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The Most Important Moment of the NBA Draft Involved a Player Who Won’t Play Again

Isaiah Austin of Baylor (R) is greeted by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as he is honored on stage during the 2014 NBA Draft.

By Michael Klopman 

It seems odd, but the 2014 NBA Draft’s most memorable moment had nothing to do with a prospect entering the league. Instead, that magic moment came in the middle of the first round, when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took a break to recognize former Baylor center Isaiah Austin. Just days before the draft, Austin learned he wouldn’t be able to pursue a professional basketball career, after being diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome.

“Like the other young men here tonight, Isaiah committed himself to endless hard work and dedication to a potential career as a professional basketball player and we wanted to make sure he fulfilled at least this part of his dream,” Silver announced, as the crowd at the Barclays Center gave a standing ovation. “So it gives me great pleasure to say that with the next pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin from Baylor University.”

The emotional 7-foot-1-inch Austin then put on a hat with the NBA logo on it and walked up to the podium to greet Silver. The 20-year-old, who was projected to be an early second-round pick, told ESPN’s Jay Williams “when God closes one door he opens up another for you.”

According to the Marfan Foundation, Marfan syndrome affects how the body produces connective tissue, which “plays an important role in helping the body grow and develop properly.” One feature of Marfan Syndrome, aortic enlargement, can be life-threatening.

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