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...
BR: It was my home (laughs). It was my second home.
To what lengths would you go for a chance to play basketball, even if it were to just to shoot around?
BR: I would do anything to get on the basketball court. And that is a problem I am facing now, just being injured, it is hard because people tell me to just rest. But it is so hard to watch people play and not be able to be out there. So I would just do anything to be able to be back on the court.
Who was your basketball hero and why?
BR: My basketball hero growing up was Michael Jordan. Just because growing up watching him play, he was just an ultimate winner. And I think any kid growing up in his era would have to say he was probably the greatest basketball player ever. He was just so great on the court. There were so many different things he could do. He could post up, he could shoot. I just tried to do things like him as I got older playing basketball.
What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
BR: I have to say when I was in probably eighth grade and we went to Las Vegas for a national tournament and we won the championship. That was a pretty big memory because I was MVP of the whole tournament. So not only did we win a championship, but I was also MVP. It was pretty big to be only in eighth grade. I thought that was a big step in my career.
Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
BR: Coach told me around that same time where I was starting to develop my game, he just said, "make sure you go out there and play every game with a purpose." And after that, that is what I tried to do every time I stepped on the floor, just try to go out there and play with a purpose and play to win. I think that was probably some of the best advice I ever received.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
BR: I would just say follow your dream. If your dream is to play in the NBA, that means you have to go out and you have to work on your game all the time. And don't work just on one area of your game, work on a number of things to make you better. I think the dream is possible as long as your work and develop your game every year.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
BR: I think I was about 6 or 7 and I had an older brother and I would always play with his ball, all his basketballs. And then I got to the age where I kind of wanted my own. I finally was able to get mine, and from that moment I think I was stuck on the game of basketball. Because everyday I would go outside and play basketball no matter if it was rain, snow or whatever. I would try and make sure I was outside working on my game.
When did you realize you had serious game?
BR: I think when I realized I had serious game I was around I think my eighth grade summer going into my ninth grade year. I realized I was a pretty good basketball 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..."
BR: Yeah, everyday (laughs), everyday I go out there and play or everyday I hear a newspaper say my name I am like man I can't believe I made it because making it to the NBA, it's tough. One in a million players do it. And everyday I just try to thank the lord for my blessings, because it is a blessing to make it to this level.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
BR: They are extremely proud. My dad played basketball but he didn't go anywhere past high school. I think everybody that I have grown up around, they are like "man you made it, you made it to the NBA." I accomplished a dream that they maybe thought was a little far fetched. They are just unbelievably proud of me. I am just happy to be able to go out there and represent my parents.