Chuck Hayes in the NBA: Part 5 of 5

While Hayes considers himself fortunate to make a living playing the game he loves, he wants to clear up a few misconceptions that fans have about life in the NBA.

For Luther Head, who also played at a school known for defense in Illinois, he traces Hayes' focus back to his college days. "I think that's where it all starts for everybody," he said. "Coming out of high school, everybody is an offensive guy because that's what you're recruited for, offense. When you get to college, you think more about defense and realize that it wins games. I think he took that to heart. I think he just saw that he has a gift with his body and strength that he can guard pretty much anybody. He's just a special guy on the defensive end."

Being in the same locker room as such NBA superstars as Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming is something that Hayes admits is unbelievable at times. "I remember Tracy (McGrady) came out in '97 and I was just graduating from junior high," he said. "Now I'm his teammate. Yao, I had just finished my freshman year at Kentucky when he was the No. 1 pick. I remember watching him all throughout my college career, so it's funny how times go by and here I am in the same locker room with these guys instead of watching them on TV."

While Hayes considers himself fortunate to make a living playing the game he loves, he wants to clear up a few misconceptions that fans have about life in the NBA. "They don't realize that not everybody is a superstar," he said. "Not everybody is Kobe (Bryant) and not everybody is LeBron (James), Tracy or Yao. Yeah, we play this game and get paid good money but we could lose this job tomorrow. People understand that yes, this is a game but it's also a livelihood that we appreciate."


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