal point on offense,” Reed says. “Now, you’re with the team, with everybody that can score and that’s good, so you gotta be more of a team player. I think that’s what (Sixers coach) Doc (Rivers) is looking for in me.”
His Sixers tenure has seen him bond with a bevy of veterans and team leaders. Tobias Harris advises him on how to handle money and connects him with the proper people or resources for further help. Mike Scott pays for his haircuts. Danny Green takes him shopping. Dwight Howard teaches him the ropes of life on the road and how to manage time. He and Ben Simmons often eat out together — specifically at their go-to spot, Steak 48 — and the former No. 1 pick enlightens Reed on how to stay discreet in public areas.
“That’s my guy,” Reed says of Simmons. “All the vets are just looking out for me.”
After Philadelphia’s first preseason game back in December, Reed tweeted, “Finna have to get it out the mud again.” The tweet exploded, garnering over 1,600 likes and an outpouring of responses from Sixers supporters. It laid the groundwork for Reed to become a folk hero among the fanbase. His nickname, “BBall Paul,” a reference to his Twitter handle, is the primary way people refer to him.
The Sixers’ TV broadcast duo of Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby call him Bball Paul, as does public address announcer Matt Cord. Despite playing fewer than 200 minutes during the regular season, Reed is carving out a niche within the organization and among Philly’s famously rabid fanbase.
“It gives me a boost of confidence, knowing that the fans like me. It’s a great feeling. I’m just grateful to play for a city that has fans that are so in tune with the teams,” he says. “It caught me off guard. I ain’t think that me tweeting ‘Finna get it out the mud again’ was gonna catch so many people’s attention.”
As a means of bonding with the Sixers community and expanding his personal brand, Reed launched an Out The Mud apparel line through PWRFWD to supplement his Fearless line of merchandise. PWRFWD collaborates with fellow professional athletes such as WNBA superstars A’Ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, and Liz Cambage, along with NBA peers like Duncan Robinson and Mo Bamba. The intention is “empowering athletes to connect with fans on a deeper level through their own custom-made products.”
That’s the entire inspiration for Reed: sharing his Fearless mindset and Out The Mud mantra with the general population. He will always carry those creeds throughout his basketball journey and PWRFWD is a platform to publicize them.
He says the Out The Mud slides are his favorite item, but the chance to select one favorite became two favorites and then three favorites — because no look is complete without coordination.
“Get you some Out The Mud slides,” he says. “And then, Out The Mud hoodie. … The Out The Mud socks are hard, too.”
Of course, with Reed, everything is always about getting out the mud.