Bernard James: Veteran Produces Feel-Good Moment of 2012 NBA Draft
When the 33rd pick in the 2012 NBA draft was announced, Bernard James finally heard his name called. This deserves a "finally," not because of where he was drafted, but because of the path he took to get to this point in his life. James is 27, and this is just the beginning of the story.
When James was the age of most of his fellow draft mates, he was in a war. Now, sometimes this is used as a matter of speech to denote something that actually is nothing like a war, but in this case, he was actually surrounded by war.
In 2003, James joined the Air Force, and he did three tours in the Middle East while ascending to the rank of staff sergeant. During his three tours he held three different jobs: base security in Qatar, customs official in Kuwait and what ESPN reported he said was “essentially work[ing] as a prison guard at a detainment facility in Iraq.”
While this is as good a training as anyone is going to get in defense, it is not typically the kind of defensive training future NBA players partake in, and it certainly didn't leave James ready to play on a stage anywhere near the one that holds the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant or even Brian Scalabrine.
After he was done serving his country, he went to Tallahassee Community College for two years and moved on to Florida State, which is really where he began catching the attention of NBA scouts.
James is 6'10" and has long arms. Not surprisingly, he is a hard worker on the court and isn't afraid to do the dirty work. He averaged 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year.
James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but according to Jeff Zillgitt and Scott Gleeson of USA Today, all indications are that he is part of a trade that will make him property of the Dallas Mavericks. Now, James will go on to fight his latest battle, and that is making an NBA roster.
If the chants of “USA” ringing down in the draft room when his name was called are any indication, James is going to have plenty of people rooting for him to make it in the NBA, and he certainly should.
In a day and age of pampered athletes skirting through their lives solely because of their athletic talent, Bernard James' hard work, determination and service to his country are an inspiration.
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