Transparency 230

by Kenny Eller on May 5, 2013

Inside_the_Blueprint_2013Microphone in hand, speaking to the greatest basketball player to ever lace them up, sitting just 20 or so feet away in a plush lounge chair, my voice begins to carry throughout the room…

Hi, my name is Kenny Eller.  I came up from Orlando, Florida to attend the event tonight, so first of all, thank you for doing this.  It’s really great.

I have a website and its goal is…

The Unintentional Invite

Just after eight post meridiem on February 26th, I received an email from the Charlotte Bobcats inviting me to an exclusive event, Inside the Blueprint, hosted by Michael Jordan, on March 19th.

Within minutes, I had sent back my Répondez S’il Vous Plaît, made travel arrangements (I live just outside of Orlando, FL – event was in Charlotte, NC) and called my Mom to invite her to come with me and meet MJ.

Here was another opportunity to make this dream a reality.  On top of that, I’d be able to offer an amazing experience for my Mom.  The last NBA game she attended…a Jordan game of course.  Yes, she’s a fan.  A Jordan fan.

Then the next morning, things got rather interesting.

Around 10 am, I received a voicemail from the Bobcats letting me know that I wasn’t supposed to receive the invite that had come my way the night before.  To blame, a “glitch” in the marketing system.

The event was to be ultra exclusive, reserved for only the top tier of season ticket holders, and while I am a premium season ticket holder for the Bobcats (I donate the majority of my tickets back to the Charlotte Bobcats charitable organization Cats Care), I didn’t fall into the qualifying category for this event.

In fact, only 229 people did.

Obviously I was disappointed and bothered by the quick change in circumstances and after some discussion with the Bobcats, they decided to place me on a waiting list for the event.

In the end, the staff for the Bobcats felt horrible about the mixup and two weeks later, called to let me know that they would honor my initial invitation, making me guest #230!

Coincidence!?!?  Naaaaa!

Inside the Blueprint

I arrived at the arena just before 7 pm, dressed in a dark blue suit, Jordans on my feet.

There was an open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres outlining a grouping a white linened standing tables.  To one side, a small stage, with four empty, plush, lounge chairs.  It was very well put together.

The goal for the gathering was to give insight as to the plans of the management team to the top tier of ticket holders in a private forum (no media invited) and to secure everyone’s support for the future.  The event took place right around season ticket renewal time.

After 3o or so minutes of drinks and small eats, out came MJ and the crew, as they made their way on stage.

With Michael, was General Manager Rich Cho and team President and COO Fred Whitfield.  Bruce Bowen was moderating.

Bowen went through a series of questions, meant to touch on just about any topic that a fan might have on their mind.  In succession, he went from MJ, to Rich, to Fred and did so three times.  They were pointed questions, softballs by no means, and the answering parties were very candid, detailed and sincere in their responses.

Following the prearranged questioning, Bowen told those in attendance that they would open it up to questions.  He confirmed that anything could be asked.  There were no limits.

He asked that anyone with a question raise their hand and one of two gentlemen with microphones on each side of the room would come over and allow our voice to be heard.

Hand to the Sky

Like a rocket, my hand went to the sky.

My small table of three, was positioned just one back from the stage.  That had really happened by coincidence, as I ran into one the camp participants from last summer who was standing at that table.  As we were catching up, MJ and his team had made their way on stage.

Just to the left of me, one table in front, the microphone made its way to the first voice.  While the man began asking his question, the gentleman escorting the mic around, gestured over to me that he was coming to me next.

When Your Dream is in the Room

When your dream is in the room, when it’s just mere feet away, you’d like to think that you know how you’d handle it.  You’d like to believe that when it’s so close you can touch it, that you would capture it, seize it and make it a reality.

But until you’re there.  Until your dream is looking back at you, you really don’t know how you will react.

Did I know what I was going to ask?  No, not really.  Was I nervous?  Absolutely, but I think that’s natural.

For me, as I’ve touched on before, my life experiences aid me in moments like this.  On a daily basis I meet with people, some of whom I’ve never met and ask a lot of questions to help me better understand their goals and aspirations in relation to managing their assets.  I’m used to asking questions and dealing with people.  I enjoy it.

Prior to working in private wealth management, I spent four years in sports television.  I asked a lot of questions there too.

Having said that, television was years ago and the people I help today aren’t Michael Jordan.

Still, I have some sort of a foundation of comfort established.

Still, I knew as the microphone made its way over to me, that all I can do in any moment is give my best.  My effort is the only thing I can control.

Seize the Moment

As the gentleman stood next to me, with mic in hand, the second question of the evening came from across the room.

While we stood there listening, the young man with the microphone was approached by someone from the organization, who whispered in his ear.

Moments later, he leaned over to me and asked, “What’s your question?”

