Wednesday November 16th, 2016

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When Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson set foot on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif., he wore the customary rainbow hat with the propeller on top. In his head on that day in July, the wheels were turning.

“I think things are going to go mechanical, like the self-driving cars,” Watson said of the future. “I feel like the world is going to robots.”

Watson participated in the NBA’s Career Crossover program this summer, and before the start of the season, he got an opportunity at Google to envision what the world might look like by the time the 32-year-old’s playing career comes to an end.

During his tour alongside fellow NBA players Wilson Chandler and Dahntay Jones, he sat in on meetings and saw how Google employees got down to business. They were more than “a bunch of nerds and guys with glasses.”

“Those people were just mind-blowing to be around them,” Watson said. “They’re pretty innovative.”

The NBA program got Watson thinking more about life after playing basketball, though he might not be out of the game. He said he wanted to be a general manager and also could very well get into real estate. Part of the program enabled him to do a job shadow with brokerage Douglas Elliman.

The Google experience showed him how tech could be fun, creative and “mind-blowing.” It gave him confidence that skills he learned on the court could translate down the road in an industry different from basketball.

“Just hard work,” Watson said. “The mentality of never giving up. Even when people say no. Also to focus and shoot for the stars.”

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