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When Kyrie Irving suffered a season-ending fractured kneecap in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals, many observers expected the Cleveland Cavaliers — already playing without Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao — to be simply too short-handed to function against the Golden State Warriors. Instead, they've stomped to a 2-1 sieres lead behind the nearly unprecedented brilliance of LeBron James, suffocating defense and, somewhat shockingly, the stout defensive work, timely offensive contributions and irrepressible hustle of Matthew Dellavedova, who has gone from understudy to international phenomenon in short order.
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Dellavedova's work in limiting league MVP Stephen Curry and his Johnny-on-the-spot knack for coming away with loose balls have made him Cleveland's newest folk hero. He's getting feted in food form. He's been celebrated via myriad memes. He's seen his jersey become the NBA's hottest piece of apparel and the secondary-market value of his rookie card skyrocket. And now, the 24-year-old triggerman's receiving a pretty cool honor from his hometown of Maryborough, Australia, according to local news site 3AW.com.au:
The quiet town of Maryborough is planning on renaming its basketball stadium the "Dellavedova Dome" in honour of local star Matthew Dellavedova. [...]
While the Cavaliers have far from sealed the seven-game series - they lead 2-1 - Central Goldfield Shire CEO Mark Johnson told 3AW Breakfast Dellavedova had done enough to have his home-town stadium named after him.
"That's where Matt Dellavedova learned his craft and the Maryborough Basketball Association have suggested that the stadium, which is a two-court stadium, ought to be renamed after Matthew," Mr Johnson told 3AW Breakfast.
"He's certainly put Maryborough on the world map, it's just fantastic.
"Obviously there's a process to go through."
A less charitable sort might suggest that process should include "waiting a bit longer to make sure Dellavedova doesn't turn back into a pumpkin before getting a new sign made," but what kind of heel wants to be less charitable? Go for the glory, Maryborough. Get swept up in the absurdity. Celebrate the rise of one of your favorite sons.
This type of thing doesn't happen every day, and least of all in the tiny Victoria town, as noted by Will Gibson of Waiting for Next Year:
People in Maryborough who have scarcely heard of the NBA are suddenly learning all about a team called Cavaliers from a place called Cleveland, cheering their boy on from some 10,000 miles away. The games start at 10 or 11 a.m. Australian time, and kids are allegedly skipping school to watch. They’ve gone mad for Matthew in Maryborough. [...]
The Maryborough Advertiser came up with the hashtag [#boroughbacksdelly] and dedicated the front page of its June 2 edition to Dellavedova, printing a GO DELLY headline and a photo of area children sporting Cavs gear. Established in 1854 and one of Victoria’s oldest newspapers, the Advertiser has been covering the Cavs’ playoff run as well as any daily in the province, having printed stories about the team defeating the Chicago Bulls (DELLY ON A HIGH) and the Atlanta Hawks (EAST CHAMPS), as well as their Game 2 victory over the Warriors in the Finals (GAME SAVER). [...]
Maryborough has wholeheartedly dived into the NBA in the name of supporting the local boy made good, and in truth, it sounds like they’re ready for a new sporting hero to cheer on.
Sure, maybe Dellavedova's time in the sun ends in a hail of Curry 3s in Game 4, and the mismatch many anticipated winds up becoming reality, albeit a bit later than expected. Even so, nobody can ever take away his contributions in Games 2 and 3; that stuff happened, and is now written in permanent ink and trapped in the amber of NBA history.
It's the kind of beautifully bonkers development that only unscripted entertainment like pro sports can provide. Something as close-to-home as a tip of can in the form of renaming a gym seems like a pretty fine tribute for a player who's done an awful lot of work to put both himself and his town on the NBA map.
Hat-tip to Bleacher Report.
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