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...
JK: Safe haven. It was the place where I felt the most comfortable.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were to just shoot around?
JK: I would play in the rain. If there was any time where I felt that I could go out and play, rain or shine, I would go out and play.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
JK: Well, Magic Johnson was my basketball hero, because I enjoyed watching him play. He smiled all the time. He was having fun. I tried to pattern myself after him
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
JK: My first dunk. It was in practice in seventh grade. Being able to dunk surprised me. I kept trying and I finally got it. It was something that I'll never forget ... because I can't do it that much anymore.
Best piece basketball advice I received was...
JK: from my high school coach, to play hard. Any time you walk on the basketball court, to play as if it was your last game.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
JK: To dream, to work extremely hard. It just doesn't happen overnight. You have to be patient. Work extremely hard. Even if you get knocked down, or somebody says you can't do it, continue pushing forward.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
JK: Probably at 10 or 11. It was always on the Christmas list of what I wanted Santa to bring me. So, when my parents got it for me, I was very excited.
When did you realize you had serious game?
JK: People always talked about it when I was in high school, but it was when I first started playing against Gary Payton and Brian Shaw (in pick-up games at Cal or at my high school) when they were in the NBA. When I had a little success against those guys, that's when my confidence started to grow and I felt that I could be just as good, if not better than those guys.
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..."
JK: It's funny. I think a lot of times when you play, you get used to the big crowds and you sometimes take that for granted. But when you're playing in a hostile environment during the playoffs, that's when it maybe sticks out the most that you've made it. You can't believe that you're playing in front of so many people with so much at stake.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
JK: I think my mom is very excited to see that her son is living his dream. And my sisters, as much as you may fight with your brothers and sisters, are also very happy.