Matt ‘Delly’ Dellavedova is one of the few notable Australians to have made it big in the NBA, launching his professional career off the back of his wildly successful time playing for St Mary’s College in California, which led to his being signed by champion team the Cleveland Cavaliers, which took him all the way to a championship. He’s now balling for the Milwaukee Bucks, and caught up with Man of Many during a recent visit back home.
First of all, being an Aussie in the NBA, what’s it like seeing more and more Aussies making it into the league?
It’s been awesome. I think we’ve got eight or nine now, but when we go on the road together we catch up for dinner on the nights before the games, get a chance to hang out. The more Aussies the better because we get to just hang out and spend some time together.
Yeah, that’s great. You’ve got an Aussie as your teammate now in Thon Maker. Have you seen him develop as a player and as a man in the NBA since he started?
It’s been pretty impressive. He was very, I’d say, raw, and inexperienced, he hasn’t played a lot of basketball, but with how hard he’s worked, in the weight room and on the court … The coaches and training staff basically have to drag him off the court because he just loves working so hard. He ended up starting in the playoffs, and he’s got pretty much unlimited potential. He’s, yeah … works really hard and is pretty competitive. I love playing with Thon. He’s just a great guy as well.
And your transition coming from the Cavs to the Bucks … How’s that changed? How’s your role changed with your new team?
On court it hasn’t really changed too much, but more, I would say, off-court and around the locker room. I went from being a younger player on an older, very experienced team with a lot of veterans that had won championships to the Bucks, where I’m now a more older veteran player on a younger, more inexperienced team. Only Jason Terry and myself have won championships so I’ve enjoyed being more vocal and having more of a leadership role with the Bucks.
And we know that you’re big into your AFL. Have you been able to convince any of your American teammates to become a Collingwood fan with you?
Yeah haha. Andy Varejão and Joey Harris from my Cleveland days and then Spencer Hawes and a few of the other boys in Milwaukee – I’m still working on that. It was pretty funny after one of the games, we had the TV on. Somebody was flicking through the channels and the footy was on one of the FOX sports channels over there. So we watched and [I] tried to explain the rules to them, which was very funny. I didn’t have long enough for them to fully understand though, I don’t think.
Yeah, I can imagine that’d be an interesting experience, trying show someone AFL for the first time. You’re back in Australia at the moment. What’s brought you back here?
Family and friends first of all, but also I have some sponsor and media commitments. I’ve been doing some stuff with Peak, who I have a basketball shoe with now, the Delly 1s, which is very cool. Some stuff with Spalding and then also, I was at TAG Heuer earlier today, doing a fun little promotional thing, a little activity, and working on reaction speed and people came in, took some photos and autographs and then they got to have a go at the reaction test as well, which was fun.
Can you talk us a bit through the reaction test at TAG? What did they have you doing?
Well first of all, they had me dribbling a basketball and … the machine that has lights that flash up and you have to tap. So the button that’s lit up and then a new button lights up. It tests your peripheral vision and reaction speed.
And you’re a friend of the brand of TAG Heuer. Have you always been into watches?
I remember when I started travelling overseas for basketball trips and on the back of, you know, in the aeroplanes magazines that always have photos of nice watches and I always said that one day, when I’m older, I’ll be able to get one of those nice watches and yeah, it’s pretty cool and an honour to be a friend of the brand of TAG Heuer and they’ve really taken care of me.
A big question everyone will want to know is which TAG watch are you wearing at the moment?
I’m wearing the Carrera Heuer 01. It’s my go-to if I ever wear a suit or for more formal outfits, but today they gave me the Connected Modular 45. It has a lot of interchangeable pieces and connects up to your phone. I’m looking forward to figuring out that one and getting the phone hooked up to that.
I know a lot of your counterparts in the NBA don’t mind a nice watch. They like to ‘ball out’ on and off the court. Which of your teammates do you think has the most baller watch collection?
In Cleveland, I’d say, either Lebron or maybe Tristan Thompson, he’s right into his fashion and accessories. Then, in Milwaukee, I might have to say Greg Monroe or John Henson. Those two, when guys walk into the locker room, it’s usually a conversation of what they’re wearing or what watches. Me just sitting, listening, trying to pick out some information and what they think is going on right now in that world.
Speaking of balling, a question that you’ve probably been asked a million times, what was it like to party after winning the NBA championship?
In Vegas or just in general?
We got to celebrate in the locker room for a while and it was pretty cool ‘cos our family could come down and celebrate with us and all the other people who were involved, the boss, the players, and the coaches and front office. I think Usher was a part owner so he was there. My sisters got a photo with him, which was pretty cool for them. Then we flew to Vegas for I think only four or five hours. It was a pretty quick stop off. Then it was a pretty quiet flight back to Cleveland after that. I think a few of the boys were having a bit of a snooze.
A well deserved one too. Do you think next season you’ll be celebrating another championship win?
That would be awesome. We have a great, young, exciting team who’s really hungry to do something special. I think we have the people to win a championship. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.
Last question for you, I heard you recently got married so congratulations on that.
The big question is: if you, down the track, push out a young athletic Delly junior, would you rather he win an NBA MVP award or a Brownlow medal?
Haha! That’s a tough one. It depends if he’s playing for Collingwood. Don’t know – how about that?