Many criticized Josh for leaving NC State early and felt that he needed another season in the ACC to be ready for professional basketball. What people did not realize was that it wasn't as if Josh felt he didn't need another year to hone his game, it was that he needed to support his family. With most NBA GM's impressed with his game, Josh saw his opportunity to provide that support. However, much like anything in life, it did not go as planned, as Josh went undrafted and found himself without an NBA contract.
"It's been a long road. I started off overseas and then went to the D-League and eventually got signed by the Dallas Mavericks. I've had to work extremely hard and be patient. Throughout all of this, I've gotten married and we have two children. It's all been a blessing." Josh told us in a recent interview.
Throughout it all Powell has stayed grounded and kept working. He stayed in shape, he went to every workout they would let him in to. In the off-season Powell would head back to Raleigh and work out with the Pack players at NC State's Dail Center. Many erroneous rumors swirled about Josh not feeling comfortable at NC State, thus causing him to exit early. However, when asked about the situation, Josh was quick to squash those rumors...
"I pretty much live in the (Dail Center) gym (in the offseason). I work out 2, sometimes 3 times a day doing different things. I the morning I do individual work which involves skill work, conditioning and lifting weights. In the afternoons I play ball with a lot of guys on the NC State team. I still keep in contact with guys like Brandon Costner, Courtney Fells and Simon Harris."
All the work seemed to finally pay off when he finally landed a small gig with the Dallas Mavericks. After a decent season he moved on to even smaller roles with the Pacers and then the Warriors. Finally he joined the Clippers, a team riddled with injury during the 07-08 season, giving Josh a chance to prove himself on the court. Josh did just that as he averaged almost 20 minutes per game, starting in 25 games and posting a line of 5 points and 5 boards. After opening a lot of eyes with the Clippers, Powell joined the Lakers, a team who many favored to take home the NBA Championship. With a roster stacked with all-stars and premier role players, many felt Josh would be a forgotten man, but working hard and proving people wrong was nothing new for Powell. In his opportunities he shined. When he entered the game he was aggressive and played as if his career depended on it, because it did. He gained the trust of Phil Jackson and went on to average over 11 minutes per game, along with 4 points and 3 boards, on what was one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Oh and in case you missed it, he also earned himself a Championship ring as the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the Finals.
For every Lebron James or Kobe Bryant there is a guy you have probably never heard of. A guy who's physical gifts could not deliver him the world on a silver platter. A guy who is only where he is because he never gave up, he never took "no" for an answer, and he never listened when people told him he couldn't. A guy like Josh Powell.
One of his workouts was for the Washington Wizards, where Patrick Ewing was then an assistant coach.
After the workout, Ewing stunned Powell, by telling him that he would never make the NBA.
Powell has not forgotten. "Every time I see him," he says, he remembers the words that once cut him. "It was just motivation. I can't do nothing but respect it, if that's his opinion. It just drove me to go hard. It drove me to stay hungry."
About then, some NBA personnel came through the champagne-soaked Laker locker room with the gleaming NBA championship trophy. Powell finishes his thought, reaching for the trophy: "Everything worked out for the best ... now let me see that thing right there ..."
We are extremely proud of Josh and his will to succeed. We are glad to be able to call him part of the Wolfpack Family and wish him luck as he continues to pursue his dream to be an NBA star.
Quotes from this article came from our own WolfpackHoops.com Interview with Josh and ESPN's NBA Finals article on the Lakers.