Basketball is in Kyle Weaver’s DNA. The 6-foot 6-inch guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team comes from an athletic family. His dad broke records as a high school player, and his sister also plays basketball. It’s a good thing, because the first hoop to jump through to become a professional basketball player is God-given: height. "Somebody who is 5’10” has a lot more hurdles to overcome than someone who is 6-10,” said Brian Facchini, a spokesman for the Thunder. Weaver’s been honing his basketball skills since he was a toddler. "I had a hoop in my house as soon as I could walk,” he said. As a child, he played every chance he got, from community leagues to 3-on-3 games in the street. Each game he played as a student at Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin, then Washington State University, got him one step closer to the NBA. Last summer, he was chosen as a second-round draft pick to play for the Charlotte Bobcats. "It was a beautiful feeling,” he said. After the summer league, Weaver was traded to the Thunder. Though an injury kept him from playing in the preseason, the 22-year-old rookie is now getting some game time.
Playing with passionPractice begins at 11 a.m. most days, but Weaver said he tries to get in by 9:30 a.m. He eats breakfast — usually pancakes, eggs and fruit — then hits the gym, riding the stationary bike or lifting weights. Weaver shoots a few hoops before practice, then spends time working with a strength coach and practicing free throws, wrapping up around 2 p.m. That’s at least five hours of basketball every day. Game days are different, he said. Players don’t practice heavily, but instead watch films of their opponent and study the players. It can be physically and mentally exhausting. "You have to really have a passion to want to play basketball,” Weaver said. For the millions of American men who play basketball, making it to the NBA is a dream only about 420 accomplish.
Career SpotlightProfessional Basketball
• Education: Thunder player Kyle Weaver graduated from Washington State University; the league doesn’t have any educational requirements.
• Annual salary: Weaver will make just over $800,000 this season; the average player rakes in $4 million per season, according to the National Basketball Players Association.
• Necessary traits: Athletic ability to excel at playing basketball.