He may have been just a boy, but Aris forward Ronnie Harrell's memories of being and NBA ball boy remain strong.
NBA ballboy experience helped Aris's Harrell love the game
Basketball players draw on their past experiences to help develop their approach to the game. And one of the most lasting impressions for Aris Midea Thessaloniki forward Ronnie Harrell in his basketball development was serving as a ballboy for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.
Harrell hails from Denver and is a cousin of the former NBA great Chauncey Billups, which also helped the young Harrell get a chance to be a ballboy.
Harrell was in middle school while Billups played for the Nuggets and he was ballboy for a couple of years.
"I was pretty young, but it was right around the same time that I fell in love with the game. So it was perfect," Harrell said. "I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything."
One of Harrell’s favorite experiences as a ballboy was when Denver was playing the Milwaukee Bucks and he got to experience Brandon Jennings.
"One time I was a ballboy and Denver was playing the Milwaukee Bucks and Brandon Jennings was the starting point guard. He was always one of my favorite players to watch on TV," Harrell recalled. "It was a fun game, back and forth. I think the Nuggets got the win, which was good but that was definitely a favorite moment of mine."
Harrell also valued a special connection he built with Carmelo Anthony.
"In the locker room you are kind of shy being around all these great players you see on TV. And when you are shy you really don't say much. But Carmelo just walked up to me and said: 'What's up young fella' and asked me if I was ready for the game – as if I was playing," he said. "It was always a special connection. He would always show me his shoes and asked me which ones I liked and which ones I didn't like. It was always fun to be around him. He's a real genuine guy."
Harrell said those experiences as a ballboy played a major role in his development – even though they occurred when he was a youngster.
"Being around the game as a ballboy definitely helped me – not necessarily physically but more psychologically and mentally because you see how professionals approach the game from a young age. How they approach the game and interact on the court – things you can't really catch on TV," Harrell said.
"That helped me because it gave me something to set as a goal. When I step on the court I want to have this kind of focus. When I interact with my teammates I want to have this kind of body language. It's a lot of small subtle things that go on on the court at a level you can't see on TV. So being around it at a young age was a really big help."
Years after being a youngster around the NBA game, those experiences are still helping Harrell in the EuroCup.