Mitchell Wiggins, the father of Cavaliers No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, can finally let go of some personal demons.
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- When Mitchell Wiggins watched his son, Andrew, walk across the stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, to greet NBA commissioner Adam Silver after the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft last Thursday night, a heavy weight was finally lifted off his shoulders.
Mitchell Wiggins was a first-round pick of the Indiana Pacers in the 1983 NBA Draft, and saw success in his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. He later went on to compete for a starting spot for the Houston Rockets, but a drug suspension derailed his NBA career, and forced the 1982 FIBA World Championships silver medalist to play overseas for more than a decade.
"For me, as far as basketball, it just gives me a lot of closer," Mitchell Wiggins said at his son's introductory press conference with the Cavaliers last Friday. "As a parent and a former player, I'm so proud. It's something that he's wanted and dreamed about, and he made it happen. I was happy, a little relieved.
"I felt I should've played more years in the NBA, so when my kids started loving the game, I had so many camps and clinics. They grew up in the gym. Just having Andrew drafted and having another son, Nicholas, who's going to make the NBA, it just gives me closure.
"I'm happy to let go of some of the things I wasn't happy with when my NBA career ended. I'm tremendously proud of Andrew. I'm able to let go of some of the things I felt when I left the league. I can sleep better now."
The elder Wiggins felt he could get his chance at closure when his son, Andrew, was only 15 years old.
"I saw it at 15 when Michael Jordan saw it at the Jordan Game," Wiggins said. "He said, 'Is that your son?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'He's got a little something.' That's when I started looking at him differently. He's always been a player that's played better against the older guys. I didn't judge him against kids his age. I judged him against older players, and he stood out. I knew he had something."
In addition to having something on the basketball court, Andrew Wiggins displayed a rare ability to handle the spotlight and not let the bright lights consume him or change who he is. And now, with the lights shining ever the brighter, the elder Wiggins hopes for the best for his son.
"He wanted to be the No. 1 pick," Wiggins said. "It's a strong draft class, a lot of great, talented young players, and he wanted to be the top of that class. As soon as he got drafted, I said, 'Now, you've got to put in the work because every great player works harder than everybody else.'
"I just hope he stays true to who he is, stays grounded, stays humble. He's going to be a pretty good player, and he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Hall of Famers work harder than everybody else. They make the most sacrifices, and I think he's willing to do that. Everybody knows he's got talent, but you've got to put the work ethic with the talent and make some internal sacrifices. I think he's going to do that.
"The cameras, the glares have been in front of him since he was 14. LeBron anointed him the next great, great player, so the camera's been there. Andrew's mature beyond his years. He's comfortable with who he is. He walks his walk, and he's always been a kid who listens and tries to do the right thing."