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Basketball fans down under were riding high during the NBA Finals. No matter which team won, at least one Aussie was going to be a champion.
Although he didn't play in the Warriors' series-clinching Game 6 win over the Cavs, Melbourne native Andrew Bogut will get the first championship ring of his 10-year NBA career.
Cavs point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who hails from Maryborough, Australia, delivered a stellar 20-point performance in Game 3 that included lock-down defense on Warriors star Steph Curry. One media outlet went so far as to ponder whether the 24-year-old Aussie was Curry's kryponite. But as Curry returned to the form that earned him the NBA's MVP award, Dellavedova struggled, tallying just six points in Games 5 and 6 combined.
But at least Dellavedova got to finish out the finals. Cleveland's other Aussie connection was hurt in Game 1 and never returned. Point guard Kyrie Irving was born in Melbourne and holds dual citizenship in both Australia and the U.S. His father, Drederick, moved from the U.S. to Australia to play pro basketball, but the Irving family moved back to the states when Kyrie was 2.
The Cavs' star is still proud of his birthplace. Irving's signature shoe, released by Nike in 2014, was inspired by the iconic Sydney Opera House, according a report by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Now that the NBA offseason has begun, there will be a lot of discussion about free agents signing with new teams. Elite stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry are an attraction for players hoping for a chance at a title, but here's a tip: Follow the Aussies.
This is the third consecutive finals that featured at least one Australian player. In 2013, Canberra native Patty Mills played for the San Antonio squad that fell to the Miami Heat. In a finals rematch the next year, the Spurs guard earned his first ring. But Bogut and Mills have a ways to go before they catch former Chicago Bulls big man Luc Longley: the Melbourne native has three titles.
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