With a slightly irritated smirk, I responded, “It’s not about the website.”

He followed up with, “Oh no, they just want to make sure that any question asked is appropriate for the setting.”

I let him know my line of thinking and assured him that it would be fine.

I was irritated because I know that what I’m looking to accomplish is a great thing.  Beyond the game is proof that anything is possible and I want to show everyone that you can, in life, live your dreams, if you believe and work tremendously hard.

At the same time, I understood their fear.

Here I was, a guy with a website to play their owner, the Jumpman, the Legend, the GOAT, at an exclusive event I wasn’t meant to be invited to and NOW I was about to have the mic in my hand.

Their worst fears, had come true.  Honestly, I would have been afraid too, if I were them.  That is, if I didn’t understand the bigger purpose.  If I didn’t know, who Kenny Eller is.

My Question for MJ

My singular goal in asking my question was for Michael to know that I’m there.  I knew at this point that HE knew who Kenny Eller was.  His son Marcus confirmed as much, months earlier.  This would be our fourth interaction since I began this journey.

I also wanted to craft my words to him in a way that fit the setting and yet still accomplished the goal.

This is what came from my mouth.

Hi, my name is Kenny Eller.  I came up from Orlando, Florida to attend the event tonight, so first of all, thank you for doing this.  It’s really great.

I have a website and its goal is to inspire others by showing that anything is possible with faith & hard work.  So I believe.  Having said that,  I understand that any time you are chasing something great, it can be tough but I’ve found for myself that the process or the journey is where the joy is often found.

Michael are you able to enjoy the process of building this team, with the financial burden that comes along with owning the team?

Oh and (now raising my foot) I’ve got my J’s on if you want to make the other part happen and show what’s possible.

MJ Responds

The “I’ve got my J’s on” got a laugh from Michael and from those in attendance.

For the next three or four minutes, Jordan answered my question at leeeeeeength.  He gave examples of the ups and downs, the triumphs and struggles.

He didn’t touch the challenge.

The panel took just two more questions and the event was over.

Exit Stage Right

After thanking everyone for coming, MJ and the others exited the stage and made their way out of the event.

Their exit was the same way myself and those in attendance would exit, to a point, and with him being Michael Jordan, even amongst the upper echelon of income earners, MJ creates a buzz.  He stopped just off stage to take a photo with two small kids and from there, just about everyone wanted a piece…in a rather polite, controlled, I’m important too, manner.

I made my way over to Michael.  Each time someone would grab his attention for a few seconds and then he would make another few strides to his exit point.

After two failed attempts, I decided to walk out ahead of the group and wait for him to come my way.

I just wanted to get his thoughts on the site.  To see if he was up to making this dream a reality.

MJ was having no part of it on this night.

Why This Post Was Delayed

The reason it has taken until now for me to write these words, is because what happened that night was the first time I questioned this journey.

I know Michael saw me as I tried to get his attention.  I know that he knows who I am.

The fact that he wasn’t willing to take time or say what’s up, as he walked by, when he stopped at least five times to take pictures with others and two or three times to sign autographs, bothered me.

Bothered me, not because I feel he owes it to me.  It bothered me because it was the first time I felt that perhaps MJ wasn’t feeling my journey.

I will put truck loads of effort into mevsMJ.com and prove that anything is possible with faith & hard work, but not if it makes Michael Jordan uncomfortable.

That’s not the goal.

Over Analyzing the Moment

I’m an analytical guy.  A thinker.

I’m a Jordan fan.  Someone who wants to motivate and inspire.

Disappointed, I thought, maybe MJ isn’t feeling it.

On the other hand, maybe he didn’t stop, because he knew I didn’t want a picture or an autograph, I wanted time.  I wanted to set the game up.  I wanted to show what’s possible.  It would be a conversation, not a moment.

Maybe he was having a rough day.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever know what he was thinking that night.

What I do know, is that I in no way want to be viewed by him as some crazed fan traveling all over in pursuit of him.

While that may appear to be the case to someone just stumbling across this site, anyone who knows me or has invested any time in reading what I’ve written, understands that that clearly isn’t what is going on here.

Transparency 230

Up until now, this journey has been pretty unbelievably amazing, even for me.  I had hoped that this event would be more of the same.  I had hoped that MJ would see me, laugh like he did at the camp when we discussed this site, and at the very least throw out some verbal jab, like “You are not ready!”

I hoped that I’d be able to report back and show that dreams come true.

This is the reality though.  This is me being transparent.  I thought about quitting.

I had initially planned on heading out to Vegas a few weeks later and attending his Celebrity Golf Tournament.  A friend of mine just so happened to be able to line up VIP passes to all the private events.

I decided against going.  I wanted to take time to think and make sure that I’m still doing this for all the right reasons.  I didn’t want MJ to see me in Vegas and think, this dude is ridiculous.

