#5: “Is Making It In Basketball Hard?” YES! [WOYG Podcast]

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How hard is it, really, to make it as a basketball player? How good do I have to be? How much competition is there? Who can I help my own chances? What ARE my chances?
In this episode of the Work On Your Game podcast, Dre Baldwin shares the truths about making it as a basketball player, based off of his 9-year professional basketball career playing internationally.


“Is Making It In Basketball Hard?” Yes!

My name is Dre Baldwin but many people know me as “DreAllDay”. I started playing basketball when I was 14 years old and I finally made the team in high school as a senior. During the whole season, I only scored 15 points. I still walked into a college basketball team but then I didn’t even finish playing all 4 years because I had conflicts with one of my coaches. This didn’t stop me because I still ended up going pro at the age of 23.

Athletes and basketball players are asking me all the time,

“Dre, how hard is it to make it in basketball?”

“How hard is it to make varsity?”

“How hard is it to play D1, D2 or D3?”

“How hard is it to make the D-League?”

“How hard is it to go to a professional basketball exposure camp?”

“How hard is it to become a pro in basketball?”

Players are always asking me these types of questions that aren’t really quantifiable.

When players ask me, “How easy is it to make a team in college?”

I can’t really answer that because what is easy for me might be hard for you, and vice versa.

If you’re asking a question, “How hard or how easy is it to accomplish something?”

This brings me doubt as to how serious you are about doing it. 

Is making it in basketball hard?

Yes; Making it in basketball is hard. The meaning of “hard” is that most people are not going to do it. I’m saying that most people are incapable and are unable to “make it” – “Making it” means playing basketball for money. 99.9% of people who have ever picked up a basketball in their life will never make money playing basketball. There are reasons why it is difficult to achieve, but there are some things that you would want to start doing, both mentally and physically, to get yourself in a position where you can be one of that 0.01% who actually does make it.

First of all, you need to understand that there is no fixed way of getting there in basketball. There’s no path laid out whereby doing A, B, C, D, E, and F,  guarantees your success.

You could go to Division I and not become a professional player;

You can go to Division III and become a professional player just like I did;

You could have a scholarship to college and not be a pro.

You could be a walk-on at a JUCO and still end up being a pro;

You can have parents who played basketball and not make it;

You can have parents who never touched the basketball, like mine, and still, make it.

There is no set path. There’s no book, guidebook or handbook that you can buy on the Internet that says, “If you do these things, it is guaranteed that you will “make it” as a basketball player.”

There are no guaranteed steps.

From my experience, most people, which encompasses the 500,000 comments, emails and private messages I received over the past 10 years being online, building my brand, and sharing this information, will do nothing unless somebody tells them exactly what to do step-by-step and then guarantee them a result. There are no guaranteed results when it comes to making it in basketball – or in life. If that’s what you’re looking for, then making it in basketball is not for you.

There are a ton of people playing basketball but less than 3% of high school basketball players will get to play college basketball. Let’s think of the players on a team or league and then multiply that by every city and town in all of the 50 States in the United States of America – and we’re just talking about the USA. Based on that population, less than 3% will be able to play college basketball and then, from all those playing college basketball right now, there is less than 1% that will ever be able to draw a paycheck from the sport.

The first thing that you need to understand if you want to make it as a basketball player is this:

Yes, there is competition out there;

No, it is not going to be easy;

Yes, there’s a lot of people you have to get passed in order to get your spot.

Here’s the second thing you need to understand: Basketball is a buyer’s market.

Being a “buyer’s market” means that there are more people trying to sell products than there are people trying to buy products. For example, if you went to a farmer’s market and there are 10 stands selling red apples, and there are only 2 potential buyers, you and someone else; who has the power – the sellers or the buyers?

The answer is the buyers. As the buyer, you have the power because each of you has 10 options to choose from,. whereas each one of those sellers only has 2 options and they have to be chosen. The choosing is done by the person with the money.

It’s the exact same thing in professional basketball.

Right now, there are over 100,000 players who want to play professional basketball alive but how many jobs are there?

I’d say that there are anywhere between 1,000 to 10,000 jobs worldwide in basketball. The teams who give the contracts and pay the money hold the power because they have a choice. They have 100,000 players to choose from when it’s time for them to hire someone for a job.

You don’t have a choice.

You don’t have 10,000 teams reaching out to you, so you must create your opportunities. Like a buyer’s market, nobody owes you a job and you must get, obtain and create your opportunities in basketball. They will not be created for you. Like a buyer’s market, they choose and you get chosen.

If you look at the reasons that it’s hard and you focus on them, you are going to create your own obstacles. That is the law of attraction; what you focus on, you create. If you focus on every reason why this might not work out the right way, then that’s exactly what you’re going to be faced with – all of the reasons it won’t work out.

On the other hand, if you choose to focus on something different – why this could work out, your real reason for wanting to go professional, what great things will come from the fact that you make it as a professional – and use those visualization techniques to think about the positive things, you can be proactive and practice daily actions that could get you at least a tiny step closer to “making it”. If you focus on those things instead, you’re going to start creating them.

Is there a guarantee that you’re going to be successful or that you’re going to make it?

No, I’m not here to offer you any guarantees.

The only guarantee I am able to offer you is that I will show you the reality. That includes both the good side and the bad side of everything that I decided to talk about. I’m not guaranteeing that you’re going to make it in basketball. The only way you can guarantee it is to keep going, not quitting, and to keep working to get to the position that you want to be in.

In conclusion, is making it in basketball hard?

Yes, it’s hard to make it in basketball.

Do you know how I came to know this?

Because If I talk to 100 basketball players, 99 of them haven’t made it.

You need to understand that most players are not going to make it in basketball. You can’t make sure that you will make it but you can make sure that you don’t do what most players do, which is focusing on the negatives, waiting for an opportunity to come to them, expecting somebody to hand opportunities to them for no reason, believing that it’s a sellers market when it’s not. Those are the things that most people do. You obviously don’t want to be like most people; so, focus on the positives and on the things that you actually want to create.

2 Comments

  1. Focus on what you can do, work on developing yourself into the best version of you. Have a plan to get known, be great with people, offer value and keep developing yourself and your skills and the odds of making it will be in your favour.

    I’ll be here listening, learning, taking notes and applying until the day you stop producing these Dre. Even then I’ll still be back listening to keep my mind fresh and free of everyday clutter.

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