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...
MM: Growing up the basketball court was my home away from home. That's all I did. My dad was a principal, so I had the keys to the gym. That is where I stayed most of the time.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were just a shoot around?
MM: Well, I played outside in the snow in South Dakota. So I think that is about as extreme as it gets.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
MM: Larry Bird, I think he just got everything out of what he had. His abilities, he brought everything out of it. The stuff he did made players better, made his teammates better. It was fun to watch.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
MM: Probably, Michael Jordan, the shot that he made to beat Cleveland in the playoffs.
Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
MM: You get out what you put in. I think that is the whole key to basketball, how much work you put in is how successful you are going to be at the end.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
MM: Hard work, there are only so many people up here and it is for a reason. There are a lot of good basketball players that don't ever make it. So you have to make the right decisions and work hard.
How old were you when you received your first basketball?
MM: I was young, five or six years old. I was lucky I had two older brothers that played. So I played with them all the time.
When did you realize you had serious game?
MM: I didn't have serious game until my freshman year. I ended up on an AAU team and in a championship game I had a really good game. That is when I found it this something I could really do.
At what age did you entertain thoughts of playing in the NBA?
MM: It probably wasn't until I got to college. It was something I always wanted to do, but at the same time, you don't entertain it until you think it is possible. In college, my freshman year, I felt like I could make it.
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..."
MM: Absolutely, there have been plenty of times. It is a great feeling when you get that crowd going. It is a feeling you can't explain.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
MM: I think pretty proud. I hope so, at least.