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...
CM: It was like my church. I started later than everybody else.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were just a shoot around?
CM: I used to catch three or four buses just to get a good pick up, a good run. It was definitely worth it. I had a lot of catching up to do. I started playing basketball at 13, while other guys started at 7 or 8 years old. I was boxing and playing football. At first basketball wasn't really my forte.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
CM: I use to watch the Pistons and the Lakers and the Bulls and all those guys. I really didn't have one hero. I just loved the way everyone played. I guess the older I got, I started to become in love with Michael, Scottie, Magic and all those guys. Then I just started to love all around players like Grant Hill, Scottie Pippen and guys like that.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
CM: I was suspended for a while, for about 8 games, and our school was 2-6. We came back, made the playoffs and I hit the winning shot to put us in the playoffs. I was about 16 years old.
The best piece of basketball advice you ever received was...
CM: Just keep trying. Play your hardest. Work hard and whatever you do putting into it you are going to have coming out of it. A lot of guys told me just to play hard.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
CM: Just be consistent. There is a difference between loving it and wanting what comes with it. What comes with it is the money and the fame and all that. But if you love it you will play for free. If you love it nobody can tell you anything different.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
CM: About 14 years old. It was just good. You just sleep with it and keep it with you all the time. You go to the play ground and if someone shoots with it you make sure you have your eye on it.
When did you realize you had serious game?
CM: Probably at about 16 years old. I made the future All-Stars team. We were about 15 or 16 years old and I made the team with other guys who had been playing for a long time.
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…"
CM: Oh yes, it has been like that a whole bunch of times. It happens to this day. My situation is I still feel like a kid in a candy store. You are surrounded around other elite players and it is just fun.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
CM: They are very proud. Being that I am the first graduate from college and a successful person it makes your mom and dad feel really good, as well as your brothers, your siblings. I have a son that is seven and he loves it also.