I love sports, especially basketball. As a kid growing up in southern Minnesota, I dreamed of playing on the high school varsity basketball team, a dream that came true. I was known as a creative player with nice moves, a variety of shots, and an array of clever passes. Like my favorite NBA player when I was growing up, John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics, my game was constant motion on the floor.

Fast forward through the decades. Living now in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m a season ticket holder of the Golden State Warriors. Three years ago the Warriors drafted a 20 year old kid from Italy, Marco Belinelli. He had been scouted and recommended by one of the greatest players in the history of the Warriors, Chris Mullin, who was general manager of the Warriors at the time. Mullin loves creative players and good shooters. Marco came highly recommended.

When Marco’s name was called as the Warriors’ selection on draft day 2007, the young Italian stood up, smiled, and walked toward the podium to be recognized by NBA Commissioner, David Stern. Most guys when selected give their mothers a hug or embrace their girlfriends or wives. When Marco left his table, he hugged and then gently slapped his female companion on the butt. Off to a great start!

Over the past three years Marco had the unfortunate experience of playing for two horrible coaches—Don Nelson of the Warriors and Jay Triano of the Toronto Raptors. His role has been limited with both teams.

Fortunately, Marco was traded this summer. Now with the New Orleans Hornets, Marco is likely to get his first real opportunity to play consistent minutes and for a team that needs his skills. His new team has a great analysis of his potential.

Marco Belinelli brings tremendous excitement to the game. On offense, he’s got a beautiful stroke from distance and makes creative plays around the basket. He sees the floor well and keeps the ball moving. He’s becoming a better rebounder too. Defensively, he works to keep his man from receiving the ball and fights his way through picks. Marco has great hands, creating steals and often forcing his opponent to turn the ball over.

Beyond his skills on the court, Marco seems to be a very cool guy. I like to follow the less-than-obvious stars in the NBA, and the ones I identify with in some way. Marco Belinelli is that guy.

© James Lull