There are moments so big that you can’t really prepare yourself for them. And in the aftermath, the meaning is so immense it can be tough to grasp as reality.
That was the otherworldly experience of Dzanan Musa last week in the 24 hours that changed his life.
“I cannot describe it, that feeling when the camera was on me for 10 or 15 seconds before they called my name,” said Musa. “I was starting to cry. That passion I have for basketball, I was good all night. I was good all night. And I thought I had some information that probably Brooklyn would pick me, but I didn’t realize until that moment, when they put the cameras on me, I was starting to cry. I saw my mother, next to me, and she also cried. That was a really emotional time for me and I think that’s the best night of my entire life.”
And then the whirlwind really commenced for the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick. Up on stage to be greeted by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. A round of interviews on the floor at Barclays Center and then more backstage. Photo shoots. Social media stations.
The next morning, off to HSS Training Center for an introductory press conference, flanked by general manager Sean Marks and fellow draft pick Rodions Kurucs. Musa was confident, composed, funny, and a little bit charming. Truthfully, he was still trying to wrap his head around the whole thing.
“I was very confused on Friday,” said Musa. “It was a very emotional time for me. I was very excited. I didn’t realize that I’m going to play in the NBA. In the country where I’m from, the NBA’s far away and it’s the dream of every kid. If I’m in this position I’m truly blessed.”
Then it was time to get to work, and to start putting his new life in order.
He was back in the gym with Nets coaches on Sunday morning, and working out every day since. Precor workouts. On-court basketball sessions. Weight room work. His new basketball home made a big early impression.
“Just when you go inside that court and you look at that view, that’s really, really impressive,” said Musa. “I think that this is one of the best, if not the best, facilities in the NBA because I went to five or six spots for workouts and this is really impressive.”
There’s also been the matter of finding an off-the-court home. When Musa arrived for pre-draft workouts and meetings, it was his first time in the United States. He is still in discovery mode.
“I didn’t realize that Brooklyn is this big,” said Musa. “I thought Brooklyn is like a little small place around New York and that’s it, but this is huge.”
He’s toured neighborhoods and homes, narrowing down his options, but hasn’t decided yet. One thing the 19-year-old from Bosnia and Herzegovina is looking forward to as he adjusts to living in a new country is having his brother, Dzennis, along with him. He’s been on his own for eight years, chasing that NBA dream.
“I’ve lived alone since I was 11,” said Musa. “So I’m done with living alone. When you come into the apartment and you’re all by yourself, I’m too young to get married obviously. But you have to have someone around to just talk to. Especially when you have my brother who I can trust all the time and his wife who is like a sister to me. And I think that’s truly blessed.”
Together, he and Dzennis have started to explore the city, checking out restaurants and getting a feel for getting around. Musa has met most of his veteran teammates as they filter through HSS Training Center for their own workouts and has quickly connected with point guard D’Angelo Russell, who invited him to his home to get acquainted.
“I’m the rookie,” said Musa. “That was a really nice gesture from him.”
The last week has represented the end of one journey and the start of another for Musa. He is, as he realized to his own amazement last Friday, an NBA player. As he completed his final season for Cedevita in Croatia and visited a half-dozen teams in less than three weeks leading up to the draft, he didn’t know where that would be. He had met with a Nets contingent in Treviso and then again in Brooklyn the day before the draft.
“I didn’t realize that I’m going to end up with the Brooklyn Nets to be honest,” said Musa. “I didn’t even do a workout with them. I went to the gym and did some measurements and stuff like that. But it was nothing special. And they picked me. I think that’s destiny.”