A 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward with a strong inside game, Evan Kupferberg has become a rising star on the NYU basketball team. The team leader, whose entire life has been dominated by the love of a game, said his Marvel comic book-hero superpower would be the ability to attract fouls. But, at the risk of sounding like the opening monologue of a “30 for 30” special, there is more to LS sophomore Kupferberg than basketball.
More than his dream to play one-on-one with Lebron James and his memories of crushing the number one-seeded University of Rochester last season, Kupferberg is a young man dedicated to something greater than the game.
Kupferberg’s manner distinctly lacks ego — his reply to, “Why do you play basketball?” was, “I was always the tallest.” When asked why basketball has stood the test of time in American culture, he talked about the giants of the past with the enthusiasm of a child memorizing player stats off Upper Deck cards before reigning himself in with an embarrassed sigh and saying, “It’s just really special. These guys really play.”
But that humility has to come from somewhere. For Kupferberg, that somewhere is not so much a place, but an idea — the idea of home. His family, season ticket holders for the Miami Heat, attended every single one of his high school games. That dedication planted the seeds of this idea in his head from the time he was a child. As he grew up, however, he took that mantle upon himself. The deep-rooted sense of belonging that home provides has pushed him toward his planned career in real estate — a career he will share with his father — and has bled into his work on the court with his teammates and coaches.
He never talks in terms of wins and losses and never mentions breaking records or winning championships. Instead, he spoke about the team. He talked about the place where he and his teammates have found a home in this city of millions of people — the NYU Basketball program.
“We play really well together, that’s our greatest strength,” Kupferberg said. “One of our team mottos is ‘Team First,’ and we’re sticking to it … My teammates make me a better person.”
The star athlete distinguished himself with this mentality. When all is said and done, he recognizes that the sport he plays would lack meaning without the lives that are changed as a result, and that is what makes not only a great athlete, but also a great person.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 4 print edition. Alys Murray is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.