Another year, another upcoming season, another crop of talented rookies ready to live out their lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. EBONY was one of a few publications invited to the NBA’s 2015 Rookie Photo Shoot (sponsored by trading card company Panini America), where we got an inside look at the recently drafted Class of 2015 putting on their very own NBA jerseys for the first time.
“This is a dream come true, I’m very fortunate to be in this position,” says Dallas Mavericks Forward Justin Anderson. “We’ve been so busy recently, people telling us where to go and things like that, so for you to put this in perspective and give me time to look at this. Man, this is my jersey.”
“For me to come off of my freshman year of school, and winning a National Championship, to then joining my hometown team… Stories don’t turn out this well, and God has definitely blessed me,” says Minnesota Timberwolves Guard Tyus Jones, formerly of the Duke University Blue Devils.
The players, a group of about 30 plus, took turns interacting with the media and participating in photo shoots with representatives of Panini for their very own rookie cards.
“Having the opportunity to do what I love for a living is amazing,” says Philadelphia 76er Forward Richaun Holmes. “I get my own rookie card, how cool is that?”
The mood of the photo-shoot was very relaxed, as it became apparent that most of the players have known each other for years, coming up through the AAU, high school and college ranks together. Schools like Kentucky, Duke and Notre Dame were fully represented, with multiple former teammates participating in the shoot.
“It’s great to see old friends and teammates live out their NBA dreams the same way I am,” states Dakari Johnson of the Oklahoma City Thunder. “We went through an amazing time together and I can’t wait to see what we’re gonna do on the next level.”
“I’ve known most of these guys for years, so these are relationships that are gonna last through our pro careers, it’s a humbling experience” added Philadelphia 76er Jahlil Okafor.
One thing of note during the interview process with the players was the realization of just how young most of the players are. Some are still teenagers, yet they’ve been christened as the future of their franchises.
“I’ve had to realize that I’m not a kid anymore,” claims Washington Wizard forward Kelly Oubre. “I’ve had to sit in meetings, talk endorsements, and look for a house in my new city. But I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Basketball wasn’t the sole topic of the day, as we discussed the state of music, and what the players were listening to nowadays. Future was the unanimous choice amongst the group, as most of them claimed his recent DS2 is currently getting spins. Also mentioned were Chicago’s Chance the Rapper, Drake, Meek Mill and others.
“I like to listen to music that’ll keep me loose, says newly drafted Los Angeles Laker D’Angelo Russell. “I find that I struggle when I take a game too seriously going in. So I listen to guys like Lil Bibby and Lil Durk to keep me level.”
It seemed that as soon as the press junket began, it ended, and press was asked to leave so the shoot could continue. If these conversations are any indication, the league (and the basketball world) needs to be on notice: the Class of 2015 has come to play.
Cory Townes was born and raised in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. A devout Philly sports fan, Townes is the Social Media Manager for EBONY.com. When he’s not building on the #SixerHive or bringing headbands back in the 2015, you can reach him on Twitter @CoryTownes.