For NBA hopefuls like Noah Vonleh, the evening of the NBA Draft is organized chaos.
The whole process looks seamless to those of us watching from the comfort of our couches: Commissioner Adam Silver calls Vonleh’s name and gives the athlete a handshake—one that changes his life forever. Vonleh bangs out a two-question interview. Then he presumably goes off to celebrate by rolling around in a bed full of money. Right?
It’s not so simple.
We should know—STACK was invited to follow Vonleh from the moment he became a Charlotte Hornet. Just about every ensuing minute was occupied. From the second Vonleh left the bowels of the Barclays Center through his mad dash around the media circuit, here’s everything that happened after Vonleh was drafted.
Vonleh is selected with the 9th pick by the Charlotte Hornets. It’s somewhat surprising, considering that he didn’t even work out for the team.
After shaking Commissioner Silver’s hand, posing for a picture and flying through a few on-camera interviews right off the stage, Vonleh exits the bright lights on the floor of the stadium and enters its “guts,” the area where NBA staff, Barclays’ security and media scurry to pull the whole event off. As Vonleh passes under the bleachers, an entourage materializes around him that includes an NBA staffer who acts as his guide, a videographer and two folks I assume are his agent and publicist.
The obligations begin. Vonleh and his entourage turn a corner under the Barclays Center, and someone hands him a Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket wrapped in plastic. The group stops momentarily while Vonleh dons the jacket and snaps a quick photo with the gear on. Take a look at Vonleh’s Twitter account, and it becomes clear why he’s doing it: he’s working with the brand.
Vonleh removes the jacket, hands it to a member of his crew and continues deeper into the Barclays Center. He enters another hallway, this one teeming with media. Some shove cameras in his face and lob different versions of the same question in his face: “How are you feeling right now?” Others simply thrust their hands forward with a smile and a “Congratulations!” He answers the questions, shakes the hands and never breaks stride. He’s remarkably calm, but that has been his theme for the day.
Vonleh reaches the end of the hallway and folds himself into a chair off a side door to a media room. Behind the menacing glare of a security guard, he steals a private moment for a phone call, while two of the closest members of his team type away furiously on their cell phones.
Break’s over. Vonleh’s NBA handler usher him into a press conference where reporters lob questions at him for five minutes. A few highlights are below:
Reporter: How does it feel to be picked by Michael Jordan?
NV: It’s a great feeling being picked by the greatest to play the game. He obviously saw something in me. I didn’t even come into Charlotte to work out. I guess he saw something in me and ended up choosing me. I’m very blessed and excited.
Reporter: What are you looking forward to most about playing at the Garden in Boston?
NV: It’s going to be great playing in front of family and friends. A lot of people thought I’d be playing in the NBA, and now it’s finally here.
Reporter: I love the bow tie. How’d you come up with the suit?
NV: Thanks. I just wanted to come up with something different. A lot of colors look great on me, so I just wanted to do something different. I went with the bow tie to do something different, also.
Reporter: Can you tie your own bow tie?
NV: I can’t do it myself [laughs].
His general media time ends, and he’s able to steal a quick catch-up conversation with STACK.
You’ve been asked this a million times, but how are you feeling right now?
I’m very excited. I’m just glad it’s over with. I don’t have to go three months guessing where I’m playing. I’m happy I’m in Charlotte. I’m happy they picked me up. I didn’t get a chance to work out with them, but I’m glad they saw some potential and picked me up.
Is there anything specific you want to work on before you start working with Charlotte?
I’m going to keep working on the same things. Hopefully they like what I can do and how it’ll fit into their system.
What do you anticipate being different between college and life in the NBA?
I heard there is a lot more free time. In college you have to worry about classes and things like that. In the NBA, you have practice and you have to worry about taking care of your body.
What’s the plan for tomorrow?
I’m flying out to Charlotte, I guess.
Vonleh heads from the press conference to the video interview room. He’s greeted by a new round of media shoving cameras and handshakes at him. Reporters continue to lob the same questions his way, hoping for a salacious quote to spice up their website, blog or magazine. Vonleh answers them in stride with the same cool confidence he has displayed all night.
Vonleh arrives at the Live Shot room, where he answers still more questions.
Total Time Elapsed: 26 Minutes
Vonleh spoke to more people in that half-hour than most people do in a week. And his obligations continued deeper into the night as he fielded more reporters’ questions. If his NBA career is as successful as he hopes it will be, the NBA Draft is only the first of many nights as busy as this one.
It looks like he’ll handle it just fine.