Welcome to the NBA, rookie.
Now the real fun begins.
Since adolescence you’ve been dreaming of fulfilling this aspiration, and now here we are. The NBA Draft.
You’ll most likely be looking debonair while others will don disastrous looks, but don’t worry about that because you won’t be the one reeking of rue when you reflect on things 10, 15, 20 years from now.
If you are fortunate enough to be invited to the “Green Room,” you will be flanked by family, friends and those that proved to be contributory in the materialization of this dream.
When your name is called by Commissioner Adam Silver, you’ll convey your emotions through a series of hugs, kisses and handshakes with the folks that share your exhilaration.
You’ll then stand erect, be given a hat that bears your new teams logo, and then you’ll trek across the stage to shake the Commissioner’s hand and hold up your new squads jersey as you gaze into the crowd, vision partially impaired thanks to the blinding lights dancing from the camera’s of the shutterbugs tasked with snapping shots of this special night.
It may seem like an eternity, but this all transpires very quickly.
Afterwards, you’ll slog off the stage as it’s time for one of your cohorts to enjoy the same fortunes. Meanwhile you’ll brace yourself for the cascade of praise that’s so forceful it could transport this newly-minted NBA player to the city he’s slated to play in.
You’ll converse with reporters about how you’ve toiled in the weight room, on the court and off of it over the last few years in hopes of this ambition coming to fruition, and then you’ll have a brief chat (most likely via telephone), with some team officials, whose verbiage will be peppered with excitement as they’ve snagged their “guy.”
Of course there will be a celebration, just of varying degrees. Some may elect to spend a calm evening with their kin, while others will spurn tranquility in lieu of a night of fun.
But like I said before, now the real fun begins.
For a guy like Ben Simmons, whose vocation will now be to help a desolate Philadelphia 76ers franchise resurface to relevance after they’ve been sitting idly in the league’s cellar for the past few seasons. The City of Philadelphia is starved for a superstar, and Simmons’ potential to develop into that has them enamored, but can Simmons not only suffice, but survive in a sports town as merciless as Philly?
It’s also fair to ask the same in regards to 18-year-old Duke Blue Devils standout Brandon Ingram, as he packs a powerful scoring punch but his slender frame has some wondering if he can handle the physicality that is prevalent in the NBA. Just as Simmons, Ingram is expected to help one of the Association’s most historic franchises reach their zenith again.
Can Ingram handle the immense pressure that not only comes with playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the added stress that’s sure to come with L.A. looking for the ideal Kobe Bryant successor?
And then to guys like Jamaal Murray, Buddy Hield and Jaylen Brown and Kris Dunn, who are uncertain as to exactly where they may end up, but hope to be vaulted into a position that grants them an ample amount of playing time and success in their rookie campaigns.
And lastly, to non-lottery and second round picks: What will you do to assert yourself and illustrate that you’re a more than capable NBA talent? What measures are you willing to go to secure a roster spot for yourself? Make sure you’re attentive and ask questions so you can learn. You’ll most likely be going to a team permeated with veterans, or at least with a few sprinkled in so use this opportunity to extract all the wisdom and knowledge from them you can. Show the desire to be great.
So yes rookies, now the real fun begins.
Can you handle the rigors of the daily NBA schedule? Can you exhibit the mental fortitude to push past pain, fatigue and or any other difficulties that are sure to present themselves? Are you prepared to expedite your maturation process due to the fact you’ll be interacting and playing with men on a daily basis? You’re a kid in the midst of a mans world.
Are you going to get complacent, or will you fixated your mind on prosperity in hopes of becoming the preeminent member of the 2016 NBA Draft class? Will the money, fame and fortune zap your focus, or heighten it? Will you succumb to temptations, or make a concentrated effort to dodge them?
Yes you’ve dreamt of this all your life, but now that you are here on this stage, will we see an enactment of greatness or mediocrity?
Welcome to the NBA, rook.
Let’s see how hard you’re willing to work to stick around for a while.