Isaiah Austin Picked 15-1/2th in NBA Draft
In a classy move, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver selected Isaiah Austin in the middle of the first round of the 2014 draft.
AP/ESPN (“NBA selects Isaiah Austin in draft“):
Between the 15th and 16th picks in Thursday night’s draft came a very special selection by the NBA.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced at that point that the NBA would let Isaiah Austin fulfill the dream of every young player, making him a ceremonial pick.
Just over a week ago, the sophomore center from Baylor was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart. It ended his playing career.
The illness was discovered during a physical for the draft.
“For Commissioner Silver to even invite me here was a tremendous blessing and it just shows how much class that man has,” Austin said. “It’s really been a tough week for me, and it’s been really rough. I’ve just had a tremendous amount of support from everybody around the world, telling me they’re praying for me and everything. I can’t thank everybody enough.”
The crowd at Barclays Center rose to its feet as Austin, sitting in the waiting area with most of the first-round picks, hugged family members and put on a generic NBA cap. He went up to the stage and posed with Silver, just as all the drafts picks do when they are called.
During the season, the 7-foot-1 Austin revealed he had a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations couldn’t repair a detached retina.
Austin, expected to be a high pick when healthy, said he felt he has “a great story to share.” He said Baylor coach Scott Drew has already offered him a coaching position with the Bears.
“I have a whole life ahead of me,” Austin said. “I’m not going to sit here and I’m not going to sulk about not being able to play basketball anymore, because I can still be involved with the game somehow or some way.”
Austin said there was plenty to enjoy on what would have been his draft day.
“Just being around all the draftees and seeing my friends get drafted, it just brings joy in my heart because I know how hard we work to get to this point,” Austin said. “I’ve been through it. … Just to see how people persevere through their own problems, because everybody has their own problems. It’s touching and it’s heart-warming, really.”
A damned decent gesture.