For almost any basketball fan, it doesn't matter if you're a grown ass man or a 10 year old child, meeting Michael Jordan would be a huge deal. To be fortunate enough to be at his camp as a kid, I imagine that meet and greet would be the highlight of your life. Then there's Russell Westbrook. You watch him today and he's one of the most intense competitors the league has. He steps between those lines and his mentality changes. Watching Westbrook play it's pretty clear that he cares about one thing and one thing only and that is destroying his opponents. I know he gets a lot of shit as a player, but his competitiveness is pretty rare in today's NBA. He turns into this basketball psycho that you don't really see from anyone else.
So to hear that at age 10 or 11 he was more interested in his pickup game than meeting MICHAEL JORDAN and getting a picture and autograph is so on brand I can't even stand it. I'd say 99.9% of kids immediately stop playing basketball and go meet the living legend, but Westbrook was too busy destroying everyone. That's fantastic.
This then made me think of my own experiences with something similar. In my life I've had the opportunity to meet two NBA players while attending a basketball camp. The first was David Wesley at the Worcester JCC basketball camp in like 1997. He was the starting point guard for the Celts during that era and it was a very big deal to meet him and get his autograph on some picture. I still have it to this day. 10 year old Greenie was over the moon about DAVID WESLEY, I can't imagine if the player was ya know, the greatest player in history. I'll have you know though that was the season he averaged 16.8/3.6/7.3/2.2 on 46/36% shooting which was basically the second best season of Wesley's career. Sure the Celtics went 15-67 that season but that was life for any 90s Celtics fan.
The other opportunity I ever had was at the Red Auerbach camp at Brandeis University. I was a little older then, this was in the early 2000s and the HUGE get at the time was on the last day Walter McCarty showed up for a meet and greet and to play everyone in one giant game of knockout. To this day getting eliminated by the only and only Walter remains one of the best days of my life. To any non Celtics fan I'm sure you can't imagine why anyone would give a flying fuck about Walter McCarty, but to us the guy who averaged like 7 points a night might as well have been Larry Bird. Shit, I named one of my dogs after him, he was that influential to teenage me during the early 2000s.
So looking back, it's pretty clear I did no possess the same level of focus and determination as a 10 year old Westbrook. I couldn't have stopped what I was doing fast enough to go meet an NBA player that immediately forgot I existed 5 seconds after it was over. I guess that's just one of the reasons I'm sitting here blogging and Westbrook is on his way to the Hall of Fame. But at least I still have that David Wesley picture so who really came out ahead?