Right before announcing the 16th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday night, league commissioner Adam Silver recognized the career of Baylor University center Isaiah Austin, bringing the big man to tears. In fact, the entire crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn rose to its feet in a rousing standing ovation for the sophomore.
Austin captured the nation’s attention Sunday, when he sadly announced that his dream of playing in the NBA was over after being diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Marfan syndrome, which affects the body's connective tissue, produced an enlarged aorta in Austin’s body that left him in danger of dying if he continued his basketball career.
On Thursday night, Silver made sure to give Austin his NBA Draft moment.
“You may have heard of Isaiah,” Silver announced at the draft podium. “He’s one of the nation’s best collegiate players and was expected to be picked tonight before the discovery just a few days ago that he had a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome and is no longer able to play competitive basketball. Like the other young men here tonight, Isaiah committed himself to endless hard work and dedication to a potential career as a professional basketball player and we wanted to make sure to fulfill at least this part of his dream. So it gives me great pleasure to say that with the next pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin from Baylor University.”
With that, Austin walked across the NBA Draft stage, like many other draftees, and shook the commissioner’s hand.
"God has really blessed me," Austin told reporters after being drafted. "He could've allowed me to keep playing, but instead he saved my life."
The touching moment sparked touching reactions from NBA superstars.
“Adam silver is such a classy man!” Kevin Durant tweeted. “That’s love right there. I’m emotional for him. Damn I love that.”
Added Durant’s former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, and current Houston Rockets guard, James Harden: “S/O @IsaiahAustin for an unbelievable story. Adam Silver did something special tonight. The @NBA is amazing!”
Former Duke star turned ESPN analyst Jay Williams, who had his own NBA career cut short due to a 2003 motorcycle accident, tweeted: “Life is so much bigger than basketball, coming from someone who knows. Much respect to Isaiah Austin.”
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(Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)