Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Whenever an athlete gets drafted by a Professional Team, it becomes the reality of a dream they've been following their whole life. Zack reminded me of that when we were in the Amway Arena, at the Orlando Magic NBA Draft Party Thursday Night.
Zack and I have been watching the first round of the NFL Draft for years, but I hadn't watched the NBA draft. When the Magic sent us an invite to their Draft Party, as they had two picks in the Top 10, I knew we should go and take in the excitement of adding talented young players to their team.
He was especially interested to see several players that he'd been watching since they played in High School. One player in particular, Josh Christopher from Arizona State, who he felt should get picked up in the first round, he'd been watching since his Sophmore year at Mayfair High School in California.
We arrived in Orlando Thursday evening and checked into the newly opened AC Hotel located on 8 floors of the Sun Trust Plaza building downtown. A Marriott Hotel that opened in January 2021 is a modern design driven hotel offering a high rise experience.
The lobby area is located on the 18th floor, with floor to ceiling two story windows that is a collaborative space, including several seating areas and an indoor/outdoor Sky Bar Rooftop Terrace overlooking Amway Arena. When we arrived it was early evening and there was live music playing outside on the rooftop terrace.
Our room had a modern feel with several new gadgets such as a glass door refrigerator stocked with waters, and a sound machine, that drifted us off to sleep listening to the rain pouring. It blocked out any city noise that might have filtered into our room and the calming sounds had us sleeping in late the next morning.
The added benefit was that our room had a perfect view of not only the Amway Center across the street, but the other two athletic fields in the distance.
We walked the couple of blocks, underneath the highway, to the Draft Party around 7:30pm to find fans wearing Magic Jersey's and t-shirts. They were selling merchandise for 50% off so Zack claimed an Orlando Magic t-shirt, that he changed into before we started walking around. I grabbed a Michelob light beer and we went to check out the activities and find a seat to watch the draft on the big screens overhead at 8:00pm.
What was nice was that they only let so many people into the party and it was open seating, so we were able to have a whole section to ourselves.
Zack was happy to see Jalen Green get picked up at #2 by the Houston Rockets. He was one of the top prospects in High School for the class of 2020 and instead of going on to play ball in college he went to the inaugural G League with the Ignite Team. He had earned gold medals at 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Championship, 2018 FIBA U17 World's and 2019 FIBA U19 Worlds, all while going to Prolific Prep Academy in California.
When the 4th pick of the draft was called and the Raptors chose Scottie Barnes from FSU, the Arena went crazy. The Orlando Magic had the 5th and 8th pick and when the fans saw that Jalen Suggs from Gonzaga was available they knew the Magic would pick him up.
Zack jumped up and down, excited for the Magic as Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, announced that the Orlando Magic choose Jalen Suggs, as he considered him one of the best players in the draft. Jalen was one of college basketballs top players as a freshman, according to SI.com.
After the Magic chose Franz Wagner for their 8th pick, a Sophmore out of Michigan, who came from Germany to play college ball in the U.S., with his older brother as an NBA veteran Moritz Wagner, we left the draft party to go back to our hotel.
We had dinner at a high top table inside the Rooftop Terrace area, overlooking the Amway and the city all lite up. Zack continued to watch the draft picks on his phone until we finished dinner and went up to our room to continue to watching the results.
When Josh Christopher was picked at #24 -- my son went crazy, jumping all over the room. He got picked up by the Houston Rockets, who had also chosen Jalen Green at #2.
This is when I found out that Josh Christopher and Jalen Green have been friends since Middle School when they played on the same AAU Travel team in California. Being the best of friends they had achieved similar results as they played basketball. They were both considered Top Prospects in High School for the Class of 2020. Josh, along with Jalen were both named McDonald's All American's. But while Jalen went off to the G League, Josh decided to play basketball with Arizona State.
Here are two good friends who played basketball together and both were working hard to achieve their dreams. They both end up entering the NBA draft at the same time, and now are going to play for the same team, the Houston Rockets.
Zack was happy for them, as he had been watching them both play for years, knew that they were friends, and now will be watching the Houston Rockets to cheer them both on in the NBA.
I love watching kids achieve their dreams!