TOP:  With Mark Cuban between the scenes. Ease of access and opportunity to ask questions about life and business and getting straight answers allowed me to validate some of my own thinking and act on it sooner rather than later.

RIGHT: With David Robinson between the scenes. David Robinson was always someone I looked up to. He plaid on my position (Center), he was always “class act” and example to everyone in the league and outside of the league. Click to enlarge.

TOP: When you put me up against NBA legends who played centers, I don’t like that tall. That is OK. People like Mutambo can play – people like me can act.  Individuals with different skills, make great teams. The first thing you will notice on this photo is Dikembe Mutambo’s incredible size. With the shoes he is wearing, he is about 7’3” – 7’4” in size. What is impressive about him is not his size – but how smart and different he is. For example, he was pre-med major at Georgetown. Georgetown did not even recruit him – they found him on campus when he came to study medicine in the USA on academic scholarship. Click to enlarge.

RIGHT: I never have a chance to take a photo with someone this much taller than me. But to think of Mutambo as just another tall NBA basketball player would be a mistake. He is an educator and influencer. He would often say to his teammates “Ball will stop bouncing one day…” – hoping they will study as hard as he does and develop a skill for later in his life. Most of the players would not listen. He told me he was accepted at Yale Medical School and couple other medical schools. And right now he is taking leadership classes. Click to enlarge. 

LEFT: Person on the left side is Olden Polynice. Very few people know that Olden consistently ranked among the NBA’s leaders in offensive rebounds. He played for University of Virginia – just down the street from James Madison University where I set on the bench.

The guy on the right side is Michael Finley – he won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA in 2007. The person sitting in the background checking his phone, is Mutambo. Click to enlarge.

Commercial scene with Mark Cuban. Photo taken from behind main camera.

These girls are not models hired to appear in this commercial. They are actual employees of ATT and work for ATT marketing team.

Three first generation immigrants on the set. Dikembe Mutambo is from Africa. I am from former Yugoslavia. And person trying to fit into the picture (and photobombing the picture at the same time) is Olden Polynice from Haiti.

While meeting everyone was nice, I was the most impressed with meeting David and Mark. Both of them are the most inspirational and accomplished people one can meet in lifetime.  Both don’t mind sharing experiences and advice in a way that it can actually make a difference.

As I was talking hanging out with David and Mark for duration of the project, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I am to have had a chance to work hard and earn my spot, even though just for a moment, with these type of people.

My college coach Lefty Driesell used to say: “The Harder You Work, The Luckier You Get.” 

It is true.

– Vladimir