The NBA cares. If you're a basketball fan, chances are you've heard the slogan and have seen commercials for the league's community outreach initiative. But on Thursday night at the 2014 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, the league showed that "NBA Cares" is more than a slogan by ceremoniously drafting 20-year-old college star Isaiah Austin.
Austin, a 7-foot-1 center from Baylor, was all set to enter the NBA Draft before he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome on Sunday. Marfan is a genetic disorder which affects the heart, and if Austin plays basketball at a competitive level, his heart could rupture.
Despite the career-ending news, newly appointed league commissioner Adam Silver invited Austin to the draft as his special guest and called him to the podium between the 15th and 16th pick, allowing the baller to live out part of his dream.
During this past college season, Austin revealed that he had a prosthetic right eye, after suffering a detached retina. Still, the center was expected to be drafted pretty high, until doctors discovered the genetic disorder after routine testing.
When Austin's name was called, the crowd at Brooklyn's Barclays Center rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.
"For Commissioner Silver to even invite me here was a tremendous blessing and it just shows how much class that man has," Austin told ESPN. "It's really been a tough week for me, and it's been really rough. I've just had a tremendous amount of support from everybody around the world, telling me they're praying for me and everything. I can't thank everybody enough."