…according to the Australian media. At least that’s what they want to believe, because here in Australia a big news story about the NBA does not come along too often.
The league and the sport is mostly confined to the back columns of newspapers, while much of the local basketball flair and drama comes from D-grade imports like Corey “Homicide” Williams (I suppose that “Homicide” goes over great here because it’s both very urban and “American”). We here assume that Andrew Bogut is actually a good player (and treat him here like he’s the Outback Shaquille O’Neal) even though anyone who watches the game on a regular basis knows he’s anything but. In fact, I’m pretty sure Luc Longley has never had to pay for a drink wherever he goes in Australia. And while you can look at Andrew Gaze’s incredible college career and stellar international numbers… actually, I am not going to say anything bad about Andrew Gaze in fear of my life.
Nonetheless, on the cusp of this year’s NBA Draft, former Duke point guard Kyrie Irving is making noise in Australia. While he spent the majority of his life playing hoops in America, he was in fact born in Melbourne, Australia where his father (Drederick) played pro hoops for the local Bulleen Bombers in the 1990s. He moved back to the United States when he was 2 and hasn’t been back since, but it hasn’t stopped him from saying positive things about potentially representing Australia on an international level;
“You know, it would be great to play for my country, which is primarily Australia, so, I was born there and I want to represent Australia”
Did you hear that? He WANTS TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIA! He says it’s his country. As a recent Australian myself, I have to say I’m all for that. Australia would welcome him with arms more open than the Australian outback is vast. Sure, he’d probably only play during the Olympics and World Championships, but who watches international basketball outside of these times anyway?
Australia consistently tops the sporting landscape when it comes to rugby and cricket. The men’s football (soccer) team is on the verge and the women’s team is making waves both in Asia and the world. If there were ever an Australian Rules Football World Championship, team Australia would be kicking goals the way basketball’s Dream Team romped through Barcelona. So with the potential of Irving in the backcourt, the men’s basketball team would really make some serious headway come international competition time. The one big name superstar with the skills and swagger to compliment the more meat and bones game of the Boguts of the team.
The potential hurdles as such would be the fact that Irving has played for the United States at a junior level, and switching allegiances would not be as easy as saying so. There is however, precedent, Charlie Villanueva of the Pistons played for the United States at a junior level but decided to play for the Dominican Republic at senior level (let’s just say he wasn’t going to displace any of the current power forwards playing USA Basketball). The official rules state;
Item 23 – A player who has played in a main official competition of FIBA (see article -1) after having reached his seventeenth (17) birthday may not play for a national team of another country. However, in exceptional circumstances the Secretary General may authorise such a player to play for the national team of his country of origin if he is ineligible to play for such country according to this article -23 and if this is in the interest of the development of basketball in this country.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
Yes. Let’s make this happen Australia. Whatever it takes, a nice house on Sydney’s cove, Harry Kewell’s Politix sponsorship, Shane Warne’s black book, a nice Australian farmer girl…. anything. Let’s do this.
Irving has a lot on his plate at the moment. Consensus points to the Cavs picking him at #1, but as the pre-draft games play out, word out says the team aren’t going to say anything until David Stern announces the name. By the time you read this (or not long after), Kyrie Irving will either be holding up a Cavaliers jersey or perhaps, if both Dan Gilbert and David Kahn are truly crazy enough, a Timberwolves jersey.
Either way, Irving will make good on his pro career, but the only jersey I really want him to wear would be the green and gold of Australia’s national team.