Draft is culmination of personal journeys
Lost in Emotion
NEW YORK, June 27 -- The difference between the sixth and seventh choices in the 2005 NBA Draft may be just one pick, but it's also the difference between living in Salt Lake City, Utah and Toronto, Canada. Welcome to the uncertainty of this year's NBA talent grab, where the course of 60 young men's lives will be set into motion Tuesday night.
"I think thatís the scary part to be honest with you," said North Carolina forward Marvin Williams. "You have no input on where youíre going to go."
At least Williams is considered a near lock to be a top-three pick. He's likely looking at Milwaukee, Atlanta or Portland as his next destination. For other players, the number of possibilities is far greater.
"I could be a couple of hours from home or I could be on the West Coast, at the other ocean," said Syracuse forward and Philadelphia native Hakim Warrick, a candidate to be drafted by the Knicks at No. 8.
"Your family is asking questions," added Texas A&M forward Antoine Wright. "You don't know how far you'll be from them. I'm probably the most nervous guy here because I've been slotted in so many places."
Given everything that's at stake in the draft, it's easy to understand why a mix of nervousness and excitement presided over the 16 lottery candidates and draft attendees present at Monday's media availability session.
Getting selected by an NBA team is a validation of all the moments of hard work a prospect has ever invested into his career. Jump shots on driveways and free throws in the empty gyms aren't televised, but they are as much of a part of making "The League" as the glitz and glamour of the NCAA Tournament or McDonald's All-American game.
"For anyone who's ever played basketball, their dream is to play in the NBA," said New Mexico forward Danny Granger. "Now that moment is right before us, it is breath taking that we're so close and that we'll be drafted tomorrow."
"Sometimes I just sit and daze off," said North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton. "Am I going to wake up one day? Is this really true? Is this really happening to me right now? Coming from a small town, I always dreamed about this, but never really thought it would happen.
"But dreams come true. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish what you want to accomplish."
Each prospect mentioned their unique way of dealing with the anxiety. High school swingman Gerald Green leans on his family for support. Arizona forward Channing Frye relies on God for the same. Every draft attendee, however, spoke of finding solace in being around the others.
"The guys that are with me are in the same situation," said Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul. "I've just been hanging out with them, talking, having fun and trying to remain as calm as possible."
When the moment of truth arrives, and Paul and his peers finally do hear their names called Tuesday night, that anxiousness will turn into joy. But, since this moment will be televised, one can't afford to get swept away by the emotion.
"I know my mom is going to cry, and that's going to make me a little teary eyed, but I'm going to try to hold it," said Felton. "I don't want to be crying on national TV."
Notes: Among the best quotes at the media availability session was Green, the 18-year-old prep swingman from Houston. At 6-8, Green has great size in the backcourt, but his 200-pound frame makes it questionable as to whether he can compete at the small forward position.
When asked what he's doing to add muscle to play at the professional level, Green said, "I'm eating. I'm eating a lot. I'm eating everything I can. I might go to a farm and eat a cow whole." ...
Unanimously, player personnel officials and agents alike have called this draft one of the most unpredictable ever. Not only is there not a clear idea as to how the lottery will shake out, but many observers are saying the player chosen in the second round could end up being just as good as any one in the first round because of the depth of talent available.
"A fun draft, this will be," said an Eastern Conference scout. Ö
The age limit in the new collective bargaining agreement was a topic of discussion as the draft's media availability session. Generally, players supported the idea of United States prospects having to compete for one season following high school graduation at a level other than the NBA.
"One year of college will definitely help a lot of players if they decide to come out after their first year," said Williams, who spent a year at North Carolina before entering the draft. "It will make the league a lot better because guys will come in more experienced and the league will be a lot better."
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