NZ basketball prospect heeding advice from NBA legend

Source: 1News

Not every up-and-coming athlete has the chance to meet a legend in their sport, but luck was on the side of 19-year-old Wellingtonian basketball player Ben Gold when he first arrived at his new home of Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Running a programme at his alma mater was three-time NBA champion and 13-time All Star Dwyane Wade. Gold didn't hesitate to meet the Miami Heat legend.

"I got to meet him, talk to him, have a conversation with him, which was pretty cool not many people get to do that," Gold said.

Wade spent three years at Marquette from 2001 to 2003, slowly working his way up to become a top prospect in the 2003 NBA draft after not being a top-100 recruit coming out of high school and struggling academically.

He was selected with the fifth pick by the Miami Heat, won his first NBA championship and finals MVP in 2006, two more titles in 2012 and 2013 alongside LeBron James, and retired in 2019 as one of the greatest shooting guards to play the game.

Gold said Wade told him it all started with hard work.

"He talked to me a lot about my first year at college, my freshman year. [He said] it's going to be hard, you're going to struggle, you're going to be out of your comfort zone, but as long as you stay true to yourself, keep playing as hard as you can and just work your a** off basically," Gold told 1News.

Gold, a 6ft 11in (2.11m) stretch forward, played two years at the NBA Academy in Australia before being recruited by over 30 division one college basketball programmes in the US.

Ultimately he chose Marquette, and hopes to follow in the footsteps of Wade and other alma mater of the university including Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Wesley Matthews.

"The legacy of all the players that have come through the programme...looking at the NBA, it shows you can definitely do it from here," Gold said.

The 19-year-old is also looking forward to coming up against childhood friend Tafara Gapare, who signed for DePaul University in nearby Chicago. The two teams play in the same conference.

"We've been playing with each other since under-13s, and so it's going to be pretty cool to hopefully play against each other in college," Gold said.

For now, the hard work begins, with Gold acclimatising to his new home and team before the season begins in November.