My Amazing Journey -- Emeka Okafor

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.


What was the biggest obstacle you overcame to reach the NBA?
Emeka Okafor:
I guess just doubt, just having to believe, not necessarily having the most pub behind my name but just working hard nonetheless and just believing in myself and going. Nothing traumatic ever happened to me physically. Just that people doubted whether or not I could do it.

Finish this sentence…Growing up, the basketball court was my...
EO:
The basketball court was my playground.

To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were just a shoot around?
EO:
Houston was pretty hot. During the summer time, it was super hot. When I was younger I had to practice outside in the heat.

Who was your basketball hero and why?
EO:
Hakeem Olajuwon, he was a Houston Rocket, two-time champion, he was Nigerian and I am Nigerian.

What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
EO:
When the Rockets won that first championship.

Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
EO:
You just have to be patient. You have to let things develop. You can never be in a rush.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
EO:
Work hard and have patience.

How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
EO:
I guess I was like nine or so. It was cool, I mean I was a kid to get anything was great.

When did you realize you had serious game?
EO:
When I was 17, my junior year when I was trying to go to college. I was in the AAU circuit and I started getting letters from colleges. So I was like alright let's do 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…"
EO:
Man, sometimes I still feel that way. That never goes away.

How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
EO:
They are proud. With me, it is expected. It is not like it came out of nowhere. They knew what kind of person I was.

"The basketball court was my playground."
"The basketball court was my playground."