Afterwards, I realized that the young, whippersnapper I once was, was no longer young.
Five seasons later, I stand at the ripe age of 23, eagerly awaiting the day my four to five toddlers scurry about a safely confined, white picket fenced-in acre of bluegrass, with a dashing husband to boot.
Yet, in order for that pipe dream to become a reality, a certain someone has to get a certain something.
I need a job.
I remember sitting in the locker room after my last game looking around from player to player. Some had the sniffles, some were already talking about next year, and some (me) were smiling. Don't get me wrong, I was devastatingly sad about the fact that my season was over, my career was over, and my team's tournament run was over, but I couldn't help but think to myself-- I did it.
I was raised on horror stories of college basketball. My father loved to tell us kiddos how many suicides he ran in college, how little college coaches cared about one's personal feelings, and how hard it was to maintain a solid grade point average amongst a practice schedule straight from hell.
He likes to exaggerate.
Now you all know where I get it from. Contrary to popular belief, I don't get it from Tracy.
For us kids on the West Coast, the quarter system is in full effect.
Meaning, we were playing in the Sweet Sixteen smack dab in the middle of finals week.
Meaning, after the game it was Spring Break.
Meaning, we lost; so I got to go on Spring Break.
My friends and I decided to pack up the car, mattress pad and all, and drive. We explored the entire coast of California in 5 days, on a budget of $197.15. I can tell you how we managed to do so on a following blog. Fascinating stuff. It took a few nights sleeping with a seatbelt cemented into your torso, lots of McDonald's, and an abundance of dedicated and loyal friends scattered across the coast graciously willing to house us when we couldn't quite stand the foot funk much longer.
As soon as we piled into the car and merged onto the 405, I got an email. It was from my assistant coach.
The subject line read, "Invitation to China Tour for Nicole Kornet and Kari Korver."
At first glance, I laughed.
I had been getting a bunch of emails from agents, coaches, and Euro-basket leagues reaching out asking the looming question,
"Are you playing professionally??"
No, no, no.
Remember that plan I so vividly detailed for you all in paragraph #1?? Playing in Europe doesn't fit into those parameters.
I love basketball with all of my heart. I love it, but I'm ready to be done with it. It's time to hang up the sneakers and go to work. I'm no Kelsey Plum. I know where I stand. Sure I could delay the inevitable and play overseas for a few years. I could explore the world, meet new people, and keep playing, but I don't want to. I want to stay in the USofA. I want to live on Top Ramen and pb&j sandwiches and pick up my boss's coffee and work from dawn till dusk and get very little for it.
Yeah, I want to enter the work force.
After reading further into this "Invitation to China Tour" email it became loud & clear. I had been selected to be a part of the USA All-Star Team. I was asked to come to China, all expenses paid.
3 cities, 9 games, 14 days.
We play Lithuania, Canada, and of course, China; it's a world-wide, round-robin Four Nations tournament smack dab in the middle of China.
Now that's something I can't say no to. Even if I want to "hang up the sneakers."
Best part is that my teammate Kari is invited too. The dynamic duo ain't done yet.
I emailed my coach back. Well, I called my mom first and asked permission, and then I emailed my coach back, and told him...
"I'm going to China."
Just two hours before I had hopped in the car ready to traverse the land of milk and honey for Spring Break, I was on my first-ever job interview.
I was offered an internship at Wasserman Sports Agency here in LA. Halfway through the season I knew my time as an athlete was coming to a close, therefore I knew I had to make a move in the job market.
It was time.
Wasserman offered me an internship for the spring. I graciously took it...and then proceeded to tell them about China.
"We'll start you after you get back."
I'm really excited about this opportunity, but like I said, it's an internship. As soon as school ends, my internship ends too.
I didn't join Wasserman because I want to be a sports agent. I joined because one should always say yes when opportunity comes a knockin' at my age. Wasserman is an uncommon agency, run by uncommon people, seeking uncommon results. I believe in the vision they have to help athletes, like my little brother, fulfill lifelong dreams of attaining a professional career in sports.
Heck, I'm all about that.
However, my dream job involves a camera in front of my face. Somehow. Some way.
Fact of the matter is, I want to be on tv. That's all I know for sure. I don't think I necessarily want to be like mom, and I know I don't want to play professionally like my dad, but I think it would be really cool to combine the two.
Maybe I could do commercials.
Or sports modeling.
I love sports. Not just basketball, but football, golf, frisbee golf, volleyball, baseball, softball, horse racing-- you name it, I love it.
I may be done playing organized basketball, but that doesn't mean I'm done immersing myself in it on a M-F, 8-5 basis.
I think what would be really cool is to have my own "behind-the-scenes" show. I want to dig a little deeper. I could interview athletes in order to find that story we all really want to know.
And then play them.
Maybe not in the sport they are paid millions to play, but in another. Just for some humor purposes. For some candid moments on camera, because that's the athlete we all want to see. The human.
Does that sound great or does that sound great?
I leave for China tonight. I get to have my Kobe farewell tour once and for all, amongst the Chinese. Upon my return, I'll be a broke working woman, struggling to find that big break in order to live out my wildest dreams.
One day I'll have that job in front of the camera, with a hunk-a-burnin-love by my side teaching little Jimmy to keep his elbow in and his wrist cocked.
If you or any of your friends know someone who can make my wildest dreams come true just a little bit faster, you know where to reach me.
Until then, I'll be in China representing Team USA. Maybe this time I can finally end with a win, and a gold medal around my neck.