To set the record straight, I'm his BIG sister.
Sure, he may have me in height and intellect and quick-wittedness, but I have him in months.
18 to be exact.
When we were younger we used to be mistaken for twins.
We may not be twins, but we've been best friends ever since his arrival, 18 months after mine.
I know it might be confusing to most since we graduated in the same year and all, but I believe it to be quite fitting, being that we've been in most of the same classes our whole lives.
Luke is a rare breed.
Year by year, he made a solid "100%" in all of my math classes. Yes, he was in my math classes.
He may have gotten a perfect score on the math portion of his SAT & ACT, and he may have racked up every possible academic award at our annual academic banquet, but what I always had on him was athletics.
5 years ago I was making the guy crutch around from official visit to official visit.
From All-American Game to first tip-off of my freshman year.
5 minutes from now he'll be walking through the door after another morning pick-up session with Melo.
In New York City.
It feels funny typing. For several reasons:
1.) "New York City"
I have to admit-- ever since age 8 I've been spoiled.
It's 100% likely that before the age of 8 I was spoiled too, but that's neither here nor there.
Ever since I was 8, my mom took me to New York for an annual mother/daughter girl’s trip.
We never brought the boys.
The one time we did take the boys a homeless man berated Luke outside of Grand Central Station and he was scarred from that moment on.
I tried to mend his fragile heart with Serendipity sundaes, the Nintendo Store, the clearance rack at the NBA Store and handmade signature signs of his favorite baseball team, but his heart could not be wooed.
For the first time, Nicole and Luke were at a crossroads.
I was a big city girl, and he was a small-town boy.
I'm now 23, and after a 5-year absence from the Big Apple due to a little round ball, a little round ball has brought me back in a round-a-bout way.
2.) The New York Knicks
Now this is really where it gets funny.
Let's flashback to the night of the NBA Draft.
We were at our house in Lexington, Kentucky and my entire family was over. "Entire family" insinuates grandma, grandpa, Godfather Larry, cousin Joey, crazy Steve, and many, many more.
Before the draft kicked off, we each put the name of the team we thought Luke would get drafted to in a big bowl.
I was the only one who put down the New York Knicks.
Because New York City has been my favorite city ever since I was 8. LA has been creeping up as of late, but the heart knows where its loyalty lies.
I put down the New York Knicks because Jeff Hornacek is head coach.
Jeff Hornacek played for the Jazz when my dad played for the Bucks.
Jeff Hornacek lived in Phoenix when the Kornets lived in Phoenix.
Jeff Hornacek was the head coach of St. Thomas’ 5th grade girl’s basketball team at the time.
Frank Kornet was the head coach of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s 5th grade girl’s basketball team at the time.
In other words, Jeff and Frank both had daughters in the 5th grade.
Daughters that played each other in back-to-back-to-back Catholic school girl's basketball tournaments year after year after year.
Daughters that, with Coach Hornacek at the helm, joined forces to nearly lead the Air Angelz to a Summer League championship, had we not lost to the all-boys team in the final game.
You win again testosterone.
10 years later, and we're still bitter.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to put a team name in the bowl on draft night, I had to go with my gut—The New York Knicks.
For what seemed to be like four hours and an eternity later, the draft concluded.
He didn’t get picked.
But as soon as the last pick was selected, Luke’s phone rang.
And then it rang again. And again. And again.
And then finally, it was an offer that Luke couldn’t refuse.
The decision was final—Luke was going to be a New York Knick.
3.) Pick-up with Carmelo
I remember when Carmelo and LeBron were drafted. They were the talk of the town.
Still wonder why.
I don't start my job at UCLA until October 1st, so I have the entire month of September off.
I've been in New York for a week now.
Every morning Luke wakes up at 7am and comes home just after 3pm. I've had the best week. And that sounds crazy coming from a girl who was hospitalized day two of the trip.
As my mother calls me, a"natural" beauty
I came down with a mean case of pneumonia and perhaps a few other ailments, but again, that's neither here nor there.
From what I thought was going to be a month long of perusing the city on my tandem bike for one, galavanting the streets of NY during fashion week, and drinking mimosas with the fashion icon himself, Mr. Russell Westbrook, my week has drastically turned into quite the opposite.
Picture a stoic, bedridden, greasy-haired "beauty" glued to the TV.
This week's features have included Hercules, Leah Remini's Scientology and the Aftermath, roughly 97 episodes of The Office, and a few gut-wrenching showings of Beyond Scared Straight.
Luke and I have had a lot of alone time this past week.
And he's loved every second of it.
Even with the past five years of off and on separation, we've covered a lot of ground.
Just like we never left.
The guy still loves to show me YouTube videos I refuse to call funny, impersonate scenes of Westside Story in the living room, and sleep in his Tom Brady pajamas.
My favorite part, though?
When he comes home from playing pick-up with Melo.
“Nicole, I'm playing against these guys who used to be on my 2K teams, and I'm like 'ah, that's neat' but then I realize they're on the other team and I kinda hate them at that moment."
Nowadays we all try and act like we've been there. It's all about one-upping the other guy. But that show gets tiring. That show's all an act. What's cool is being your authentic self. What's cool is being grateful about the opportunity you've been given, and making the most of it.
It hurt him when he didn't get drafted.
For a minute.
After a minute, he got up, smiled at all of us and said, "I'm going to New York."
Sometimes the most devastating blows turn into the most beautiful unknowns, when you have the mindset of a Luke Kornet.
He doesn't care what everyone thinks. He knows who he is.
He doesn't care who he's playing against. He knows what he can do.
He doesn't care how many likes he gets on a picture. That's if his girlfriend and I can even get him to post a picture.
He doesn’t care if his friends are NBA champions like Damian Jones or former 8th grade B-team slot receivers like Daniel Fife. He loves people for their hearts, not their names.
Heck, he doesn't even care if his cowlicks stick up like Alfafa all day.
Even though it makes his sister cringe.
Pre-hair quaffage seconds before The King takes center court.
He cares about the things that matter. And that's what I admire most about my little brother, and will always admire about my little brother.
It’s been so fun to watch him in his new life.
The way he shops for himself, cooks for himself, takes care of himself, and even brushes his hair all by himself now truly amazes me.
Craziest part of it all is that he knows the city better than big sis now, and he hasn't even been here a month yet. He watches Broadway shows and doesn't roll his eyes during the musical numbers now.
He loves NYC and what he gets to do for it now.
He's a professional basketball player for the New York Knicks.
Who will always be my little brother.