Bursts of patriotism and excited chants greeted FSU star Bernard James as he was drafted into the NBA last week.
“USA, USA, USA”
Before finding fame on the hardwood James served six years in the US Air Force, including three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar. He might still be there had it not been for his military supervisor.
“He asked me if I played basketball, and I was like no, not really and he was like, you do now,” said James.
James dropped out of high school at 16, having never played organized basketball. One year later he joined the Air Force. He was 6’5. During his service James grew five more inches, catching the attention of FSU scouts.
“Really the plan was to get a college degree and go back in the Air Force as a commission officer,” said James.
James rose to the rank of staff sergeant, but his athletic accolades began to overshadow his military service. James lead FSU to the Sweet 16 his junior year and won a conference championship the next. NBA scouts noticed, and last Thursday, with the crowd cheering him on, James became a professional basketball player.
“I’m a patriot. I love seeing other people’s patriotism. So, it was big to see all of the fans come together and chant USA when I was drafted,” said James.
From the battlefield to the basketball court, James is now in the national spotlight and continues to serve his country as an ambassador for the US military. He even has a patriotic nickname… His fans call him, The Sergeant.
James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but later traded to the Dallas Mavericks where he will begin workouts June 11th. The Mavs won the 2011 NBA championship beating the Miami Heat in the finals.