Everyone is inspired by something or someone. In sports, most athletes growing up look up to professional athletes, hoping to one day be as inspiring as they are in any way, shape or form. Basketball, for example, has exemplified many legendary athletes. One of those athletes is recognized as possibly the best sportsman of all time. He’s known around the world as Michael Jordan, but to the Red Hawks’ freshman guard Drew Walker, he’s known as inspiration.
“Michael Jordan may have been, and still is, the most impactful player to ever play,” Walker said.
Jordan played a key role in the success of some of today’s greatest players. The most notable player in today’s game to represent Jordan every time he steps on the court is LeBron James. For years he’s been compared to Jordan. He has even worn Jordan’s legendary number 23 for the vast majority of his career. He’s been another huge inspiration for the young Walker.
“These are two of the best players to ever play the game,” Walker said. “Their work ethic is unbelievable and one of a kind. The way these two players have influenced the game, not only to younger kids, but to players that are in the NBA right now, is amazing.”
From previous 23s to current 23s, the number has lived on through the NBA, college, high school and even other sports. Retired soccer star, David Beckham even chose to wear the number due to his admiration for Jordan.
Senior guard Daniel Ramis currently sports the jersey with the number 23 on the back of it. Ramis, a Miami native, grew up idolizing Dwyane Wade, who ironically grew up in Chicago idolizing Jordan.
“He is not your typical all-star/future hall of famer,” Ramis said. “It is his character and poise that sets him aside from the rest of the superstars and how he goes against the odds and still comes out on top.”
James knows all about his good buddy Wade. They were both drafted the same year, played in multiple all-star games and Olympic teams, and they won two championships together in Miami.
“Dwyane Wade had the opportunity to play with LeBron and against him and said he is the toughest competitor he has ever played against,” Walker said.
Although Wade grew up idolizing Jordan, he never had the opportunity to play against him. As a basketball fan all through high school and college, Wade’s favorite player became Kobe Bryant. When he got to the league, he was able to put himself up against the Mamba, and realized the bar he had to reach if he wanted to be one of the best.
For junior guard Jovanni Chatham, Bryant has been a source of inspiration for just about as long as he can remember. Bryant had a glorious career full of success and legendary accomplishments, but that didn’t come easy, which is something Chatham has learned from his favorite player.
“Ever since I was a little kid I always admired everything he did on the basketball court, whether it was amazing dunks or game-winning shots,” Chatham said. “His will to win is something no other player could ever duplicate. This led me to want to know more and more about him.”
Other times, like Wade and Ramis, the players that are closer to home have the biggest inspiration on a young player. This was the case with sophomore guard Isaiah Channer.
“One player that has inspired me would have to be John Henson,” Channer said. “Growing up and seeing him play from a young age really meant a lot to me. Out of high school he was recruited to play at the University of North Carolina. Even from early in his career people could see he had a high chance of making it to the NBA.”
Henson played his senior year of high school basketball in Tampa, Florida, where his level of basketball talent really stood out. He got drafted 14th overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and has become an integral part of the Bucks young core.
“Now he’s a starter for The Milwaukee Bucks, and still always comes back to the city of Tampa to show much love and inspire all basketball players to chase their dreams,” Channer said. “Seeing him grow as a player and make his dreams come true inspired me to play the game of basketball.”