Long before I truly understood the beauty of basketball, I fell in love with it. When I was five years old I went to my first professional basketball game; Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This night was the beginning of a love affair that would continue through my life and one that I still cherish today. The era of basketball that I grew up in offered me an opportunity to watch some of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball; Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley & Magic Johnson just to name a few. While all of the kids on the basketball courts of my child hood school tour tried to model their games after the aforementioned players, I began to latch on to a hometown hero. This 6’1” point guard for the Phoenix Suns proudly wore the number 7 and has forever impacted my life. Kevin Johnson otherwise known as “KJ” is not only my favorite basketball player of all time, but he is also one of my greatest role models. KJ is currently the Mayor of Sacramento and he continues to fight for change and growth by his level of integrity and ability to follow through on his promises to the city he represents.
As a child I memorized every move that Kevin Johnson made on the court, including my personal favorite, a cross over at about the three point line which would gracefully take him to about the seventeen foot mark where he would pull up and knock down the jumper. We all have that “childhood dream”, mine was to become the point guard for the Phoenix Suns, following in the footsteps of KJ! My imagination was great for this dream; my front yard resembled the Suns home court and somehow allowed this only child to play against an opponent for hour’s everyday. As a pre-teen my dad allowed me to attend a basketball camp that was put on by the ASU basketball coach at the time, Bill Frieder. Over three straight summers I was guided and coached on the technical side of how to become a better basketball player. In the midst of drills, coaching, eating pizza, playing in mini games and even a chance to meet KJ, there was one thing that has changed my game above and beyond all things…
As a kid the only real concept that I had about shooting a basketball was throwing the ball hard enough for it to travel ten feet in the air and hopefully fall through the net [or chain if you’re from the hood]. The older I became and the more I tried to replicate what I saw from my television the more refined my shot became, however, it wasn’t until this three summer stretch that I truly understood the necessity to follow through. Every shooting drill buried the idea into my subconscious that if I don’t follow through, I have no control over where the ball goes. This professional advice changed the entire course of how I play the game of basketball, and then some. Elbow in, bend at the knees, fully extend and follow through: This is the mechanical break down of every shot I take. Unfortunately, the shots I take professionally have not followed this same structure. Dream, create a plan, find support and follow through: typically my professional shot breaks down somewhere in the ‘find support’ step and rarely sees the benefit of the follow through. The lesson learned at ASU summer basketball camp is ringing in my ear, “if I don’t follow through, I have no control over where the ball goes”.
If I don’t follow through, I have no control over where the dream goes.
Dream: check. Create a plan: check. Find support: next. Follow through: feels more realistic than ever.
All of this is pertaining to a collaboration between me and Marcus A. Murphy, together we possess the right amount of accountability, drive and vision to turn this moment into a movement. Please pray for us as we fight our inner desire to quit, as we see vision much larger than ourselves and as we strive for lives of integrity to our message and conviction to our God.
Elbow in, bend at the knees, fully extend and follow through.