Column: Superiority not spelled N-B-A

By Ryne Nelson

Deron and Luther: I’m asking you this because of a dream. When I was younger, I dreamed I would be a member of the Dream Team.

With confidence, I told all the other kids, one day, I’d be representing the United States’ basketball team in the Olympics.

Of course, they all laughed.

Now I’m 18 years old. My dream is long gone. I couldn’t walk-on a high school team if I was allowed. I have a new dream – this time, I put it on my family that I’d never give it up.

So here’s the question: Is an NBA player superior to all other basketball players?

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Are you really better than the rest of us? Is there another level you reach when you’re on that stage, shaking Commissioner Stern’s hand?

Of course, the right answer would be no. Any hesitation could put you under serious scrutiny. They could make you look like a selfish, arrogant, apathetic, young millionaire. To say you’re superior very well could do major damage to your image as an entertainer as well as an American role model.

But deep down, wouldn’t you want a moment to think about it? How would you feel if you were forced to battle against CBA players for the rest of your career? What if you were outsourced? What if you played with the American “wash ups” trying to make some money in the European leagues?

Would you still get up the same way you’ll get up for your first NBA game in early November?

Even better still, what do you think when you drive by the parks late at night and see people still playing basketball? Basketball on the street. Streetball. Basketball at its fundamental roots. They don’t leave even after the lights go out. What are they playing for, an appearance on the next And1 Mix Tape Tour? Would you seriously consider pulling your car over to play next?

How about those high schoolers? They no longer have the option of going straight to the League. They’re going through the same recruitment process you went through. Their game needs to develop. Couldn’t you show them a thing or two if you really wanted? They still have a long road ahead if they want to prove themselves as winners.

But you’ve already done all that. You were successful at the college game. You’ve done your workouts and interviews. You’re already there!

How about when you’re in IMPE? What do you think of people like me, sweating just to run the fast break and play D every possession? What do you see when you look at the hundreds of kids who only have one number in their head: 11? Most of them don’t even know their teammates. Can you imagine their motivation to play?

Now, with some thought, I ask you the original question, again: Is an NBA player superior to all other basketball players?

You have natural talent. Me, not as much. You have it made financially. Me, definitely not as much. You get to see the world. Me, cornfields. You have thousands of fans. Me…well, you get the point.

There are millions of basketball players across the globe. We weren’t given your talent, but we all have one similarity:


So does talent alone make you superior? Or should passion for the game be the ultimate litmus test for all basketball players and fans alike?

What about all the gym rats? What about the kid who only sleeps with his basketball underneath their pillow? What about the streetballer who plays long after the lights are turned out? What about the player overseas who believes everyday his chance for the NBA is coming? What about the high schooler who’s in class six hours a day and in the gym another seven? What about the kid playing at IMPE every day, knowing there will be no fame, glory or Olympics?

Knowing it was nothing more than a dream.

So, are you superior now that you’re in the League or is it just the contemptuous residue of an old dream?

I’ll see you courtside.

Ryne Nelson is a sophomore in communications. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected].