Well, with the off season well under way, there has been lots of noise from players being traded, signing new contracts and players moving cities. I think it has been one of the most exciting off seasons in anticipation of how things will move next year. On top of all of that, the summer league this year was quite intriguing as we watched players like Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr really step into stride. As always, some of the lucky few to play in these games are not so fortunate to show their real abilities and talents. This is just how it goes in the beautiful game of basketball that we all love and treasure so much.
I remember one of my first opportunities to play at a high and competitive level. I unfortunately didn’t show who or what type of player I was, although I was surrounded by some serious talent at the time. But, as the old tale of a young man from South Carolina goes, I used that experience as fuel to ignite a fire that still burns within me today.
As a young man who has been plagued with taking wrong opportunities, I can only imagine the real stresses of being on the right path to what all players see as eternal glory. It is often fabled that the young kid in the gym who works the hardest, gets knocked down by the older, gets up twice as fast, is the ‘lucky one’ from their neighbourhood and age group. But everyone has a different path. Sometimes they are a quiet achiever showing no emotion during their successes and failures. Sometimes they have always been on the path to stardom. Sometimes an overnight success. The only thing that really stays constant is the will and determination to progress, learn and bathe in said glories. No such thing as an overnight success in this business.
However, with every ‘next big thing’, comes hundreds and even thousands of players who thought they had what it took, but unfortunately walked away from the game for different reasons. Many enjoy basketball as a social platform and a way to stay fit while incorporating their passion, others stay on the grind but are content with where they are and don’t push themselves to go further. In some cases, players walk away due to the pressure from their parents and friends or maybe even for not fitting in with the other ‘normal’ players.
Regardless of where or how we start or finish our careers, we all travel a path not knowing exactly where we will end up.
It can be tough to really empathise and know what goes on in some of these rookie players’ heads. Some are from small towns and are suddenly in a big city. Not knowing where to go or whom to talk to. Even trying to adjust to the social side of things, thousands of people screaming their name for a chance they might get a photo or high five. There are always a few who have been on the radar since they were little. Child prodigies or phenoms as we call them. This is just the next, pre-determined step for them as they work towards a dream planted when they were little. Everyone is different, everyone has their story, but only some will find this to be their true calling.
For a select and lucky few, they are now on the biggest stage in the world, about to embark on the most exciting journey one could imagine. It all starts again from here and it’s time to get to work.
I can’t wait to see how this year will unfold with new faces in new places, and only time can really tell if each intricate decision has proved to be correct. Knowing how hard some of these guys have worked to get to where they are, only to be the little fish in the biggest pond once again. The 2017/2018 season awaits in a few short months and we will see who has what it takes to perform and excel in this lifestyle called basketball.
– Dan (The Baby Fro)