The 2002 NBA Draft class is filled with star talent. Former Wizards All-Star Caron Butler was the 10th pick in that class. Yao Ming, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Tayshaun Prince are other notable players from that year.
Seventeen years has passed and every player from that class is no longer playing in the NBA except one — Nene, the seventh pick in the Draft. Nene played for the Wizards from 2012 to 16.
Marc Spears of The Undefeated wrote a column on the now-Rockets big man and his journey from his youth days in Brazil to his approach in Houston right now in their playoff series against the Warriors.
When Spears asked him about how he has been able to play for so long, Nene said “I take care of myself. Not too crazy. I eat healthy. I don’t just go with chicken and vegetables. You got to live life. I’m a professional athlete.” Seems like he’s trying to have it both ways there.
Nene was a strong presence for the Wizards, not only as a player where he averaged double-digits in scoring in three of his four seasons in Washington. He was also one of the first veteran mentors to John Wall and Bradley Beal.
I still can’t believe that 17 years have passed by since 2002. And it’s a testament to Nene’s work ethic that he’s been able to stay in the NBA this long. To wrap up, let’s re-live some of Nene’s best plays when he was a Wizard in the video below.