Zen and the Art of Minor League Basketball

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The NBA D-League season ended Thursday with the Raptors 905 winning the league championship over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

I was continually impressed this year by the wisdom that accompanies minor league basketball. I pulled my seven favorite quotes that encapsulate life lessons from D-Leaguers I covered this season:

Damien Wilkins (Greensboro Swarm) on dream chasing:

“People might say if I don’t get a call up to the NBA, do I regret being here? Absolutely not, because I forged some great relationships, I’ve done some things that I want to work on in my post playing career, that I may not have had the opportunity to do if I went over to Europe. And, you know, I did it my way. I have two little boys, I tell them all the time ‘don’t be afraid to chase your dreams,’ you know, most of the time everyone else is afraid.

That’s why they’re encouraged to take the easy route, or chase the money so to speak. I’m not afraid.”

Jordan Crawford (Grand Rapids Drive) on humility:

“I didn’t want to look back when I’m 40 and not be humble enough to play in the D-League. It be tough (not playing in the NBA again), but it’s life, NBA not everything.”

Keith Wright (Westchester Knicks) on attitude:

“You just have to stay positive. You can never get too high or too low. I don’t know how long I will play, depending on where I am in life – I might be starting a family down the line. I don’t really know, I kind of take things day by day – you know, take care of today and the rest will take care of its self.”

Jameel Warney (Texas Legends) on limitations:

“I’m not oblivious to what I can’t do, I know who I am. I’ve gotten better every year. I know I’m a good post player, but my greatest strength is offensive rebounding. Its hard in the NBA game to get post up touches so you have to go to your greatest strength.”

Chris Wright (Oklahoma City Blue) on being in the moment:

“I started to look at it like, ‘if basketball is the only thing you have, then you’ve failed in life. Because basketball can replace you the next day; the next hour; the next minute. You have to be in the moment, learn from it and cherish it, because tomorrow’s not promised.”

Will Bynum (Windy City Bulls) on learning from others:

“I learned so much just being around so many different people. It would be dishonest to say one or two people, because I learned from Joe (Dumars); I learned from Chauncey (Billups); I learned from Allen Iverson; Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey; I’ve learned from pretty much everybody. All of those things, I take with me – they’re the difference in succeeding or failing.”

Damien Wilkins (Greensboro Swarm) on consistency:

“It’s an everyday thing. You have to be an everyday guy – you have to be in the gym, you have to be working on your game; you got to be taking care of your body. You can’t do it half way and expect to have longevity.”