Read: NBA.com – NBA selects Isaiah Austin in draft
Last night after coming home from somewhat lengthy New York commute, I sat down with my brother to watch the NBA Draft. We didn’t watch the whole thing; Probably just beginning to middle, stopping in between to eat dinner.
I don’t follow college ball at all. Maybe once in awhile I’ll catch a game on TV with my brother, but that’s about it. Despite the fact I was unfamiliar was the players getting drafted, it was still really nice to watch. What a dream come true for all those players! It’s inspiring to witness.
I played Girls Parks & Rec Basketball in middle school. I wasn’t a superstar, but I wasn’t half bad. My (shall we say) intimidating defense tactics earned me the nickname “Beastmaster” for a season. I also scored a few baskets here and there. I played soccer and softball too, but never seriously pursued sports in high school mostly because of my heavy involvement in the music department. My rigorous schedule didn’t allow sports. It would’ve been extracurricular suicide.
When it comes to basketball, over time I’ve forgotten the rules, what it all means. Luckily I’ve had my brother there to rehash everything, re-explain the dos and don’ts, pick and rolls, alley-oops, jump shots, goaltending, rebounds. We talk about legendary players and watched a documentary on Len Bias once. He’s my go-between in the sports world. He even taught me everything about football, simply by helping me play Madden on Xbox when I wanted to learn after seeing him play it. Now I’m a rabid football fan; I’m all about NFL Redzone (and I’m probably going to join his Fantasy League this coming season -no shame).
But last night while watching the Draft, something interesting happened.
NBA prospect and outstanding Center for the Baylor University basketball team, Isaiah Austin, was recently diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects connective tissue in the body:
Features of the disorder are most often found in the heart, blood vessels, bones, joints, and eyes. Some Marfan features – for example, aortic enlargement (expansion of the main blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body) – can be life-threatening. The lungs, skin and nervous system may also be affected.
It affects 1 in 5,000 and Isaiah Austin was that 1, testing positive for the syndrome at a routine physical for the Draft about a week before; It ended his playing career before it had even begun.
But instead of the NBA disqualifying him outright, perhaps with an impersonal letter of apology regarding his diagnosis, they did a wonderful thing – Between the 15th and 16th picks NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Austin up to the stage, allowing him to participate and be a part of what should have been his Draft night. The overwhelmed athlete stood up, embraced family and friends, was given a generic NBA cap, and made his way up to the stage to shake Silver’s hand and pose for a picture – A ritual undergone by all draftees turned players that night. NBA stars Kevin Love and Kevin Durant have outwardly applauded the NBA and Adam Silver for this gesture. Plus, this morsel of positivity seems to be getting press everywhere, which is only inspiring and moving others from hearing Austin’s story. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
Despite this unfortunate blow, Austin seems to be looking at the rest of his life with an open and mature perspective. He knows this isn’t the end, merely a roadblock of sorts that is leading him in another direction. I credit him with his positive mindset and wish him all the best. He’s already been offered a coaching position at Baylor, so perhaps we will be hearing more of him and his successes in the future.
Watch his highlight reel here: