NBA star Ramon Sessions gives 300 turkeys away
Ramon Sessions admits the notion of his NBA career ending has crept into his mind in recent years.
“When it ends, it ends,” the Myrtle Beach native said of his mental preparedness for that day.
Yet, despite coming off his first full year out of the NBA in the last 12 years, Sessions said that time has yet to come.
“Being out for a year, I’m a free agent obviously. The summertime is coming up and my agent is working on some stuff. And I’m staying in shape working out to see what will happen. You never know what can happen,” he said Tuesday during his 12th annual youth basketball camp at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center. “There’s a lot of guys that took a year off and came back and started the next season. I’m not saying that will happen to me, but you never know.
“I’m staying ready. I’m not officially retired from the NBA yet.”
For the first time in his career, Sessions played in a league other than the NBA — two in fact. He played a stint with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club of the EuroLeague and later with China’s Beijing Shougang Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Both leagues are some of the most prominent internationally and feature many other former NBA players.
“It’s a big deal over there,” said Sessions, who last played in the NBA in 2017-18, when he averaged 4.9 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in 28 games with the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards.
The overseas gigs often serve as lucrative opportunities for former NBA players who want to extend their careers. For Sessions, they also provided a unique personal experience.
“I got to see parts of the world, got to play for different organizations I would have never kind of dreamed of playing for,” he said.
Having a less-demanding schedule for the 2018-19 basketball season also allowed Sessions some opportunities back home that he hadn’t had in more than a decade.
“Spent time with the family, to be honest. Just being home kind of in the winter months during the holidays is a little different. But it was something I looked forward to, to be honest,” said Sessions, who has NBA career averages of 10.3 points, 4.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds playing primarily as a backup with 23.3 minutes per game in the NBA. “It’s been a great career for me at the end of the day. To be able to come home and do different stuff that I wouldn’t normally be able to do, it really means a lot to you when you get to this stage of your life.”
Still, in the background was the desire to play basketball. Akeem Hemingway, Sessions’ cousin and trainer, said he advised the former NBA player to keep pushing because opportunity would come knocking.
“My whole deal was just don’t give up. Just keep grinding ‘til the wheels fall off,” Hemingway, a fellow Myrtle Beach High alumnus, said.
That’s the plan moving forward, Sessions said. He said he’ll keep his options open while continuing to enjoy the most important things in life, such as his mentoring of youth.
“Everything is on the board right now. Even I’ve got some outside-of-basketball opportunities going on. We’ll see what happens. I’m keeping it open to see what happens,” said Sessions, who works closely with the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand. “At the end of the day, I still get to come here and enjoy doing this with the kids. This is my Super Bowl right here, coming here, doing this camp, being around in Myrtle Beach, the community that did so much for me.”
While a return to the NBA might be a long shot, there’s sure to be plenty of overseas opportunities available to Sessions should he decide to take them.
“Experiences, man. At this point in time, experience,” Hemingway said. “He’s had a great career, but he’s probably still looking to do it a little more. But the kid’s just not giving up.”
Overall, Sessions admits the past year was a strange experience to get accustomed to.
“It takes some adjustment. But it’s something I had envisioned before it started. It’s one of those things that I was like, OK, one day it’s going to stop. You’re not going to be able to play the games that you normally play or do certain things,” he said. “So for me, it was kind of more I already kind of had my mind set to where if it happened I knew how to adjust to it.”
Sessions was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 56th pick of the NBA Draft’s second round out of Nevada in 2007 and, of his 691 career NBA games, he started 146. Whether or not Sessions’ final stat line for games played stays at 691, he said he has always appreciated the opportunity.
“Me being the 56th pick, I wasn’t supposed to be here this long. A lot of people would have never thought I would make it for 11 years straight,” said Sessions, who owns the Milwaukee Bucks’ record for assists in a game with 24 and has a career-high game scoring total of 44 points. “And for me, every year I never took it for granted and I cherished every minute of it. When it ends, it ends. It’s one of those things that I gave 100 percent every time out there, so for me there’s no sadness or anything like that with it.”