Getting to the NBA is not easy. Of the millions of kids playing basketball around the world today, only a very small percentage will make it to the Association. Along the way, there will be highs and lows, ups and downs.
As they prepare for the 2007-08 season, 30 current players reflect back on their journey to the NBA and some of the things they went through to fulfill their dream of playing basketball for a living.
Finish this sentence: Growing up, the basketball court was my...
MC: Savior. Where I grew up, it was a real tough neighborhood. There were a lot of drugs and a lot gang violence going on around me. But on the basketball court I really found a place to concentrate on and not really have a lot of distractions.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were just a shoot around?
MC: I would go to great lengths. I remember as a little kid my mom wouldn't let me go to the big basketball courts because so much was going on around it. In the projects where we use to live, we had these clothes lines. I used to cut out the bottom of milk crates and hang them up on the clothes line to simulate that being a basketball court. And that is where a lot of me and my friends got out first chance playing basketball.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
MC: My favorite basketball hero of all time would have to be Dr. J. He is a fellow UMASS alum. He is a guy who I grew up watching on television. I use to always watch the 76ers games as much as I can. Even to this day we are good friends.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
MC: My favorite childhood basketball memory is probably on Christmas day when I was about four or five years old and I got my first basketball. I use to dribble the basketball a lot at my house and my mom use to always get upset with me because the bouncing the ball would be so loud. I was the only boy and I had two other sisters. I found something that was finally my own which was my basketball. So, probably that Christmas day.
Best piece of basketball advice I received was...
MC: The best advice I received was probably from my vice principle in high school who always taught me to not ever give up. To not follow your dreams but to chase your dreams, so that is pretty much what I have been doing ever since them.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
MC: I always tell them first and foremost, you have to hit the books. Without having an education behind you, they are not going to let you play on the basketball court, especially at the high school level or at the college level. You definitely have to hit the books first.
When did you realize you had serious game?
MC: I didn't really know probably until high school. Once I got the opportunity to get a scholarship to go play college basketball, I knew I was headed on the right path and that if I stuck with these plans I could become something.
Did it ever strike you in the middle of a game in front of a packed house, "Man, I can't believe I'm here..."
MC: Everyday. Everyday when I come in here and I look around that locker room, I see guys like Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson and all these great players that we have on our team, it is like I'm almost dreaming again and I treasure each day.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
MC: My family is extremely proud of me. I didn't grow up with a lot of things in life but with a chance to play in the NBA, I was able to give back to my family a lot, and they are definitely appreciative. Even to this day, they always make sure they watch every Nuggets game.