NBA Draft Experience

The man with the best suits in the business TNT's Craig Sager.
I had the pleasure of meeting New York Knicks guard Landry Fields and he was definitely taller then I thought .

Last Thursday Duke’s Kyrie Irving was the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Never did I expect my path to cross with the Blue Devil standout. Just an hour before Kyrie would become the newest member of the Cleveland Cavs, I stood with him and the rest of the 2011 draft class on the stage at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. A fantasy transformed into a reality thanks to the good people at Taco Bell’s Graduate to Go foundation.

Based on an essay I wrote, I was one of five selected from the Tri-state area to win a VIP trip to NBA headquarters in New York and the NBA Draft in Newark. I am eternally grateful for the efforts of the people at the NBA and Taco Bell who made this experience possible because looking back on it, my day with the NBA was one of the greatest in my life.

The magic all began at the home of the NBA offices in New York. During my trip to 5th avenue headquarters, I had the chance to tour the complex, take pictures next to priceless memorabilia and listen to NBA employees talk about their jobs. I found it very intriguing to listen to the members of the NBA family because I did not realize how many different elements have contributed to making the NBA a global icon.

Brooks Meek, the senior director of basketball operations overseas really put this idea into perspective with his conversation about the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Program. Eight picks in this year’s first round were from outside of the United States and many of those guys including Turkey’s Enes Kantor and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas were once participants in the NBA’s international camp. These are ideas that I know I would not be getting anywhere else and that is why the trip to NBA headquarters was truly very interesting. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other perks I received such as the free Landry Fields (more on him in a little bit) jersey, NBA bag and a picture in front of Commissioner David Stern’s office.

Even though David Stern was at lunch, this was the closest I could get to the Commissioner's office in New York.

As for the draft itself, let’s just say I was in for a few surprises when I reached the Prudential Center in Newark. The first was a limo ride from New York to New Jersey. We were suppose to be traveling by bus but the people at the NBA thought that a stretch Escalade limo was more fitting for the magnitude of the event. We definitely turned some heads riding through the streets of New York. Upon reaching the site of the draft, I had the great pleasure of meeting one of my favorite players in Landry Fields.

Standing at 6’7, the New York Knicks guard had much more swag and was much taller than I expected. I comment on the level of swag Fields had because of the sweet threads he was rocking. Meeting Fields was certainly a thrill but getting a chance to interview him was even more exciting. With his publicist breathing right down my neck, I got the chance to ask Landry a few questions about his life in the NBA.

In addition to meeting Fields, I got the chance to introduce myself to some of my idols in the sports broadcasting world. MSG’s Tina Cervasio, TNT’s Craig Sager, and ESPN’s Jon Berry and Jeff Van Gundy were among the few that I got to meet. As a big time Knicks fan, it was great to meet Cervasio and she was kind enough to talk with me for 15 minutes about the Knickerbockers, Fordham and my sportscasting aspirations.

Jeff Van Gundy is one of my favorite analysts in the business today and meeting him was certainly an experience I will never forget.

As for Sager and Van Gundy, the conversations were much shorter, but both showed their true colors. Sager admired my aspirations and applauded my choice of Fordham to continue my broadcasting career. I countered back with a compliment for his fine velvet suit. While he may have been a mad man on the sidelines, Van Gundy was truly a class act and really took interest in my career aspirations by talking about his partner and famous Fordham grad Mike Breen and his son who is currently a Ram.

I should have had my translator with me because several different countries were represented on this stage last Thursday

While it was incredible to meet the some of the men and women I most admire, the coolest part of the evening was getting to take pictures with the 2011 draft class. Along with the four other Graduate to Go winners, I walked onto the stage at the Prudential Center and could not believe that this was really happening. As I moved toward the middle of the stage I asked myself, did I really just say hi to Jimmer Fredette. For this Kodak moment I was stationed between Irving and UCONN’s Kemba Walker. I told Walker that I was from Connecticut and that I liked his draft day suit. Kemba responded with a chuckle and said that he was happy to meet me.

Your 2011 Taco Bell Graduate to Go selectees

I am never going to forget the experience that I had last Thursday or kindness of the people at Taco Bell and the NBA. Without the Graduate to Go program, I would have never had the chance to meet my broadcasting idols or rubbed elbows with the next generation of NBA players. Lastly I say thank you to Amy, Nairobi, Tru and Yadiyah, spending the day with you guys was a blast and I look forward to seeing you all again one day soon.