It is always great to be a member of Nole Nation. For two of the more important figures in Seminole athletic history, the past 24 hours or so must feel like a dream. Of course I am referring here to Bernard James who was selected in the second round of last night’s NBA Draft and also of FSU Baseball coach Mike Martin, selected as Baseball America’s National Coach of the Year for the first time in his illustrious career. Both of these men exemplify exactly what it means to be a true Seminole and an alumnus of Florida State University, and they both make Nole Nation proud to call them our own.
I don’t want to say that the story of Bernard James is a rags-to-riches story, because that’s not true, but his story is pretty similar to that type of story. See James is a high school dropout, who didn’t even play basketball in middle school or high school. Though he says the first time he picked up a ball was at 15 or 16 years old, he never played competitive ball, and did not play in a competitive game until he got to the military and was under the supervision of Erick Dumas. The story, as told by James, says that Dumas asked James if he played basketball, James said no, and Dumas said “you do now.”
Bernard James has never been your typical kid. His step-father, Daryl, was a career military man who served 15 years in the Army and 7 years in the Air Force. At 16 years old, Bernard dropped out of school, and at 17 he enlisted in the Air Force. He did three tours of duty and eventually rose to the level of staff sergeant (the reason that Nole fans and his teammates affectionately call him “Sarge”) during his 6 year term in the United States Air Force. In Iraq he guarded thousands of detainees at Camp Bucca, and while in Qatar and Afghanistan he secured buildings and airplanes and also acted as a member of the military’s law enforcement. He’s had to kill people. To put it simply, the work that Bernard James did for our country is more important than the work that most of us do every day. Last night was his time to celebrate.
Bernard James found basketball while playing in the military. Or I should say he improved his game and started taking it more seriously. James jokes around about his first game saying, “that night, I showed up to the intramural basketball game and had a bunch of blocks, dunks and rebounds. We just destroyed the other team. All of the guys that I work with were congratulating me and they were so happy that I was playing with them. That kind of got me locked in, that’s where it all started. After that, I would go to the gym to shoot and mess around with those guys. That’s really how I started to develop.” And oh, how glad Florida State is that he did.
Leonard Hamilton noticed James at a 2005 U.S. Armed Forces All-Star Tournament, and James earned his G.E.D. and attended Tallahassee Community College before stepping foot on Florida State’s campus. James played only two years with the Seminoles, but was a part of a sweet sixteen run and the next year an ACC Championship squad, and he became one of the better players ever to wear the garnet and gold. James averaged over 10 points and 8 rebounds per game last season as a senior, and during his brief two years with FSU’s program moved up to third all-time in blocked shots.
Last night, at age 27, James found his name called by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver in the second round of the NBA Draft. With the 33rd pick the Cleveland Cavaliers selected James, though he will be headed to the Dallas Mavericks as the two teams agreed upon a trade prior to the selection and it was just a formality that he become a Cav for a few brief moments. The Newark crowd gave James an appropriate standing ovation, and even started a U-S-A chant which you can see here. James new boss also chimed in on Twitter which you can also see below. For what it’s worth Sarge, you will always be one of my favorite Seminoles, thanks for everything that you’ve done for my university and my country.
I love that kid !! USA !!—
Mark Cuban (@mcuban) June 29, 2012
Another older Nole also made a little bit of history today. In Mike Martin’s career he had never been named Coach of the Year. That all changed today, as Baseball America paid their respect for the tremendous job that #11 did with this year’s Noles baseball squad. For a coach that now has 1,723 wins for the school that he graduated from, being named Coach of the Year is icing on the cake, and he led his boys to 2 wins in the College World Series this year before being eliminated by the eventual champions, the Arizona Wildcats. With the way that Coach Martin is, much like former FSU football head coach Bobby Bowden, he remained very humble today but along with being named Coach of the Year he also received a nice little contract extension to remain with the FSU program through at least 2015.
There is not too much I could say about #11 without coming across as a blatant homer, but he really is one the best college baseball coaches of all-time. The only thing missing from his resume is that national championship that is doing way too good of a job evading his ball-clubs, but today he’s been given at least 3 more chances to grab that trophy that keeps eluding him. Hopefully his boys can find a way for him to go out on top, as there is not a more deserving man at any level of baseball. Congratulations #11, Nole Nation has your back and as shown today so does the FSU Administration and Baseball America, so please go out there and take care of business next year and bring the Noles back to Omaha one more time!
Mike Martin named Baseball America National Coach of the Year for the first time in his career! #Noles—
FSU Baseball (@FSU_Baseball) June 29, 2012