Sports

Kamloops' Kelly Olynyk is now a Boston Celtic

Kamloops product Kelly Olynyk is now a Boston Celtic. - Torrey Vail photo
Kamloops product Kelly Olynyk is now a Boston Celtic.
— image credit: Torrey Vail photo

“With the 13th pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks select Kelly Olynyk from Kamloops, Canada and Gonzaga University. Kelly is not here this evening.”

Those were the words of NBA commissioner David Stern as he announced the pick at the NBA draft in Brooklyn on Thursday, June 27.

Olynk made history as the first Kamloopsian ever taken in the NBA draft. The South Kamloops secondary grad was drafted by Dallas and immediately traded to the storied Boston Celtics.

No, Olynk wasn’t in attendance. He was watching from his Kamloops home with family and friends as Stern announced his name and hometown.

“It was a special time, to spend it with all the people that supported you and really been there for you your whole life, growing up, and really got me to where I am today,” Olynyk said.

“It was real nice and real special to be able to celebrate that with them and share that moment with them.”

When asked how he felt being the only Kamloopsian to ever be drafted into the NBA, Olynyk smiled and, with a laugh, replied, “it’s cool.

“To be able to be in this community and how much support this community has given me over the last five, six, seven years, it’s been huge,” Olynyk said.

“It’s great to look back and be able to give back to the community and come out and pave the way for young people growing up to really chase their dreams and aspirations and see that it is quite possible.”

Olynyk said he got where he is today through hard work, dedication and sacrifice, which the people who supported him in his youth instilled in him, allowing him to pursue his dreams.

Kelly’s father, Ken Olynyk, said it seemed fitting his son, who wears No. 13 on the court, would be taken 13th overall in the 2013 draft.

He said the house exploded with jubilation when Kelly was drafted and they celebrated with alcoholic and non-alcoholic champagne.

“I think that, as a father, I’m really pleased to see what he’s accomplished because he’s willing to work hard,” Ken said.

When his son was seven years old and said he wanted to play in the NBA, Ken asked Kelly to have a backup plan.

“But, that’s been his goal since he was seven years old and he never lost sight of that,” Ken said, adding there were trying times that jeopardized that goal.

It was a big night for Canadian basketball as Canadian forward for Anthony Bennett of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas also made history by becoming the first Canadian selected first overall in the NBA draft.

“It’s huge,” Olynyk said.

“I mean, for Bennett to do that, I mean that was amazing. I almost got just as excited to hear his name [as] number one as [I was] mine,” Olynk said, noting the selection is great for Canadian basketball, which he described as “on the rise.”

There were some twists and turns in the draft for Olynyk with the pick and trade by Dallas. The Mavericks sent Olynyk to the Celtics for Boston’s 16th overall pick and two future second-round picks.

“I knew a little bit about what was going on behind the scenes through the agents and stuff, but it was fun,” Olynyk said.

“It was fun to see it all unfold and I can’t be happier to be in Boston and it’s a great place, great city with great tradition — such a storied franchise — and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s a blessing to have this opportunity. It’s what you work for as a kid your whole life,” he said. “It’s every little kid’s dream to play in the NBA and to have that opportunity. I feel special and real blessed.”

Olynyk said Celtics management told him they were excited as well to have him joining their organization.

He said he will need to adapt to the faster, more physical NBA game.

Boston general manager Danny Ainge told CBS News he sees Olynyk in the power-forward position.

“He’s a really good complementary player,” Ainge told CBS. “He’s not a go-to guy, he’s not a star player, but he’s a really good teammate-type player. He complements other guys.”

Olynyk redshirted during his sophomore year at Gonzaga and returned to dominate with the Bulldogs, being named West Coast Conference Player of the Year while leading Gonzaga to a No. 1 ranking in the NCAA last season.

Olynyk admitted the feeling of being drafted still hasn’t completely sunk in.

He planned to spend a few days in Spokane — home of Gonzaga — before heading to Boston on Canada Day.

Olynyk’s focus will then turn to the NBA Summer League.

“It’s been a great experience so far and it’s the beginning of a new journey,” he said.

“One door closes, another one opens, so it’s truly an exciting place and exciting time.”

 

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