On June 27th, 2014, NBA fans watched as the NBA Draft took place in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York with 60 players being picked by nearly every NBA team in the league.
On draft day, dreams that had begun long ago were finally realized, and with them stories were told of the journeys taken to reach such a goal – like Gary Harris, the 19th pick, who grew up with a poster in his room that read, “What did you do today that will get you into the NBA?”. The Lakers’ 7th pick, Julius Randle, grew up a Kobe fan, probably practicing Kobe’s last-second shots and dreaming of one day playing like his idol, and will now get to play alongside him. The 3rd pick of the draft gets to work with his idol too. Once Cameroonian Joel Embiid’s injury is healed, he will be trained by Hakeem Olajuwon.
It’s a long road to the NBA Draft, and an even longer road to the NBA. Those that were drafted realized their dreams. But there was one dreamer who didn’t.
The NBA’s Pick
With the NBA Draft only four days away, 7’1″ former Baylor Center Isaiah Austin received the devastating news that his NBA dream was over. He wouldn’t be drafted and wouldn’t make it to the NBA. His basketball career was cut short due to his recent diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome, discovered during a pre-draft physical. Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder which affects connective tissue throughout the body and can cause the enlargement of the aorta, a life-threatening symptom, especially to a professional athlete. This discovery has ended Austin’s career as an athlete, but his story isn’t over.
Midway through the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver walked onto the stage and said:
I want to take a moment to recognize Baylor center Isaiah Austin. You may have heard about Isaiah. He is one of the nation’s best collegiate players, and was expected to be picked tonight before the discovery just a few days ago that he had a genetic disorder called Marfan Syndrome and is no longer able to play competitive basketball.
Like the other young men here tonight, Isaiah committed himself through endless hard work and dedication to a potential career as a professional basketball player, and we wanted to make sure he fulfilled at least this part of his dream.
So it gives me great pleasure to say, that with the next pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin from Baylor University.
Though the pick was ceremonial, Isaiah’s name was called that night, drafting him into the NBA. Dreams can change, but passions always push us forward. In an interview before the draft, Isaiah said,“It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning.”
Our life dreams are like great cliffs before us on our own path through life. It’s only when the challenge is real that our dreams can be realized. Some will crest the cliff expecting success to greet them, but are only met with a blank horizon or another cliff. When dreams die, life’s finite quality becomes all too real. But once we realize life is a finite, but beautiful journey, we can live to dream again.