“I believe that losing the biggest games on the court are the times when I’ve learned a lot about myself. How a person responds when they encounter “failure” is a good measure of their character.” Gokul Natesan grew in a small town sandwiched between Santa Clara and Cupertino, the Apple headquarters and was the first person in the Natesan family to be born in the USA. In college, Gokul had to find the balance between studying software and practicing daily for basketball which was quite a grind. He has played professional basketball since finishing college and currently plays in Finland’s top league.
Growing up in a Tamil household where typically the focus is on academics versus sports, how did you convince your parents that you wanted to play sports?
When I was younger my parents heavily encouraged me to play all sports. They were very big on the importance of extracurricular activities in general as they felt it developed qualities not stressed in a classroom. As a kid, I played any sport that I had interest in but that eventually narrowed down to basketball.
How did you balance the demands of being in a computer science program and playing college basketball?
It was a big time commitment having to manage these two tasks. Studying computer science, you quickly realize that there are a lot of time-consuming projects and difficult courses. Balancing that with the responsibilities that come with playing college basketball, you have to be extremely dedicated. I felt the biggest thing was to set daily goals and accomplish them so I wouldn’t get behind in my classes. With that being said, there were still plenty of long nights where I would be up late finishing an assignment.
Any advice for the younger generation who want to be a professional basketball player?
I think it’s important for younger kids to simply enjoy the game and develop their passion for playing basketball. As they get older and have ambitions to play at a higher level, I’d say to focus on getting better every day and putting in the time to improve.
What are your plans for post-basketball life?
Ideally, I would be a professional esports gamer but that’s not happening any time soon. The reasonable choice would be to do something in sports or tech given my background. However, I am still unsure as to what exactly my plans are.
What is a failure you’ve experienced in the last 5-10 years that you’ve learned the most from?
I believe that losing the biggest games on the court are the times when I’ve learned a lot about myself. How a person responds when they encounter “failure” is a good measure of their character.
In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I’m not really too concerned about a personal legacy because if you try to be the best version of yourself, things will turn out just fine.