Last night’s draft in Brooklyn was purportedly sold out, with fans raucously awaiting a crowd of intriguing players eager to hear their names called. The very best moment at the Barclays Center came between pick No. 15 and 16 when Adam Silver called the name Isaiah Austin, the Baylor center who had recently been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a career ending genetic condition.
Even the grizzled beat writers who barely glanced up from their computer screens for a pick, took a moment to applaud the NBA, Silver, but most importantly a very brave young man in Austin. Just a classy move all around, and a testament to Silver’s moxie as a first-year commissioner.
After the moment on stage, Austin was even more revelatory in the interview, thanking God because, “He could have continued to let me play basketball, but instead, he saved my life.”
Austin’s ability to look on the bright side of the diagnoses shows a tremendous amount of courage, but when he described how he found out about the test results, it leveled the whole room.
“I remember I was driving home with my high school coach, Coach Ray, and we’re doing the same thing that we do all the time, laughing and joking around. As soon as we pulled up to the house, I just noticed a variety of cars, and I noticed a couple of them that I recognized.
“I remember asking him what was up, and he couldn’t even look at me. I remember walking through the door, there was 10, 15 people there — my Baylor coaching staff, my pastor, a couple of my close friends and my family. The first person’s face who I saw was my mother’s. She was all the way in the back. I just remember seeing tears falling down her eyes, my dad’s arms around her. I knew right then exactly what it was because I remembered in Chicago they said I could have had this syndrome, and they did blood work on it. I just hadn’t gotten the results back.
“I wanted to break down and cry, but I didn’t because my little brother and sister were in the room. I wanted to show them that I could be strong for them and for my family because they look up to me. Later that night, I just remember I couldn’t sleep. It was devastating.”
Austin has gotten job offers from the NBA and Butler, but he’s no longer able to play the game he loves. Adam Silver found a way to call his name anyway, and he got to walk across that stage, which might have made all the difference.
“When you’re playing basketball and growing up and you’re at a competitive high level, and you’re being recruited highly and everybody’s saying that you have such potential, that’s your dream to be able to walk across that stage and hear your name called,” Austin told us later.
“When he did it, my head just dropped, because, you know, it was almost too much for me to handle. Fortunately, he did, and I’m thankful for it.”
So was everyone who attended.
What did you think of the class act by Silver?
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