Theses Doctoral

Learning and Succeeding from Adversity—The Stories of Undrafted NBA Basketball Players: An Exploratory Qualitative Study

DiMarco, Andrea M.

An exploratory qualitative study was conducted for the purpose of seeking to understand how a group of undrafted NBA players made sense of and learned from adversity throughout their journey to the NBA (and beyond). This type of study was chosen because of the lack of research on this topic and to further explore these undrafted NBA players’ understanding and meaning through their narratives. Semi-structured interviews were used to allow for the generation of additional probes based on the athletes’ responses. The researcher interviewed five undrafted NBA basketball players (both current and retired) who, despite not getting drafted, were still able to play and compete in the NBA.

Six key findings were identified: (1) Participants reported factors of resilience when it came to success; (2) participants reported mindset in various ways; (3) participants reported faith and belief in themselves, their dream, or their ability to make/play in the NBA, which contributed to their success; (4) participants reported their definition of success differently based on their experience and journey; (5) participants reported learning from adverse experience; and (6) participants reported a strong work ethic.

Three conclusions were reached: (1) for undrafted NBA players to succeed, they must use adversity as a learning experience and/or opportunity; (2) for undrafted NBA players to succeed, they must not lose faith in their dream or ability to make it and/or play it in the NBA, regardless of the adversity they face on their journey; and (3) undrafted players must define and measure success in terms of their own goals, dreams, experience, and personal journey.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Yorks, Lyle
Rock, Thomas Patrick
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 22, 2022