At 16 years old, Frank Ntilikina came to the United States for the first time to compete in the Jordan Brand Classic. At the tournament, the young French prospect got to meet the man behind the brand, Michael Jordan.
"I had no idea I was even going to meet him. I was nobody. Well, not a nobody. Like, how you say … J'étais juste un mec normal," Ntilikina wrote in the Players' Tribune. "Just a normal dude. Sixteen years old. Skinny basketball player from Strasbourg, France."
When Ntilikina made it to the tournament and saw Jordan for the first time, he approached the NBA Hall of Famer and asked what was the key to his long and successful career.
"What you have to do is love basketball," Jordan told Ntilikina. "You can't be great unless you really love the game. Once you love basketball more than anyone else in the world, then you're willing to sacrifice. You're willing to wake up early. You're willing to do what it takes to be the best. But first, you have to really love it."
Fast forward three years, and after playing professionally in France, Ntilikina officially declared for the NBA Draft. His dream came true when he was selected by the Knicks with the eighth pick.
"I was good until I got backstage with my family. Then I cried," Ntilikina recalls. "We had to get back on the plane to France that night so I could play in the finals, and when we were in the air, I said to my mom, 'O.K., all your sons have reached their dreams. Now you can relax.'"
Ntilikina is excited to get things going in the NBA, but he isn't sure of what to expect during his rookie season.
"How good do you think you can be? What is your ceiling?" I don't know the answer," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen in the NBA. But I do know that I really love the game more than anything."