He may never wear the Boomers green and gold but Kyrie Irving says Australia played a huge big part in his on court success.
“I’m proud to say that I’m an Australian American,” he says. “And it’s truly an honour and a blessing to represent such a prestigious continent.
Now into his second NBA season, one that saw him develop into an NBA All-Star, the first Australian born player to do so, but even more impressive than that is how he has made many of the Cavaliers fans already forget about a player called Lebron.
“Some of my friends in the US didn’t believe that I actually played for Australia – they never believed me ever until I bought my birth certificate in and showed them the continent on the back of my birth certificate. Knowing that I’m an Australian-born NBA basketball player now is fun to think about and it adds a little bit more to my career.
Kyrie’s father Drederick Irving was one of the most prolific scorers in Boston University history where he helped bring national attention while rewriting the team’s record book. He graduated in 1988 as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,931 points, 15.8ppg) and has since had his jersey retired in the schools rafters.
After a failed attempt to make the Boston Celtics roster the 6’4” Drederick was then lured to play for the Bulleen Boomers by their coach at the time Brett Brown who played alongside Drederick at Boston University. Drederick was dominant in the SEABL averaging 30 points and game in 1992 while a young Kyrie cheered from the sidelines.
Kyrie Irving has openly said his love of the game was developed as a toddler while his father was playing professional basketball in Australia.
“I started dribbling before I was even two, my dad built me a court in the backyard” Irving said.
Now an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Brett Brown recalls those days when a young Kyrie Irving scuttled along the basketball courts of Bullen. “I coached his dad. I remember when he (Kyrie) was born. I remember him coming into our practice, “It’s amazing how old I am when I have to think back at that.” Brown said.
Simon Mitchell, head of basketball operations for the Frankston and District Basketball Association and a former teammate of Drederick Irving during his time with Bulleen has orchestrated a series of basketball clinics with the Australian born NBA star, scheduled for July 1-5.
“Kyrie is keen to come to Australia and explore where he is from,” Mitchell said and this was echoed by Kyrie in reports during the week
“When I go visit there for my first time (since being kid) I’m pretty sure I’ll fall in love with it. I haven’t been back (to Australia) since I was two so I’m really excited to come there in July and meet all the great people there”.
Although Irving does seem genuinely honest about his love of Australia don’t be too excited about the possibility of him wearing green and gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Right now, no… but you never know what can change over the next three or four years,” he says.
In his first season he was named Rookie of the Year, his second he become an NBA All-Star and before his third season in the NBA he is coming home to share his experiences with young Aussie basketball players.
Perhaps the 1st Australian born NBA All-Star can give some advice to some future Australian born All-Stars this July.