The NBA draft is here. 60 players will have their names called. It’s a time for young men who have worked and grown their entire lives for this moment to enjoy with family and friends. It can be different.
Put yourself in the seat of the draft picks. DeAndre Ayton is probably going to be the first pick of the draft. Thats easy. Then the second pick comes and goes. The third. Around the tenth pick stress will start to set in. The fun of evening is going away. You start to feel like you should have went higher. Family and friends start to ask why questions as to why you haven’t gotten been chosen. Text messages start to roll in. The phone starts to ring. The idea and embarrassment of possibly left in the green room makes you feel small in the $3000 suit that your agent has paid for you to wear on this special day. You’ll get a bill for that. You start to think about all of the team executives you met on interviews promised they would take you if you were available when they picked. One of those executives just chose a foreign kid you didn’t know existed. Your devastated. Your starting to second guess signing with the agency you chose. Someone tells you to be strong. You reply with an uncomfortable tight smile. There is five minutes between each pick. It seem like an eternity. Your high school sweetheart is gripping your hand under table. She knows her future is in the balance as well. Finally your chosen with the 22nd pick. The burden is lifted. You made it into the first round and have guaranteed money for at least two years. You are still upset. You vow to score 30 on the teams that past on you.
“Put yourself in the seat of these draft picks.”
But what about the people that are drafted in the second round? Sitting at home on the couch with their families. Nothing is guaranteed if you get picked. After going to 10-12 interviews whether you want to admit it or not, there is a huge difference between college and pro talent. You know that these guys are better than you. Just being drafted is goal, even if you have to fight your way on to a roster in training camp. Not impossible but highly improbable. Most teams only keep their first round picks and the rest of the roster is usually close to set with returning players and free agency. With this teams take European players and stash them with the idea of saving money now and getting a player later. Sometimes these players never come over. You don’t even realize that you will probably spend more time abroad than in the US, playing with and against these very players.
You don’t even hear your name called because you were standing outside crying because you needed some air. No fan fair. Just a few calls come through. Next, the team calls your phone. They know you’re broken up. They tell you that they are happy to have you and that a flight has been book for you to fly out for media day.
The most important thing to remember is that its the first day of the rest of your career. Its the beginning of the journey. There is a lot of opportunity for you to grow. You may play for 10 years in the NBA. You may play not play one day in the league and spend your entire career playing abroad. The rest of the story is yours to write.