Jameer Nelson's career year

Updated: January 14, 2009, 4:46 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
Jameer Nelson stood on the edge of the pool, staring at the bottom. Thirteen feet below, a 15-pound cinder block rested on concrete. His challenge, self-imposed, was to bring it up. What would be a difficult undertaking for Michael Phelps would be nearly impossible for Nelson. His fear of water dates to his childhood, and it only increased after his father, Pete, drowned 17 months ago. So there Nelson stood, rooted to his spot on dry land.
Jameer Nelson
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesJameer Nelson is on a career-best pace.

The block remained underwater overnight. The next day his personal trainer convinced the Magic point guard to take the plunge. Halfway down, though, panic set inand out of the water he popped. This circle of courage and fear continued for two weeks until Nelson finally retrieved the block. "I had to do it," he says. "This was about overcoming obstacles and facing what is in front of you."

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine