One of the most distinctive sports leagues in North America is undoubtedly the NBA. With 30 teams and 450 players, the NBA employs around one-fourth of the total number of players in the NFL and a portion of those in the NHL, MLB, and MLS. The league’s annual draft was held in June, and just 60 new players were selected. For those of legal age, it used to be a formal event complete with fancy suits, paparazzi, and celebratory champagne. However, their celebrations were merely a climax to a far deeper narrative. It takes a lifetime of work and sweat-drenched sacrifice to make the league.
The 76th season of the league will begin on October 19, therefore it’s important to remember how difficult it is to develop the skills necessary to play even one NBA sport. We stayed with three standouts to find out exactly how difficult the route is at different points in a participant’s journey: current collegiate megastar Zion Cruz, veteran Mississippi high school Brian Adams, and two-time NBA champion Earl Cureton.
Cruz, a shooting guard from New Jersey who committed to DePaul University in February for the 2022–23 season, is 6 feet 5 inches tall and ranks in the top 10 for grace at his location. Despite his physical attributes and widespread critical acclaim, his path to college basketball—typically the last stop before the NBA—has not always been straightforward.
“The work just got harder and harder. The long days at the gym sweating weren’t easy when I first started, but I just committed myself and the growth is outstanding.
Cruz said that his inspiration came from watching his parents go to work every day to support the family. And when he started to notice friends making the NBA, he began to really consider playing professionally. However, getting to the area where scouts and coaches focus is challenging. Cruz argues that the focus should be on your own standing, and relaxation will follow.
Cruz’s path to collegiate basketball has been filled with ups and downs, including college commitments, so maintaining composure will be challenging, especially with the full-time activities of practicing and competing in games. It’s important to keep focused and filter out the noise around his abilities. Cruz says he also values personality growth and fortification, a lesson he picked up from several Chicago Bulls who visited with him and offered advice. Cruz claims that even if he doesn’t make the NBA in the end (or if it takes years), he won’t lose focus on the job.
Adams used to be a well-known name in Mississippi when he was a high school student in the middle of the 1990s.
Adams, who developed a passion for the game at the age of six, attended the main recruitment camps in addition to Mississippi’s prestigious Piney Woods High School, where he won state championships. But as soon as he started school, his career stagnated. Despite no longer playing for the coach who had initially recruited him, Adams averaged roughly 11 points per game over his first two seasons. However, after that, his performance declined.
Adams works as a trainer today, teaching sports to young people in Texas. He collaborates with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a former NBA superstar who has had a personal relationship with the league. Adams is aware of the challenges associated with maintaining a career in sports.
Cureton said: “I was a journeyman. In my first three years, I had non-guaranteed contracts. Every year in Philly, I had to make the roster.
During his career, Cureton shared the stage alongside Dr. J, Moses Malone, Jordan, and Isiah Thomas. He was proficient at fostering compatibility and elevating groups. He also dealt with the league’s Right of First Refusal policy, which stated that if a player’s contract expired, his previous team still had his rights even though they were not required to re-sign him. They might just ask a team interested in signing the player for the payment they requested. It was a complicated observation that almost caused Cureton’s career to fail.