I’m going to the NBA. I’ll make it, just watch. This is what I told myself and anyone who doubted me when I first started playing basketball. I was just like any kid with a big dream.
It wasn’t until high school where I thought, “you know, maybe the NBA is a little unrealistic.” But even when I came to this… realization if you call it, I couldn’t stop thinking about basketball. I played throughout high school, watched every NBA and NCAA game I could find on basic cable, and would even volunteer coach at the YMCA.
Why am I telling you this? It’s quite simple. I didn’t make it to the NBA, nor did I play in college. I’m 24 today, and yet basketball is still a part of my everyday life.
You see, basketball is beautiful in that it provides so many career opportunities to people who truly love the game, even if it doesn’t mean stepping on the court and playing in front of thousands of fans.
In all reality, kids are constantly changing their minds on what they want to be when they hit adulthood. It usually starts off as an astronaut, then a doctor, a lawyer, professional athlete, and then who knows what. What kids don’t realize is that each of career paths have a number of different avenues that can lead to success, and more importantly, happiness.
But to stick with basketball, we will go over three professions and career opportunities the sport of basketball has to offer.
If you are settled on being as close to game action as possible, then coaching may be the route for you. Sure, you’re not actually playing, but it doesn’t get any closer than this. As a coach or a trainer, you still have the opportunity to make an impact on the game even though you’re not putting a the ball through the hoop.
Although coaching is a great way to stay actively involved and competitive in basketball, coaching is much bigger than x’s and o’s. Training is more than just teaching new moves to players. Coming from my experience, there is nothing I love to do more than teach the game through coaching and training. I have had kids of all ages and skill levels, I have traveled to multiple different states, and have impacted players on and off the court. The feeling of drawing up a play during a time out and seeing executed to perfection or seeing your client pull off a move you worked on is a great feeling.
However, having a player or parent come to you and tell you that you have made a difference in their lives off the court is the greatest feeling a coach or trainer can have. Getting involved in coaching is much easier than you may think. Go to your local YMCA or youth center, find programs that host camps, or even find younger players you know and offer to lend you help and knowledge.
If you only want to coach for the idea that you think it’s fun, or just want to be as close to the game action as you can get, then it may not be for you. But if you want to make a difference in other people’s lives while growing yourself to become a better person while being involved with basketball.
Even though you can’t get much closer to the game than being a coach, being a member of the media allows you to view the game in a completely different light. Sure, you can’t openly root for a specific team during a broadcast, but it allows you to share your knowledge of the game on a deeper level with millions of people watching or listening.
After doing four years of television production in high school, I realized that being in sports media would be a great career option. Although it’s a difficult industry to get into, there are more opportunities in media that people really know.
Being a member of the media gave me the opportunity to interview big name coaches and personalities like John Calipari and Jay Bilas. I’ve sat court-side at Madison Square Garden during the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, and done play-by-play for SEC football. I’ve even gone live on TV as an anchor and a reporter.
Why am I telling you this? It’s simple, I did all of those things in a matter of eight months. Anyone can take a camera and start filming games or commentate on their schools sporting events. Success in this field can start by simply doing stuff on your own and having content you can share with others.
Sure, sports media and media in general get a bad reputation, but the opportunities are there. Reporting, anchoring, announcing, production and camera operation are just five possible professional avenues in the industry. Maybe you don’t get to play against LeBron James or Stephen Curry, but you could interview them.
Lastly, if you’re someone who loves using ESPN’s Trade Machine, or building your own dynasty on NBA 2K maybe working for an NBA front office is career for you. Any basketball fan has had the thought that they can do a better job than whoever is running their favorite team. Before you go off declaring yourself the next Danny Ainge or Daryl Morey, go back and study their paths to getting where they were at.
Unlike coaching or sports media, you can’t really volunteer to help out an NBA franchise worth millions or even billions of dollars. However, there is nothing stopping you from taking your schooling seriously, or pushing yourself to learn more than others.
Just like the other two career options, taking your education seriously is the best way to reach success in this industry. Students can pursue a degree in sports management, business finance, or even economics; the avenues to get to a front office are there. However, networking can get you just as far as your education.
The phrase “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know,” is pretty relevant here in that if you don’t try to meet with professionals in the industry then you’re not doing yourself any favors. Networking is a tool everyone should use in that you get to meet and interact with people who have been in your position for.
I can’t stress how important the education is, but relying on your degree to get you where you want won’t get you as far as taking the initiative to network with others in your desired profession.
All in all, basketball can bring you happiness and success even if you aren’t on the court. Basketball is in my life every single day whether I’m coaching a team, writing an article about a player, or even testing my front office knowledge with other colleagues.
However, this doesn’t mean you should give up your aspirations of playing ball in college or even professionally. Work as hard as possible and perfect your craft in any way you can. Just know, that basketball will always be an option if you truly love the game.