Already an NBA champion with his own shoe line, brand of coffee and endorsements, Matthew Dellavedova is next apparently going to be the subject of an upcoming feature film about his life and unlikely rise from Australian nobody to suddenly famous starting Bucks guard and basketball cult hero.
Unfortunately, the perfect title, "True Grit" is already the name of another movie, and one that was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2010, so here's hoping the project will instead be called "Truly Gritty: The Matthew Dellavedova Story." I'm no IP lawyer, but that should be fine.
Dellavedova and Bruce Kaider, his manager and business partner, are reportedly collaborating with Los Angeles-based producers Zachary Green and Jason Shuman to make the picture, which is set to begin production next year.
"I am honoured that Bruce, Zachary and Jason think enough about my journey to turn it into a feature film," Dellavedova said in a press release. "I am thrilled to be working with this incredible group to tell my story to inspire kids around the world to dream big and that hard work and perseverance pays off."
Dellavedova, who signed a free-agent contract with Milwaukee this offseason for four years and $38 million, has come a long way from the rural small town of Maryborough, Victoria. Along that long way, the modest and ostensibly ordinary point guard's improving style of play has been described in a lot of ways, not all of them entirely positive, from "feisty" to "scrappy" to "hardworking," though none with as much double-edged frequency as "gritty."
In the statement, Green went with a different adjective, saying, "Everyone dreams of the one-in-a-million chance of playing in the NBA, but this blue-collar kid actually achieved it. I am looking forward to bringing this story to the big screen."
After playing his junior basketball for the Maryborough Blazers and Bendigo Braves and representing Victoria Country at the state level, Delly attended the Australian Institute of Sport for three years, before debuting for the country's senior national team. He then came to the U.S. and played four seasons at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, three times being named First-Team All-West Coast Conference and finishing his college career as the Gaels' all-time leader in scoring, assists, games played, free-throw percentage and three-point shots.
Still, Dellavedova went undrafted in 2013, eventually joining Cleveland's Summer League squad and earning his way onto the team. During the 2014-15 season, Dellavedova participated in the league's Rising Stars Challenge during the All-Star Break and, in the playoffs, scored 19 points in the Eastern Conference Finals and 20 points against Golden State in the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers lost the series and Delly was criticized, unfairly according to some, for supposedly dirty play.
Last year, Dellavedova averaged career highs in points (7.5), assists (4.4), rebounds (2.1), steals (0.6) and minutes (24.6), while shooting 40.5 percent on field goals and 41.0 percent on three-pointers. In January, he was voted the "dirtiest player in the NBA" in a Los Angeles Times poll of 24 fellow players, coaches and assistants. Nevertheless, he helped the Cavaliers advance through the postseason to the Finals, where they again faced the Warriors, this time winning the title and celebrating by playing beer pong at Delly's place.
In a different championship celebration, the Aussie gave the world this most perfect picture:
Proving himself a valuable, versatile, hustling guard, who averaged 11.0 points and 9.3 assists per 36 minutes in 2015-16 and always played tough defense, Dellavedova had been targeted by the Bucks since last season's trade deadline. They signed him to an offer sheet on July 1, the first day teams were allowed to negotiate with players. Dellavedova was prematurely congratulated by superstar Cavs teammate LeBron James, who tweeted, "Good luck in Milwaukee! Very deserving to you and your family."
Dellavedova's annual salary of $9.5 million with Milwaukee is more than eight times what he made with Cleveland. Over the past six months, he got his own Cleveland Coffee Company brand blend called "G'Day, Mate," a national partnership with Panera Bread and a new signature shoe, the Delly 1.
Quite the portfolio, indeed.
And, with the film currently being written and production set for 2017 in Australia, Dellavedova will soon have his own movie, too. According to the release, it will be along the lines of "Hoosiers" and "Rocky," putting it squarely, and fittingly, in the uplifting sports drama genre.
"Delly’s inspirational story about overcoming the odds is one everyone can relate to," said Kaider, who, along with Dellavedova, will serve as an executive producer. "In real life, it played out just like a movie."
This season, pairing with 6-foot-11 Bucks point-forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dellavedova has played more off the ball on offense and guarded the opponent's point man on defense. He's improved on all of his previous career highs, averaging 7.6 points, a team-best 6.0 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 28.9 minutes, while shooting 40.6 percent from the field. Although his three-point shot hasn't been falling as well of late, he's proven to be a capable complementary player and an excellent fit in Milwaukee, providing depth in the team's backcourt and becoming a fan favorite.
In September, Dellavedova got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Anna Schroeder, and a couple weeks later the two had the ultimate Wisconsin sports experience.
Before the season started, Dellavedova sat down with the guys from the Pardon My Take podcast for an entertaining interview about, among other things, accents and killing snakes.
In a recent ESPN story, former NBA title-winner and current Australian national team assistant coach Luc Longley heaped praise on his countryman.
"As an example of what Aussie kids might be, and could be, to basketball in Australia or America, Delly's the one I would hang my hat on and say, 'Let's look at that and try to emulate that,'" Longley said. "By any measure, outside the bit above his shoulders, he's not what everyone would call talented. He's not particularly fast; he's pretty strong, but he's not an especially talented specimen.
"So what Delly's done is worked himself into the NBA by preparation; by hustle (and) intelligence. Studying the game. Just an incredible ability (in terms of) basketball I.Q. Understanding what needs to get done in a game. I haven't been around a guy like him ever."
I asked people on Twitter who they think should star as Dellavedova in his new film, which has not yet cast the lead role. Here are some of the best responses:
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
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