From Kamloops to the NBA finals
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
Although this year’s NBA finals did not include a Canadian team’s participation, it did include a player who was not only born in Canada, but who made a name for himself in BC.
Kelly Olynyk, forward for the Miami Heat, grew up in Ontario before moving to Kamloops in the seventh grade where he became a Canadian superstar playing for South Kamloops Secondary School.
Olynyk played a key role for the Heat in this series, scoring a combined 41 points in games two and three while filling in for an injured Bam Adebayo.
“I knew that right now was the time where I have to step up and make some plays on the offensive end for us,” said Olynyk in a post-game interview with NBATV after game three.
At the high school level, Olynyk was named Basketball BC Outstanding High School Player of the Year in grade 12, as his dominant performance guided South Kamloops to a 36-2 record, and at the time became “the first player in the 64-year history of the BC Triple A championships to lead the field in scoring, rebounding, and assists,” according to The Province.
This then led to many NCAA division one institutions looking to recruit him including Syracuse, Providence, and North Carolina State. However, he ultimately chose to commit to Gonzaga because of the school’s proximity to his home.
In his junior year at Gonzaga, he averaged around 18 points and seven rebounds while shooting almost 63 percent from the field. He then decided to opt out of his senior year and declare for the 2013 NBA draft where he was selected 13th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, and then traded to the Boston Celtics.
His first couple of years with the Celtics had their ups and downs, but when it came time for him to hit the free agency market in the summer of 2017, Olynyk decided to sign a four-year $50 million contract with the Miami Heat.
Olynyk averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists in his first year with the Heat. Although they did not make the playoffs after his first year there, the Heat bounced back this year and catapulted their way to the NBA finals.
The team unfortunately ended up losing to the Lakers in six games, however the mere fact that Olynyk and the Heat got to the finals more than exceeded expectations for the team. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Olynyk and the rest of the Miami Heat.