I am writing this from the future - 10 years ago I was drafted #7 to the Toronto Raptors. My life was about to change...forever.
I remember the night before the draft I wasn't able to sleep. I knew my name was going to be called...I didn't know when and to what team. I knew my life was going to change and I was going to be able to provide for my family...that was what was in my head. Basketball is my love, but it also was my chance to help my family. Maybe it's my Dominican side of me, family above all.
It was an exciting but nerve wrecking process. I knew the draft started, for me, after the first 4 picks. At 5, Charlotte, who I worked out for twice, picked Raymond Felton. I really thought my name was going to be called here.
I was in the green room waiting with my family trying to patient. Waiting. Waiting for what seemed like forever. Then at 6, Martell Webster was picked and my agent at the time said "Charlie, you are up at 7". I remember the camera man walking my way. I remember David Stern calling my name. I remember hugging my mom and dad. I remember thinking "I made it!" I remember thinking "don't fall, the whole world is watching." I was thinking about all those things at once. The whole world watched me fulfill my dream. A true blessing.
Shaking hands with David Stern (2005 NBA Draft)
So that's it...this thing is a real trip. My advice to those young fellas TONIGHT is to enjoy the process. This is a once in a lifetime fun process. Enjoy this moment because you only go through it once! And honestly, try not to listen to the chatter. There were so many rumors the year I got picked, I don't even remember most of them. The funniest, most ironic one was that I would of gone to the NY Knicks with the 8th pick....hmmm. That would have been wild. And young fellas, don't worry about the media's opinions. They are only opinions. I remember Dickie V. and Stephen A. Smith both trashed the Raptors for picking me. Meanwhile, 10 years later...I'm still playing this game that I love and still being productive.
Anyway, it's been a helluva 10 years. I am humbled and blessed for it. Looking forward to some new NBA brothers, the comp they bring, and best of luck to them all.
Charlie Villanueva #believeincharlie
Ps. Shoutout to Karl Towns. Another Dominican brother in the NBA.