So much can happen in one year. Just ask James Michael McAdoo.
In spring 2014, the North Carolina forward declared for the NBA Draft following his junior year. Like anyone else enamored with the sport, McAdoo had dreamed since childhood of hearing his name announced in New York. The dream crept closer to reality as he went through the grueling pre-draft workout process for more than half of the teams in the league.
But as draft day came and went, his name was never called. In a span of 24 hours, his deepest dream deteriorated into the biggest disappointment of his basketball career.
Questions and doubts assailed him. Was he prepared for the long, hard road ahead that could lead him anywhere—overseas, the NBA Developmental League, or even away from the game he once seemed destined for?
"The plans He has are always going to be a million times better than what you initially anticipated.” -James Michael McAdoo
McAdoo pressed on, eyes fixed on Jesus. He played in the NBA summer league and went to training camp with the Golden State Warriors, and was on the cusp of making the roster. Again McAdoo’s hopes rose, only to be quelled when he got cut.
“I remember praying so hard, like, ‘God please, I know this is what Your will is for me, to make this team.’ And then to not make it was so heart wrenching,” he said.
His faith was never so poised for refinement.
McAdoo adjusted to God’s game plan. He went to work in the D-League, actually finding relief from the pressure once the sport became a profession. The grind of its intensity burned away all excess to uncover the pure love of the game that was lost on the roller coaster of college hoops and prepping for the NBA.
He flourished at his local church with teammate Aaron Craft while bettering himself on the hardwood, hope still knocking beneath his ribcage.
Then, in the middle of the 2014-15 season, came the coveted call.
“I remember like it was yesterday—I’m on the way to the airport to pick up my wife Lauren,” he said. “My agent calls and tells me Golden State’s going to call and sign me.”
When they returned to the hotel, McAdoo broke down. “I was just thankful,” McAdoo exhaled. “I just started crying and hugging my wife, but first I said, ‘Let’s pray.' This was all God.”
That sentiment has been testified to over and over—God’s plans turn out sweeter than imagined when He’s allowed His perfect timing.
As the journey to his dream was rewritten, McAdoo never doubted God’s presence or hand in the struggle.
McAdoo is a living testament that "God hears your prayers."
Testified McAdoo, “He’s always there, He always hears you. The plans He has are always going to be a million times better than what you initially anticipated.”
The first time McAdoo wore a Warriors jersey on January 19, 2015, he not only made himself familiar with his courtside seat but actually racked up NBA minutes, scoring 11 points and garnering five rebounds. It was more than he imagined, God’s plan and timing finally coming to fruition.
“The biggest thing that I learned was that God hears your prayers,” he said. “I was praying my heart out, ‘God, please let me make this team,’ and then I get cut. Two months later, I end up making the team, and on top of that, we go on and win an NBA championship—you couldn’t have written that any better! That’s how I know it was God. “
McAdoo also won the NBA D-League championship with Santa Cruz, making history as the first player to ever win both championships in his rookie year.
Fight and faith may have fueled the quest of his desired NBA destination, but the journey is what will stick with McAdoo—the relationships established, trust in an unseen blueprint, rediscovering the fun of the game, and sweet fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
The uncertainty that peppered the unmarked road to McAdoo’s future is still imprinted upon every step of today. Nothing is set in stone, yet McAdoo’s assurance of stability rests on the Rock.
“It’s exciting but scary,” he admitted. “I have no idea what His next plan for me is, but all I know is He’s called me to answer His command and continue each and every day to wake up and try to honor Him in everything that I say and do.”
It’s a hard year to top, but God does like to amaze.
Photos courtesy of Bob Levey/Getty Images North America, Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America, and Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America