Updated 5th March, 2012: Kyrie Irving has revealed that >he will not represent Australia in London this year.
On Saturday night, I had the chance to speak with Australian-born Cleveland Cavaliers superstar and 2011 NBA Number 1 Draft Pick Kyrie Irving prior to him playing against the Washington Wizards.
Since Kyrie was born in Australia before moving to the United States, he is in an interesting position in that he is more or less eligible to choose which country he will represent at an international level. With the London Olympic Games coming up shortly after this current NBA season, decision time is quickly creeping up on Irving.
Irving was born in Melbourne, Australia when his father, Drederick was playing for the Bulleen Boomers. Despite spending only a short amount of time in Australia before moving to the US, on a road to a brief collegiate career at Duke and his eventual selection as the top pick in last year’s NBA Draft, Kyrie is a holder of dual citizenship and has taken a significant amount of time weighing his options.
While it was always unlikely that Irving would be selected for Team USA in 2012, his outstanding early season form, including the most recent NBA Rookie of the Month Award (for the Eastern Conference) has greatly increased the probability that he will eventually represent America. Having played for the US under-18 team, however, has meant that for Irving to play for Australia, he would need permission from the sport’s governing body, FIBA, beforehand, and would ultimately be tied to the nation of his choosing for the remainder of his career.
Kyrie was asked for an update on the status of his decision making process, whereby he shared that “It could come in the next few days. (I’m) just figuring out what I’m going to do. I’ll talk to Coach K (US National coach and Irving’s former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski) and (Boomer’s Coach) Brett Brown and make a decision and go from there” He also shared that the decision was “just about my future – about what’s best for me and my family.” Wearing a noticeably green and gold wrist-band, Kyrie added that “it’s about time to make a decision. I’ve talked to Brett Brown and if we do want to pursue it, it’s an opportunity that we have to take advantage of now, and we’ll take the necessary steps to complete it.”
On his recent rookie of the month award, Irving noted that while individual honors mean a lot to him, he’d “trade them for a few more wins, but those accolades will come when we continue to get more wins and surprise people.”
Prior to the game, Coach Byron Scott shared his thoughts with the media regarding Kyrie, noting that “he is a rookie – he’s 19 years old, and all this is still very new to him.” When Irving emerged from shootaround, he jumped on a security team member’s golf cart and started tooting the horn, for which he was later chastised. Coach Scott without missing a beat noted “I don’t even have to look over there to know who that is, he’s still trying to learn the league, and as you can see, he’s still 19!” Irving later commented that “some people forget that I’m still 19 years old. I’m still a kid, I mean I enjoy just having fun hanging out with my friends and having a good time – this life is great!”
Kyrie has a big decision ahead of him, especially one for a 19 year old. It’s a decision which has aslo been a source of much debate in Australia, with some believing that the limited time he had spent in Australia was insufficient to warrant his elevation over a long-serving team member, whilst others, well aware of his abilities, are excited about the prospect of Irving teaming with current Australian NBA stars Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.
Who would you like to see Kyrie play for? Share your thoughts in the comments below.