The best moment in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, other than the New York Knicks fans’ booing, came when Bernard James was drafted.
The Florida State player, taken with the 33rd pick, is 27 and, 10 years ago, enlisted in the Air Force. After six years and tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar, he headed for FSU and an admittedly “peculiar” route to the NBA. James is the oldest collegian selected in the last 20 years. Dikembe Mutombo
turned 25 the day after he was drafted in 1991.
“I think there’s a huge difference between me and other players, right down to my mindset and how I approach things every day,” James told Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld . “A lot of these kids haven’t seen a whole lot in their lives. For many of them, all they know is basketball. They’ve been playing since they were about eight years old and they don’t realize what it’s like in the real world, having a real job and working for $30,000 or $40,000 a year. I’ve definitely learned not to let a single day go to waste.”
James was taken with the third pick in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, then traded along with the 24th pick, Jared Cunningham of Oregon State and the 34th pick, Jae Crowder of Marquette to the Mavericks for North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, the 17th selection. When his name was called by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and he stood up in the Prudential Center, the crowd chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” and the selection excited Mavs owner Mark Cuban as well.
I love that kid !! USA !!— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 29, 2012