Flush your Dreams down the toilet …it’ll be tough BUT FLUSH ’em!
Remember your dreams, then FLUSH ’em! First, you have to understand what’s…
Possible and Probable
These 2 words mean 2 very different things. Let’s take what they both mean.
- able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or something.
- a person or thing that has the potential to become or do something,
Ability or Potential. That’s what I take it to mean.
- likely to be the case or to happen.
- a person who is likely to become or do something
I take this to mean – Likelihood of occurrence.
Take my Dream – My HOOP DREAM
I had dreams of heading to the NBA. I was 13 years old when Kobe Bryant was drafted into the NBA out of high school. Kobe was a true HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR. He didn’t repeat any grades, he was not a 4th-year sophomore. He was a skinny kid that seemed to have a lot of determination and grit. He made it. Why couldn’t I…I said to myself?!
I was a 13-year-old 8th grader, It was 1997, and I had 4 years to PREPARE FOR MY THE NBA DEBUT and LONG CAREER.
To me, this was more than just a POSSIBILITY. It was a foregone conclusion. So, I then proceeded to take basketball very very seriously.
All the things I had!
- A GOAL – Reach THE NBA
- A BASKETBALL – To play with
- CHECK, CHECK!
- A COURT – Behind my apartment complex where I could practice.
- CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!
- CHECK! CHECK! TOO MANY CHECKS!
I had everything necessary to get to the NBA. I had EVERYTHING KOBE HAD. So my destination was a foregone conclusion as far as I was concerned. I could see it happening, I’d be beating off the offers for college scholarship like Kobe was in 4 short years.
I was a smart kid, so I knew I could go to college on either an academic scholarship or an athletic one as I honed my skills. I’d DOMINATE those kids and raise my draft stock and be selected higher than KOBE BRYANT.
He was the 13th pick for God’s sake! As great as he was, he was the 12th RUNNER UP, as far as I was concerned. So, as far as I knew there was just that much more determination and drive that the Number 1 Draft pick ALLEN IVERSON had that Kobe must have been missing.
I could make up for that with my stick-to-it-ive-ness, drive, and determination.
THE NBA – TOTALLY POSSIBLE
What I didn’t have…
Parents that would support me…#crymeariver
See, at that time they were going through a messy and lengthy divorce. The turmoil began when I was about 11, and the catastrophe that was distress immersed in many court dates with unresolved outcomes, went into my 20’s if memory serves. Kobe had a father that was a former basketball player and who trained, helped, and guided him along since he was very young.
Kobe’s 6’7” Frame
I was a meager 5’7” at that time, I eventually shot up to a towering 5’11”. So Don’t be fooled I’m still a giant amongst most men, that average 5’8” – 5’9”!
There were recreational, travel, and AAU basketball teams that were around when I was growing up. WHAT ARE THOSE?! I had no idea how BAD, most recreational basketball players were, and how important it was to play on the AAU or travel basketball circuit. I was only a rec player initially, a rec player that didn’t know there were ‘other’ levels.
Attempting to dominate the outdoor basketball courts, SHOUT OUT TO OLD COURT MIDDLE SCHOOL, wouldn’t really get me anywhere. I needed to play on teams and for coaches that could give me more visibility.
Trainers/Coaches in any endeavor help you accelerate your growth faster than someone attempting to figure things out on their own.
And I…was on my own.
Someone to tell me the truth about it all.
Maybe I should have heard the truth about my size, and not the outlier story of the 5’3” tall Mugsy Bogues that was the starting point guard for the Charlotte Hornets! Mugsy was a crazy athlete and a great player. He was from Baltimore just like me, but he was really REALLY good, and I really REALLY wasn’t.
It was HIGHLY IMPROBABLE, that the road I’d chosen would lead me to the NBA. This road was UPHILL in BOTH directions.
What did I do Ultimately?
I Wasted Time…
Time – The most precious resource I can never get back, I wasted it. For the next 6 years, I went on to improve my basketball skills before I gave it up for health reasons.
*I talk about that in my What my Tumor Taught Me Video Here*
I needed someone to see the gifts I DID have and help me cultivate the gifts I did have. I would have been much happier, much more fulfilled, and a more well-rounded kid.
I Really Improved as a Player
Yeah, it’s not all bad. I really improved as a player. I mean I REALLY IMPROVED. It was pretty much all on my own. I taught myself how to shoot. I did this by studying other players, that were much better shooters than I was, and I changed my basketball form several times before perfecting it.
I learned so many basketball-related and basketball-UNrelated lessons from the game of basketball. So much that I eventually went on to coach high school basketball, and help other students gain the much-needed exposure I wasn’t able to gain on my own as a kid.
6 of my student-athletes were actually being recruited. Some of my freshmen weren’t very good players when we initially met. When some of these players reached their senior year, they were being actively recruited. I didn’t know how any of that was supposed to work, but they were on the watch lists for ACTUAL COLLEGES. Something I’d never experienced. It only motivated me to do better, FOR THEM.
Ham, Drew, Mark, Michael, Jake A., Wayne.
I had something to do with that. The other players on the team, had a lot to do with that. These kids were together for much of their high school basketball careers, and what they helped me build really helped the entire team grow.
Special Thanks to the rest of the roster: Max, Phil, Jake M., Randy, Seth D., Reid, Francis, Idris, and Seth G. (Graduated earlier, but maximum influence).
Receiving calls from smaller schools, and mid-majors was a good feeling, but when I got a call from the University of Buffalo, I was floored. Vindicated.
I knew what I was doing.
I wasn’t brilliant…I just worked hard, studied, tried my best, and consistently made myself available for my student-athletes.
Maybe things didn’t work out for me and my hoop dreams, but I ultimately learned that maybe…with a few more tools and some outside help…things could have been different for me.
My College Career
“Wow, you are good. What high school did you go to?”
“What do you mean you didn’t play in high school?”
Those were a lot of the types of comments I heard during my Junior College walk-on tryout. I didn’t know what to make of it, but the other players did.
I WAS GOOD ENOUGH – and they noticed. Even though I didn’t.
I knew – and I think that was what that journey must have been about.
I didn’t have the parents, teachers, or coaches I should have had. I didn’t have any guidance. So, I had to do what Dr. Indiana Jones did, or Nick Cage in National Treasure. I had to figure it out as I went along. That was probably one of the best things that could have come from all of that time I’d spent chasing my HOOP DREAMS instead of flushing them down the toilet.
My big take away from life is, WE CHOOSE WHAT WE SEE. There’s plenty that you can do, and look at, that could make you see your life’s glass as half empty.
That’s tough, and I’m sure that’s how many people MIGHT find themselves depressed, anxious or struggling with some aspects of life, but there are many things we can learn from our “failures”.
I guess, thanks to my NBA goal, I had an escape from what my life was at that time. My parents were embroiled in a divorce battle, with no time for me and my problems. Had it not been for my HOOP DREAM, although very POSSIBLE to attain, it was a HIGHLY IMPROBABLE endeavor that had I not pursued I would not have been able to meet so many great kids, and families with whom I’ve formed what I feel are some very deep, positive, and hopefully lifelong relationships with.
Just for context, I coached these kids when they were about 14 years old, and I was 22…or something like that. Fast Forward to today and they’ve all graduated from college, are starting their lives, and we’ve stayed connected over all of these years. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.
Had it not been for the pursuit of my ridiculous hoop dream, all of these positive experiences wouldn’t be in my story.
Thanks, HOOP DREAM. I’m glad that I wasn’t smart enough to wake up from you when I should have.