All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
—Walt Disney, founder, the Walt Disney Company.
As he approached the middle of the basketball court, Michael Jordan had tears in his eyes. It was halftime during his final NBA All-Star Game in 2003, a highly emotional moment for sports fans around the world. Amid thunderous applause and with a packed Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, Jordan waved to the cheering fans and cherished the special moment. After a long standing ovation, he humbly said, “To all the fans who supported the game of basketball, not just Michael Jordan. I thank you for your support. I leave the game in good hands. . . . Now I can go home and feel at peace with the game of basketball.” I was there in person and had a front-row seat to history in the making.
Growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, from age six to about eleven years old, all I did was play and watch basketball. My friends and I all wanted to go to the NBA. We were obsessed. I loved basketball so much that my father paid a good sum of money to pave our backyard with asphalt and erect a regulation basketball hoop. My older brother and I played out there most of the year—in freezing snow and in plus one-hundred-degree weather. I played in every league that I could during every season. I religiously did my basketball drills in my basement (basketball fans remember the spider dribble and figure-eight drills). I was determined to live up to my namesake and make it to the pros . . . until I stopped growing at five-feet-nine.
When I stopped growing, I started studying. With the same passion I once played basketball, I studied math and science. While a junior in high school, I received a full scholarship compliments of NASA to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta and study computer science. Even though trying to make it to the NBA was never about chasing money, I now understood that I would have to make my millions in technology instead of bouncing a ball. While in college I figured out that entrepreneurship was the ideal path for me to follow. Building my business gave me the same exciting and fulfilling feeling that playing basketball gave me when I was younger.
Just three years after I started my company, the NBA approached me to help promote its 2003 All-Star Game in Atlanta. My company had done work with the Atlanta Hawks franchise the year before, and the Hawks marketing department recommended my company to the NBA when it sought reputable local companies to partner with during the All-Star Game. The NBA hired my company to market the 2003 weekend and to help make it a huge success. I was especially thrilled because not only was my dream as a kid to play in the NBA, but I also wanted to attend the three-point contest and exciting slam-dunk contest. Here was my chance to do so.
During that weekend, I had the opportunity to be around many of my sports heroes, including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Isaiah Thomas, Shaquille O’Neil, and many more. Celebrities were hanging out, too. Nick Cannon, Ashton Kutcher, Nelly, and others were there. But there was no experience like the NBA All-Star Game itself. Because I had an extra ticket to the game, I invited my dad to go with me. He booked a flight from Chicago and joined me for one of the most exciting times of my life, and all due to my entrepreneurial efforts.
Even though I have never played in an NBA game, my dream to work for the NBA still came true. It just turned out to be different than what I expected. Instead of the NBA paying me to play basketball, it pays me to plan some of its marketing strategy and tactics. Instead of sitting on the bench as a player (where I would probably be), I sit courtside as a spectator. To this day, the NBA continues as one of my best clients, and the dream continues. Entrepreneurs make their dreams happen in many ways, and my experience is a testament to that. Who knows? Maybe one day I will get to own an NBA franchise. How cool would that be!