Delly's long journey from undrafted guard to NBA champion and signature athlete

Paul Lintag on Jul 21, 2017 08:49 PM
Delly's journey from undrafted guard to signature athlete
Four years ago, Matthew Dellavedova was an undrafted NBA prospect. Now, he's an NBA champion AND a signature athlete for a legitimate sporting brand.

It would have been easy for Matthew Dellavedova to give up after his professional basketball career didn't exactly start the way he would have hoped for.

Following a successful college career at St. Mary's, having his jersey retired by the team after emerging as the all-time leader in scoring, assists, and games played, Delly went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft.

It would have been easy for the heady point guard to give up after he didn't hear his name called during the Associations's annual selection showcase, but in true Delly fashion, Dellavedova quickly went to work in order to start turning his fortunes around, scrapping his way to the NBA. 

"I had a great time  at St. Mary's and then I went and did about 14-15 draft workouts for different NBA teams before the Draft," Dellavedova told ABS-CBN Sports Friday as he recounted his journey to the league.

The 26-year-old point guard is in the Philippines as part of his promotional tour with Chinese sporting brand Peak.

"[I] sat there on Draft night and as the names kind of kept coming out, I didn't get picked and I was pretty disappointed and upset obviously," he said.

"But I went back to the gym that night and got some shots up and really promised myself that I was gonna get on a team no matter what," Delly added.

The Australian standout did end up getting a team that year, landing on Cleveland's opening-day roster after a long process of joining the Cavaliers' Summer League team and training camp lineup.

Delly described the moment of receiving the official confirmation of him making the team as a something pretty special because his gamble on himself practically paid off big time.

"I had to really believe in myself when none of the other teams really didn't," he said.

While he was obviously never the star in Ohio, Delly did found success as a Cleveland Cavalier, earning the infamous reputation as one of the team's enforcers as LeBron James and co. ran amok in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

In 2015, Dellavedova was put in the spotlight as he filled in for Kyrie Irving in the NBA Finals as the former top overall pick hurt himself against the Golden State Warriors.

Through six hard-fought games, Delly pestered MVP Stephen Curry and made the Dubs work for their championship.

The next year, Dellavedova was part of the Cavaliers team that made history, beating the 73-9 Warriors for the title after coming back from a 1-3 series deficit.

"It was a pretty crazy two years of my life really. The Finals is the biggest stage there is for basketball and everybody is watching. The first year was crazy with Kyrie going down and having to step in and play a lot of minutes and have a lot of responsibility. Unfortunately, we came up short that year but it served as more motivation individually and for the whole team to get it done the next year," Delly said on the 2015 Finals.

"Even though we were 3-1 down, having a guy named LeBron on your team, when he still believes and is confident that he can get it done, that just resonates with the whole team. Even though we were down 3-1, when he's saying 'we're gonna win the next game', you believe him. It was really special to be a part of, Cleveland hadn't won a major championship for over 50 years, to see the excitement of the fans at the parade, it was something that I will never forget," he added of the 2016 championship rematch.

Following his first NBA title, Dellavedova got his first big NBA payday, joining the Milwaukee Bucks on a four-year, $38 million deal.

Around that same time, his first signature shoe for Peak was revealed before it was finally made available to the public this year.

His first season with the Bucks didn't result in a title obviously but Milwauke made a late push to make the playoffs before falling short against the Toronto Raptors after leading their first round series two separate times.

"I think we showed a lot of resilience as a team, we made a good run towards the playoffs late in the year, unfortunately we came up short vs. Toronto but I think the future is very bright," Delly said of Milwaukee's season.

After going undrafted, Dellavedova battled his way to make it to the NBA. Four years after his dreams were almost shattered, he's been an NBA champion, a proud signature athlete with a legitimate brand, and a key piece to a potential Eastern Conference power.

Not bad.

"I think we showed a lot of resilience as a team, we made a good run towards the playoffs late in the year, unfortunately we came up short vs. Toronto but I think the future is very bright," Delly said.

 

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