Melbourne-born NBA superstar Kyrie Irving visiting hometown, running camps at State Basketball Centre in Wantirna
KYRIE Irving is coming home.
The Melbourne-born NBA superstar will be visiting his place of birth for the first time since his family returned to the USA some 19 years ago.
And, he’ll be lending his prodigious talents to developing the game in Melbourne, running a series of camps at the State Basketball Centre in Knox next week.
At just 21 years of age, the point guard is among the game’s elite, having been named the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year, and selected as an All-Star in 2013.
That he’ll be in town is a big enough deal, but for him to dedicate a week to coaching local players is something else.
It is, according to 1st Pick Hoops camps organiser Simon Mitchell, unprecedented.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity,” he said.
“It’s a chance to get up close with an NBA all-star at his peak. I’m not sure people understand how lucky they are.”
“Other stars have visited after their careers ended. I don’t think anything like this has happened before.”
It was Mitchell’s relationship with the Irving clan that got the ball rolling on the camps.
Mitchell, now head of basketball operations for the Frankston and District Basketball Association, played alongside Kyrie’s father Drederick for the Bulleen Boomers in the early 90s.
The pair formed a strong friendship, which has endured through the years, so when Kyrie decided it was time to visit Melbourne, Dred made the call to Mitchell.
“Our friendship has remained intact and strong. He got to me six months ago and said we should probably run some camps, do something for the sport,” Mitchell said.
“Kyrie has a very strong affinity for Australia, having been born here.
"It’s about him coming out and learning about his place of birth.
"Explore the country, find out about the culture, and share his love of hoops with Australians.”
The camps, still accepting registrations, include Kyrie’s Rookie Camp, for ages nine-12, Emerging Stars Camp for 13-16, and the All-Stars Camp for ages 15 and over.
It’s an opportunity that isn’t exclusively for talented kids: Mitchell said there was room for everyone.
Anyone with hoop dreams, young and old alike, can sign up for a camp.
“This is about a celebration of basketball and giving as many people as we possibly can, access to one of the giants of the game.”
Mitchell said the camps could become an annual fixture if they were a success.
Details are available on the 1st Pick Hoops website.