I contemplated stopping.

I thought about everyone that follows me and how I’d be letting them down.  I thought about how I’d break my promise to show that Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work.

I barely shut my eyes that night.

A Greater Purpose

I shared my experience with just a few friends via text and phone calls.  Each of them could read and hear the weight of my experience.  They encouraged me.  They did their best to do what friends do.  My family did the same.

Then I received a text from one of them that snapped me out of it.  Not right away, but over the next few days.

The text read, “Did you ever think that maybe you weren’t there for basketball tonight?  Did you ever consider that you were there to speak Faith into Michael’s or someone else’s life in that room?”

Another friend, “He may not have addressed your challenge, but there is no doubt in my mind, when he goes to sleep tonight, he will be thinking about the message that you shared.”

My eyes welled up with tears and my belief stood up.

For some time I’ve felt like there was a much greater purpose at work here than a game of basketball.  I’ve shared that before.

Here I was in front of Michael Jordan and a group of people that night, talking about FAITH.

That wasn’t me prior to this journey.  Before mevsMJ.com, I never would have felt comfortable saying anything like that to a friend, much less Jordan.  This journey has shown me so much.  It’s given me examples that are beyond my explanation – this event another example (Unintentional invite, get to go, and then one of five people that gets the chance to ask a question).  Now I’m not trying to push a Bible on anyone, but the whole purpose of this site was to share my experience and my experience has bolstered my faith.

If that offends or makes you stop reading and supporting, so be it.

It’s Not all Roses and Rainbows

I’ve come to understand with vivid clarity, that as I trek up the mountain towards my dreams, the path isn’t going to be lined with roses and rainbows.  There is going to be disappointment.  There are going to be circumstances that challenge you to the core.

It’s how you react to those challenges that matters.

Still Going

It’s Cinco De Mayo, nearly a month and a half since all of this happened.  While some unanswered questions remain, I’m rejuvenated.  I’m training.  I’m believing.

Look, it wasn’t all bad of course.  I did get to interact with MJ again.  I also got to spend quality time with my Mom!  Both of those are great things!

I was also able to speak to one of his closest allies and Bobcats President, Fred Whitfeild, and share my journey with him.  He gave me his card and asked me to email him.  I have done so.  No response to date.

So to the question most everyone wants to know.

When will I play Michael Jordan?

I really don’t know, but what I do know, is that you should never say never.

As Michael has said in the past, “Never say never, cause limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

me vs. Michael Jordan…the journey continues.

1 Game – me vs. Michael Jordan – Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!

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  • Me and my Mom at her first NBA game since MJ played.
  • MJ on stage during event.
  • MJ after the event.
  • Fred Whitfield's business card.

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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 Page.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Scotti May 9, 2013 at 8:51 am

Very emotional experience Kenny! You are inspirational to many on a daily basis and I am glad you didn’t decide to give up!

Reply

Kenny Eller Kenny Eller May 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thank you Scotti! 😀 I appreciate your kind words! Thank you!

Reply

NG May 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

You have already accomplished more than you ever dreamed that you would be able to achieve, your actions and thoughts have inspired millions of people and will continue to do so….. You have met MJ, He knows who Kenny is mevsmj is something that Disney would make a great movie….. However you know MJ has a more than ridiculous lifestyle to comprehend he isn’t like a normal NBA LEGEND, that GOAT is a MAJOR BUSINESS GUY. GOOD WORK THOUGH!!!! You still achieve greater dreams than me….LOL

Reply

Kenny Eller Kenny Eller May 10, 2013 at 6:49 am

Thanks Nate. Disney contacted me, but I told them I’m not done yet 😉 Kidding of course.

I think what you’re touching on is very true. It is at the end of the day, most likely, a business decision for MJ, rather than just a “I’ll do it cause I think it’s cool.” Business man or not…Legend or not…we are all still people. At least that’s what I’m counting on. 😀

Keep after those dreams! It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re going!

Reply

Donna May 11, 2013 at 7:57 am

Kenny! Don’t give up. You are not finished yet, lets see what else this journey brings you.

Reply

Kenny Eller Kenny Eller May 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thanks Donna! Definitely not giving up! Thanks for the support!

Reply

Julie May 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Kenny, I have been following your story for quite some time. And I just feel your journey and story is much bigger than basketball or playing MJ. I check back quite often not to see if you have played him yet but to hear about your faith, drive, determination and whose life you have touched this week etc. Its inspirational and contagious. And to hear of you giving up would be way worse than to hear you never played him. So keep on keeping on and I can’t wait to read all about where this journey takes you!!

Reply

Kenny Eller Kenny Eller May 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Thank you Julie! I appreciate your support greatly. Thank you for the kind words. They mean a lot to me!

Reply

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