CHICAGO - When word came out that Kai Sotto is headed to the Hiroshima Dragonflies of the Japan B.League, many assumed he went farther away from his ultimate hoops dream.
Distance doesn't dim his chances, it only makes his love for the game grow fonder.
But here are a few things you should know as another round of tense anticipation begins on whether we will see the first-ever full-blooded Filipino actually reach the NBA after generations of waiting.
READ: Hiroshima just as pitstop as Kai prepares for NBA Summer League
Although the rules allow it, Kai Sotto will not enter his name in the 2023 NBA Draft this June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Obviously, Kai will not be in the 2023 NBA Draft Combine, And that's not a big deal nor a barometer of his worthiness.
A LEAGUE EXECUTIVE AND A HIGH-PROFILE NBA AGENT CONFIRMED THESE SCENARIOS TO SPIN.PH.
Which means the best pathway for Kai to make it to the NBA next season is to be signed as an undrafted free agent.
Which explains why his handlers have seen to it that the soon-to-be 21-year old will be in NBA mini camps and play in the Summer League in Las Vegas in July.
As expected, the latest Kai NBA update has become a hot topic.
The idiots and sewerage-spewing haters have descended on social media in droves. And I am not inclined to listen because their noisy nonsense is uninformed and anchored solely on the "just because" argument.
Kai has never once asked anyone for pity or sympathy, why go hard on a kid who is merely trying his damn best to find his niche in basketball?
Unlike last year, when I believed Kai won't be either drafted or signed, my thoughts have since changed.
Unlike last year, when he was going through team changes and agent changes, Kai emerged from a more stable place this time around. He has better representation now and he has shown marked improvement in his game.
DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO AN NBA NOD?
It does not. But it sure does keep the hope very much alive.
A Japan-based agent told me that if Kai chooses to stay in the B.League, he will make way more money than an NBA minimum salary of $838,464 and certainly more than the annual $77,250 that a G League player pulls.
However, the NBA is the Holy Grail. The Mount Rushmore. The Promise Land.
We all don't see our dreams turn to reality. And that's okay.
The real failure is not even trying.
Go for it, Kai.
A whole nation is rooting for you.