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...
JC: It was my fun place. I loved playing. It was my fun place.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were just a shoot around?
JC: I was very fortunate growing up. Not only did I have a twin brother who is also in the league, but the two of us had a neighbor up the street that had a basketball hoop attached to his garage. So any moment we had free that we weren't studying, we went and played basketball and shot on our neighbor's garage. Unfortunately for my neighbor's parents we would go shoot at like 8:00 in the morning.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
JC: I grew up in Los Angeles during Showtime and Magic Johnson was my hero. He was the leader of Showtime and almost the leader of L.A. during his era. I admired him and still admire him to this day.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
JC: When I was in elementary school, I think I scored about 36 points. It was one of those things where I was just playing the game. I was just running up and down, scoring. We were just playing and I would say around the fourth quarter the coach took me out. I looked at him and was like "why are you taking me out?" And he was like "Well, Jarron we are up by 20 and you have 36." That was where I learned about sportsmanship at the same time. I didn't realize how we were blowing them out and I was doing well but also I didn't need to be in the game in the end.
Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
JC: Actually I think that was at a camp. When I was a kid in high school I went to the NBA Players Association Camp. They told us there that no matter where you go in the world, no matter how many games you play, there is always someone better than you. So how are you going to do when you meet that player that is better than you? So that is why I tell kids, as good as you are now in your area, there is always someone better than you. If you are on the national level, as good as you are in this nation, there is always someone better than you. So you have to train and prepare yourself, so when you meet that player you will be able to beat them.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
JC: Along the same lines, the guys are so good now in the international game that you have to be the best and work to be the best at all times. Work on your fundamentals, they are going to give you an advantage. Work on your shooting, your defense and everything that goes into being a basketball player. And know that it is an international game, so the competition has got much tougher.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
JC: I was a little kid. I don't even know, maybe 7 or 8, 7 years-old probably. It was very cool. If I remember correctly I had to share it with my brother. So, we both took care of it.
When did you realize you had serious game?
JC: I would say when I was around 11 or 12 years-old. My brother and I, we were both about 6'4 and we realized we were going to be big, tall kids and we had talent. We were on an AAU team that was pretty good and we were getting some recognition at that young of an age. We realized we were going to be pretty good. So it was just a matter of working to achieve our goals.
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... "
JC: Not in the middle of a game. I would say right before I checked in I had that experience. My freshman year in college we went to the Final Four. We were in old San Antonio Alamodome, so it was like 30-35,000 people in this place. And right before I checked in the game and I am looking around and all you see is a sea of the school colors, a sea of blue, a sea of red. We were playing Kentucky and Stanford (Collins played for Stanford) and just the colors of the fans, it was just wild. "I am really playing in the Final Four as a freshman." I thought I would get back to that moment, which I never did.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
JC: My family is extremely proud of both of us. It is very unique to have two siblings, to have two twins that are in the NBA. My family is very proud of the accomplishments and the efforts of my brother and myself.