A Better Me

by Kenny Eller on October 30, 2012

Me with Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets

With my eyes focused down towards the hardwood floor, I placed one foot after the other inside my Jordan slides.  As I began to close up my gym bag, I heard someone several feet away say, “Oh, he’s getting ready to leave.  Maybe next time.”

I had just finished running some full court games with the older kids at the Orlando Hoops/Chandler Parsons basketball camp back in June.

Prior to the games, I had given my first speech (see below) on this journey that is mevsMJ.com to the group of +100 kids, coaches and players in attendance.

I was hungry.  So hungry that my stomach was yelling at me the only way a stomach knows how.

Truth is I hadn’t eaten lunch that day due to a combination of being nervous and very excited about sharing my journey with the group of young ballers.

Because of that, I had planned on leaving the camp after speaking, so that I could get some much needed nutrition before my evening basketball workout session with the college players began.

But when I heard the voice, I looked up to find Orlando Hoops founder Irwin Hudson standing there with three or four of the younger kids that were attending the camp.

Irwin smiled and said, “They wanted to play you 1-on-1.”

They want to play me??

Honestly as I sat there, I didn’t feel like playing ball at all, but I knew exactly how those young people felt as they stood there looking at me.

I’ve asked numerous NBA players to play me 1-on-1 during my journey to play Michael Jordan and every single time they’ve always had some reason or excuse that keeps them from hooping with me.

Because of that, because I know how that feels, there wasn’t anything that was going to keep me from playing basketball with those young people that day.

If they wanted to play me, I was going to play!

Four becomes 20!

As I jumped back into my Jordans and walked out on the court to play the three or four, that three or four multiplied to a group of some 20 kids that were all lined up underneath the basketball goal for their chance to play me, the guy who wants to play MJ, 1-on-1.

With the other 80 camp participants lining the exterior of the court, I began playing one game after the other to three points until everyone that wanted to play had their shot at me.

I had a blast!

What’s In It For Me?

Too often in life I think we can all be guilty of evaluating situations and opportunities with the what’s in it for me mentality?

You know the, “If it’s good for me, I’ll do it,” kind of logic.

I’m sure NBA players don’t see any benefit in playing basketball with me and at the surface I totally understand that.  I’m not a great basketball player.

At the surface there wasn’t any benefit for me to play those 20 or so young people either.  They certainly weren’t going to help me get more prepared for MJ.

But beyond the initial layer, beyond just the basketball, was more for me than I ever could have expected.

To see the excitement on their faces as they walked out to play or to hear all the kids erupt as a group if someone scored on me absolutely blew me away.

Here I was, someone that never played more than a year of high school basketball, at an NBA player’s basketball camp and because of this journey a group of young people wanted to play me! 

It was so humbling for me.  After all, I’m just a guy who believes and is willing to work harder than most and because of that I have been rewarded with such fulfilling experiences like this one in June.

Now tell me impact can’t be made!

I’ll of course never know exactly what the kids got out hooping with me, but I know I received a lot that day.

A Better Me

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’m a better version of me than I was when I began this site.

Prior to August of 2010, I don’t know if given a similar circumstance, if I would have played all of those kids.  I might have very well done what has been done to me so many times and politely gotten out of it.

Because of the struggle, because of the rejection, and because of the triumph, I see things in such a much different way today.

I am thankful for every no, just as much as I’m thankful for every yes.

I am a better me because of them both.

On my desk, in my home office, in a frame, is a small grouping of words that leans against my printer just to the right of my computer.

Those words are  “Sometimes on the way to the dream, you get lost and find a better one.

I couldn’t agree more.

Thank you for reading this writer’s words.  Thank you for believing in a guy with a dream.  Your support fuels me and for that I am so thankful!

As you venture out to where life takes you, I hope that you too find a better you.

me vs. MJ…my journey to play Michael Jordan continues!  It’s gonna happen!  As always, thank you for following along.

My Speech at the Chandler Parsons Camp

[If you are reading via email/RSS, click here to watch video]

Special thanks to Orlando Hoops and Chandler Parsons for believing in my journey!

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If you’re new here, I set out in August 2010 to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. my childhood hero Michael Jordan.  This site is about that journey…through every valley, to every mountain top of triumph!

Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!

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Connect:  Twitter (@KennyEller) and mevsMJ.com Facebook Fan Page.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave October 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

Kenny, loved your post and your story. Tell it to everyone and I am rooting for you to play MJ. You have impacted many lives. Continue growing as a person and sharing your experience with the youth of the world. I never thought that I had any impact on others and always thought of myself. Since I became a Christian I look at EVERYTHING differently. Probably wouldn’t have met you, because there was nothing in it for me. Would you like to come to the Orlando game when we play down there on the 13th? Let me know. Take care and God Bless,
DH

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Kenny Eller October 31, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thank you so much Dave! I really appreciate your support, friendship and you taking time for me on your vacation when it didn’t benefit you, a couple of years ago! I think about that quite often.

When you called yesterday morning to say that the post gave you chills, that blew me away! I guess we all underestimate the impact we make on others at times. I’m glad I woke up at 2:43 and wrote this post!

and YES, I WOULD LOVE TO COME TO THE Orlando/NY Knicks game! I will text you!

Be BLESSED! Talk with you soon!

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Charissa Eller October 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

You are such a good writer and I love this post! This journey has shifted and changed but it has been more rewarding than a straight path. I admire you for your perseverance and for being relentless in your faith. Keep on keepin on!

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Kenny Eller October 31, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thank you :-D I couldn’t do it without you! Thank you for encouraging me to write again, when I wasn’t sure that anyone really cared to read. The positive response has been far greater than I could have expected on this post.

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John S. October 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Great post Kenny! I think just like you, I too, have grown into a different person while pursuing my goals. While I become more mature, I’ve realized that while my own goals are important for my own happiness, the journey should also include helping those in their goals too.

One of my mantras is to Always Practice Kindness. Kindness to me is an umbrella of many things which also includes exactly what you did when sharing your time even though you really weren’t up for it. And you’re right, we as humans are kind of wired to think “what’s in it for me?”. For the last couple of years, although it’s still not exactly second nature yet, I try to say to myself, “what if that person had a bad day. Imagine the smile you could possibly put on their face and in their heart”.

Helping others, whether it be a one-on-one basketball game to young kids or offering $5 to someone looking for a meal, the reward could be so major we just don’t even know. I think you impacted those kids in a way you’ll never get to know. Imagine when you do get to play MJ and those kids get to say, wow, I remember when he talked about it and now he did it! I can do anything too!

Because with faith and hard work anything is possible! :)

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Kenny Eller October 31, 2012 at 8:22 am

Thank you John! When I began this journey, every person that would brush me aside or say no, every NBA player that would say they would do something and then back out, it all upset me. Then as things began unfolding, the “no’s” barely have impact now. I understand their purpose and realize that they are part of the journey.

I LOVE your mantra. Man, I always tell people never underestimate the power and value of kind words. I know when someone takes the time to comment on a post, to send me a positive text, to do anything really out of kindness, it has such a positive impact on me. So thank you for taking the time to be kind and comment. Thank you for also being a positive person in the World…we need you out there man!

“I think you impacted those kids in a way you’ll never get to know. Imagine when you do get to play MJ and those kids get to say, wow, I remember when he talked about it and now he did it! I can do anything too!”

That is the goal that I have and my hopeful impact on EVERY SINGLE PERSON that knows about this site.

And yes, Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!

Thanks man! Have an amazing day!

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Justin October 31, 2012 at 7:06 am

Awesome post. Its not about the destination or the end but about enjoying the journey. Its great to see someone like you sharing their positive experiences. Good spreading that good energy and let your actions be your ministry. Love you bro.

Justin

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Kenny Eller October 31, 2012 at 8:29 am

My main man! You are so right bro, but it sure did take me some time to truly understand that. It was something easier for me to say that it was to live. I remember when a certain NBA All-Star said he would do something and then never did, we talked about it and you said something like,

“What if your interaction with him isn’t to help YOU, but to help HIM? That WHEN you play MJ, he will see the story and think, wait I know this guy and I could have helped him, but I didn’t.”

I ALWAYS think about that and it’s helped me come to terms with my purpose here.

Thanks for the support man! Looking forward to you putting me through an NBA workout tomorrow!

Much love!

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