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..."
SN: It was my outlet, to challenge myself and to be creative.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were to just to shoot around?
SN: I don't know what kind of lengths, but I definitely would find a way to shoot everyday. No matter what I would find a way. I don't know to what lengths I would go to.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
SN: My heroes were Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson. I think they were just so competitive and creative. Especially Isiah, he was somebody that wasn't very tall. He had played the game mostly on the floor and it made me feel that I could find a way to do the same.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
SN: All my favorite memories as a kid playing basketball were just playing with my friends, playing one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three with my school friends that were on my team. They were my best friends. We played everyday. Those are my favorite memories.
Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
SN: One very valuable piece of advice an ex National Team player in Canada, who was a last cut on a couple NBA teams, told me when I was going into 12th grade that I should decide and make it a goal that I want to play in the NBA. Decide that day and it make it a goal that I am going to play in the NBA. I think me deciding instead of just going to college and seeing if I could make it, deciding that day that I was going to college and then making the NBA, I think it helped manifest those thoughts.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
SN: I think you have to work extremely hard. You have to be creative and you have to make it fun. You have to be creative enough to expand your game. But you also have to be creative enough to find new ways to inspire yourself and make it enjoyable so you do want to get out there everyday and work hard and find a way to do more and more and more. And continue to push the envelope with how hard you work and how you can separate yourself from all the other players.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
SN: I started playing basketball when I was 12 or 13. So I must have been 13 when I got my first ball. It felt good. It felt like a new friend.
When did you realize you had serious game?
SN: I was pretty good right away because when you are 12 or 13 it is more about what other sports you've played. If you are good at other sports you can translate it easily to any sport at that age. I realized when I was about 13 or 14 that I had a chance to be a really good player.
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... "
SN: Not so much now in the games, but every once in a while, more and more rarely, but every once in while, I will realize how far I have come and that will be enough to shake my head at what is my reality now-a-days, as opposed to dreaming of this reality as a kid and it seeming so far away.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
SN: I think they are really proud. I think they realize how hard I worked. They saw me going out there and shooting all hours of the days and night, shooting in the rain, dribbling in the garage. They realize how much time I put into it. I think that they are proud not so much that I made it but more because they know it took a lot of hard work.