Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks’ rookie point guard, thanked Michael Jordan for advice he gave him a few years ago before he played in the Jordan Brand Classic at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — words he’ll treasure forever.
In an essay posted on The Players’ Tribune, Ntilikina said Charlotte owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan paid a visit to the high school event in which he traveled from France to play.
While noticing how much older Jordan looked nowadays, the Frenchman got up the courage to ask him a question as he shook hands with all the high schoolers.
“But I’m so shy. No — more than shy. What’s the word in English? I’m pétrifé. I was shaking a little bit, and I had a little voice,’’ Ntilikina wrote of his encounter. “I said, ‘Hello, Michael. Can I ask you, what is the key to all your success?’”
Ntilikina said he idolized Jordan in France, watching all his highlight tapes on YouTube.
“What you have to do is love basketball,’’ Jordan told the Knicks lottery pick. “You can’t be great unless you really love the game. Once you love basketball more than anyone else in the world, then you’re willing to sacrifice. You’re willing to wake up early. You’re willing to do what it takes to be the best. But first, you have to really love it.”
Ntilikina, 19, wrote about the impact the words had on his then-16-year-old self.
“It sounds simple, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense in my life,’’ Ntilikina wrote. “A lot of people are asking, ‘How good do you think you can be? What is your ceiling?’ I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the NBA. But I do know that I really love the game more than anything. … This is why he is the legend. I have been thinking about what he said for the past three years.’’
In the piece, Ntilikina revealed on draft night, after the Knicks selected him eighth, he “was good until I got backstage with…