They were all working in the same building Saturday night as the Charlotte Bobcats hosted Booker and the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena.
What set Booker apart from his basketball legend counterparts, however, was his action on the hardwood.
Booker — a 23-year-old rookie forward and former Union High basketball standout — scored two field goals in the Wizards 104-89 loss while Jordan, Cassell and Oakley handled coaching or front office duties.
But Booker’s class and poise were as impressive — if not more — than his performance on the court.
The way he handled himself on the court and behind the scenes before and after the game with family and friends was a sign of a true champion and hero.
He spoke with a group of students from Jonesville Elementary/Middle School prior to taking the court.
He even managed to share more of his kind spirit after giving his all on the hardwood.
Although he was anxious to see family and friends following Saturday’s competition, he took time for a few questions from The Union Daily Times and paused again to speak with an elderly couple who “kept up with him” when he starred for the Clemson Tigers basketball team.
He spent nearly 20 minutes taking pictures and chatting with family and friends who waited nearly an hour after the game to speak with him. Booker continued posing for pictures and giving warm embraces to those closest to him up until arena officials began asking the Wizards to load the bus.
Booker was drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was the 23rd pick overall in the first round and was selected originally by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was traded the same night to the Washington Wizards.
While this was Booker’s first game in the Carolinas since turning pro it was not his first game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Booker and Clemson played in the 2008 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at TWC Arena.
“It feels good to play close to home and see some of my family and friends. It’s always good to be here,” Booker said.
Booker was a star at Union High School and Clemson, leaving his mark on both programs.
He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for South Carolina after averaging 21.9 points, 16.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a senior at Union High. He was also named the AAA state player of the year and a first-team All-State selection. Booker graduated from Union in 2006 as the career leader in rebounding and blocked shots.
His days at Clemson were also impressive. He did something no other player in, arguably, the best conference in NCAA men’s basketball has ever done. Booker became the only player in ACC history with 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 blocks, 200 assists and 100 steals.
Clemson made its first back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 10 years during Booker’s sophomore and junior seasons. He started in all 132 games during his four-year career at Clemson.
Booker was given a chance to represent Team USA at the World University Games in the summer of 2009 where they won a bronze medal.
In addition to the international competition, he credits his Tiger days as the best aid to a smooth transition from college basketball to playing in the NBA.
“It’s been a little challenge but the last four years helped me out. I faced adversity and fought through that which helped me out a lot,” Booker said.
There are many things to admire about Booker’s game like his toughness, tenacity and fight around the rim which are refreshing to see in a fast-paced, high-scoring league.
While it doesn’t show, Booker says there is one part of transitioning to the NBA that has offered opportunities for learning and improving.
“Adjusting to the speed of the game,” Booker said.
Booker and the Wizards were in a bit of slump losing eight of their last 30 games before getting a 136-133 overtime win vs. Sacramento on Tuesday. The Wizards are young but rookies Booker and No. 1 pick John Wall give the team a great shot of talent. He mentioned briefly how exciting it is to play with talent like Wall.
“It’s always fun to play with a guy like that. He’s a good friend of mine. It’s a great feeling,” Booker said.
He looks to continue his success and join forces with players such as Wall so he can have more in common with Jordan, Cassell and Oakley like NBA championships and all-star appearances.
Booker and the Wizards will return to the TWC Arena to face the Bobcats on Sunday, April 3, at 6 p.m.
Be sure to get your tickets early.
Trevor is the son of Gerald and Tracey Booker of Whitmire. Trevor has three brothers Darren, Devin — a member of Clemson Tigers basketball team, and Jared Booker — a member of Sims Tigers basketball team. Booker’s cousin — Jordan Hill — is a forward for the Houston Rockets.