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... "
JS: Life (laughs). It was kind of a year round thing with me. AAU to high school and back all over again.
Growing up, what would you have done to play on a basketball playground even if it was just to shoot around?
JS: Try to go to all lengths. Traveling to find good competition.
Did you have a basketball hero as a kid and why that person?
JS: Michael Jordan. I feel like that's everybody's. To watch Chicago play, you know Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Scottie Pippen, all of those guys, but it had to be MJ because he was the leader of his team. He carried his team to win multiple rings. He was just an idol to me. I wanted to try to play like him, but I kind of outgrew myself.
What was your favorite childhood basketball memory?
JS: When I played at 8 years old for the Tigers, going undefeated and winning the whole thing (laughs). That was my favorite childhood memory.
Any one give you basketball advice that you thought was particularly compelling?
JS: Just to be professional in everything that I do. [When] you're looked at in the public eye, some people look up to you, so just to be professional in whatever you do.
What advice would give you someone who wants to play in the NBA?
JS: They say there is a slim chance to make it, but I feel like if you have athletic ability and you work hard, just don't give up on your dream. I think you can do it.
How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
JS: I didn't have my very own ball, I always used to just take them (laughs). I would just dribble it around. When I had my first basketball, I forgot how old I was but it felt real good man.
When did you realize that you had serious game?
JS: Probably when I was in 10th grade, going into 11th grade. I played in the ABCD camp and I was ballin' out. I was playing real good, I even impressed myself on some of the things I was doing. Kind of knew it from there.
Did it ever strike in the middle of the game playing in a packed house that "Man, I am actually here"?
JS: Yeah, it did. It had to be when I was playing against Allen Iverson. I grew up liking him and loving watching him play so. I didn't get any playing time, but I was like "Could I please play?". It was in Atlanta, a sold out crowd. I was a rookie, I was just sitting on the bench like there he is, there's Allen Iverson.
Lastly, how proud is your family of that you made it to the NBA?
JS: They're real proud. My dad tells me almost everyday that he's real proud of me. They knew I could do it and they never gave up on me. We're still close, everybody's still close. So they were extremely proud of me.