Boom Recruit

22 June 2011

Written by: James Rosewarne

In this Friday’s NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers will select Duke University point-guard Kyrie Irving with the number one pick.

Not only will it be a major step in the healing process for Cavs fans in the wake of LeBron James skipping town a year ago, but in selecting Irving, the state of Victoria will amazingly have its second NBA number one pick in five years.

Irving was born in Melbourne in 1992 to American parents while his father Drederik was in Australia playing for the Bullen Boomers. The family moved back to the US when Kyrie was two and went on to have a staggering high school career in New Jersey, along with an impressive, albeit brief, spell at Duke.

Most importantly, however, for future Boomers prospects, is the fact Irving still indentifies with Australia and hasn’t totally ruled out playing for his country of birth.

In a recent interview with BackPageLead’s Ed Wyatt, Irving stated: ‘I’m an Australian-American African-American’. In a separate interview Irving added: ‘You know, it would be great to play for my country, which is primarily Australia. I was born there and want to represent Australia….I want to be claimed by Australia’.

It might indeed be wishful thinking for Australian basketball fans to contemplate Irving playing representative basketball for a country he spent just two years in. However there’s a compelling case to believe it’s a possibility.

As it stands the US national team is currently loaded with established NBA talent at the guard position. To think Irving could jump the cue and supersede some of the world’s very best, so early, is doubtful.

It’s where reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose plies his trade, along with team US members and perennial NBA all-stars such as Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul. Others like Rajon Rondo, Derrick Williams, Stephen Curry and Russel Westbrook also excel at the point-guard position.

It would, of course, be an incredible coup to recruit Irving to the Boomers’ cause, though there are still some obstacles standing in the way, forgetting for the moment Irving himself has given no guarantee of intent.

The major problem is that Irving has previously represented the US at junior level and there are strict FIBA regulations that prohibit players competing for two nations.

However, there exists a vague stipulation where FIBA’s Secretary-General may authorise such a move if he or she believes it would aid the development of basketball in that country.

If Irving were to play for Australia, it would certainly aid development.

The Boomers have contested 12 Olympic tournaments and 10 World Championships over the past 50 years, yet failed to win a single medal in either competition.

For all of Australia’s basketball achievements, which include individual accolades in both the US and Europe, the national team has proven somewhat of a let-down. Especially when considering the success of the women’s national representative team – the Opals – who have contested 18 major tournaments for seven medals, including gold at the 2006 World Championships in Brazil.

Whether Irving opts to play for Australia and whether FIBA would back the plan are two outcomes which are currently in the air. However Basketball Australia would be remiss to not explore all opportunities.

It could well be the difference in securing a long sort-after medal and the difference between further developing the game in this country.

James Rosewarne is a Masters of Global Communications student at La Trobe University and upstart’s sports editor. You can follow him on Twitter: @jamesrosewarne