When I was a freshman in college I went to a New York City comedy club and was sitting right next to Cuba Gooding Jr. The entire time we were at the show, people kept running up to him and asking him questions. Obviously, there were the people who wanted autographs, "Can you sign this? Can you sign that?" Then there were the people who wanted to show they were really his fans and asked him more specific questions like "When you did Jerry Maguire was it hard to play a professional athlete? Or do you get nervous showing your bare bottom in movies?" It wouldn't be NYC if someone didn't come up to him and ask how to get into the acting world and wanted to know if Cuba Gooding Jr. could help them get their foot in the door. And then of course, there were the drunk people who just wanted to take pictures with him. The whole time this is happening I'm sitting there thinking, "how do you deal with this everywhere you go?" but he was asked enough questions by that point, so I just kept it to myself.
Us MEG players have, what we call, D-list celebrity status...meaning we're not REAL celebrities. We benefit from a few perks like skipping long lines or getting faster service but we don't have to really deal with paparazzi or fanatical fans 24/7. That may also be the difference between being a celebrity in America and being a celebrity in Europe. The difference between being a BBL player and being an NBA player, or the difference between American media outlets and European Media outlets. Whatever the case may be, I have spent more time around REAL celebrities this summer than ever before. First it was the NBA draft, where I met a bunch of soon-to-be NBA rookies. Then it was the movie shoot where I met (rapper turned actor) Common and (rapper turned actress) Queen Latifah. Then there was the Rock The Bells concert where I was within arms reach of some of the best Hip-Hop artists in the game today. And now there is the Nike Pro City summer league, where I get the chance to play with/against some of the best players in the world. It's definitely contagious too because Holly has already run into both Steve Nash and Zyldrunas Ilgauskas walking down the streets of New York City.
As I'm sitting here writing this blog I have ESPN Classic on and I'm watching an NBA game from 2003 between the Mavericks (Dirk, Nash, Finley, LaFrentz, Van Exel & Najara) and the Kings (Bibby, Webber, Turkoglu, Stojakovich, Christie & Jackson) and at this point (OT just began) Dirk has 30pts and 18rbs. As a highschool senior (which I was in 2003) I couldn't imagine in my wildest dreams ever playing against someone that stepped on an NBA court, especially since I was preparing to go to a Division 3 University. But a lot has changed in those six years and my summer has been filled with basketball stories against some of the world's best players that I will remember as long as I live.
Our last regular season game is this week and between the weekly runs at the New York Athletic Club and the Nike Pro City Summer League, I've played with/against NBA stars (past and present) like Allan Houston, Al Harrington, Jason Williams, Ryan Gomes, Ahmad Nivins, Ron Artest and Marko Jaric. It was good to see Houston can still get up and down the court. Al Harrington has more swag than anyone I have ever played against, but his new Protege sneakers that can be found exclusively at K-Mart are awful. Jason Williams, who could have really been a solid NBA player didn't impress me much. I wasn't a big fan of motorcycles before but after seeing what it turned him into, I will definitely NEVER be riding on of those. Ryan Gomes got caught up in the bickering back and forth and let it affect his game, although he ended up playing well in the clutch and helping secure a win for our team, so I'll leave it at that. Ahmad Nivins can be decent in the NBA but he definitely needs to get stronger and more disciplined. He did however, have more goaltends in the two games he's played with us than I have had in my career. The guy can definitely jump out of the gym, as of right now, let's see what 10lbs of muscle and 82 games does to those hops. Ron Artest got a little testy at one point, and I thought we were going to have another "Palace at Auburn Hills" but he was just mad his team was losing. And last but DEFINITELY not least, Marko Jaric is married to Adriana Lima...enough said.
After my movie hits theaters and Marko Jaric lets me babysit the baby he's expecting I think I will be well onto my way of a D-List celebrity...but in the meantime I can't wait to get back to my D-List celebrity status in Gottingen. Four weeks and counting.