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#pounditWednesday, June 7, 2023

Kyrie Irving says he almost played for Australia until Coach K intervened


Cavs guard Kyrie Irving has emerged this summer as one of the foundational young talents of USA Basketball. But he actually once came dangerously close to not even being eligible for the roster.

In an interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical on Wednesday, Irving, who was born in Australia and spent the first two years of his life there, said that he almost accepted an invitation to play on the Australian under-18 basketball team as a 17-year-old, which would have made him ineligible to suit up for the United States in future international play. It was only the intervention of Mike Krzyzewski, who would later become Irving’s college coach at Duke, that prevented him from doing so.

“It was very serious,” Irving said when asked how close he came to playing for Australia. “It was a legit thing, until Coach K intervened. He strong-armed me. As a young fella, he did tell me I had a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. He said, ‘You could be the starting point guard on the U.S. Olympic team.’ I never thought it would happen as soon as it has, but I had aspirations and dreams of being a guard on an Olympic team.”

Now 24, Irving is indeed the starting point guard for Team USA under Krzyzewski at the Rio Olympics and is confident in his ability to help lead the squad to the gold medal. And as Irving spins, shakes, bakes, and splashes his way around dumbfounded international opponents this August, it looks like we have Coach K to thank for having the foresight to see Irving’s limitless potential some seven years ago.


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