It is that time of year again. No, it’s not time to sweat through your clothes thanks to 100+ degree heat. It’s that time when kids across the country are heading back to school and experiencing their first day of class.
Remember those days? Putting on the new clothes and shoes you were given that hopefully were cool enough, that moment you realized you’ve moved up in the world again and getting to see old friends you hadn’t seen in awhile.
There was something magical about that time. Especially how it all made you feel special and excited to be a part of something. Although he’s no longer going to class, Suns rookie guard Kendall Marshall got the opportunity to feel a little bit of that childlike excitement again earlier this week (minus the awkwardness of having to meet the new, slightly strange, teacher).
Marshall, who was in New York for the NBA rookie orientation and rookie photo shoot , experienced a moment he had been waiting a lifetime for.
At 2 a.m. in his hotel room he got the chance to put on the purple and orange of his first NBA uniform. (Hey, he may not be in college anymore but that doesn’t mean his sleep schedule has adjusted yet.) Like the little kid putting on his new school outfit, the former Tar Heel was excited.
“It felt huge,” Marshall said with an obvious sense of awe in his voice. “I just sat there and kind of stared at the mirror. I realized it’s real now. It was the first time it hit me that I was actually a Phoenix Sun and a member of the team. That was my opening moment that I was really in the NBA.”
While the experience of putting on the jersey for the first time was one he experienced by himself, the excitement of getting his first picture taken in said uniform was something he got to share with his friends. Like the student returning to school for the first time since summer started, Marshall got the chance to meet up with his former UNC teammates – John Henson of the Bucks, Harrison Barnes of the Warriors and Tyler Zeller of the Cavaliers – and see them in their new threads for the first time.
Despite the reality setting in that they are competitors for the first time since being on the court at North Carolina, the Suns’ rookie still was grateful for the time he got to spend with his friends.
“These are guys I’ve grown up with,” the guard explained. “Playing AAU, playing high school together, playing college with them and now we’re all making the transition to the NBA together. It’s a nice feeling.
“We’re more than just teammates we’re family. Anytime we’re able to see each other we’re excited about it. We look forward to those opportunities.”
It wasn’t all fun and games though at the orientation. There was some learning that took place as well. Marshall and his fellow rookies were exposed to the potential pitfalls of being a professional athlete.
“There’s a lot of great stuff we learned,” Marshall said. “ [It gave us] the opportunity to hear about real life events that you don’t think happen. They let you know they do happen. They gave us great examples of it. We were grateful, took advantage of it and listened to what they had to say.”
Although his first day is in the books and that excitement is now a memory, there is still plenty of learning Marshall has left to do. The best part is, as fans, we get to watch the entire education process unfold in front of our eyes in the coming months and years.