Matthew Dellavedova won’t be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season, but just after he was traded, the Delly letter let Cleveland know the city holds a special place in his heart.
And just like that, Matthew Dellavedova cashed in his championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers for greener pastures in Milwaukee.
Delly agreed to an offer sheet with the Milwaukee Bucks at the start of free agency, and the Cavs managed to acquire an asset for Delly by shipping him off in a sign-and-trade.
It was a melancholy day for Cavs fans, because while we know his impact doesn’t rival that of LeBron James or Kyrie Irving‘s, the Australian was important to the squad, and was beloved by Cavs Country.
He came to us undrafted from a country most of us didn’t even know cared about basketball. He played for peanuts in the world of massive NBA contracts. He was undersized, with many other unimpressive tangible strengths.
But his work ethic? He was from a different hemisphere, but the way he played the game screamed Cleveland.
And in his final act with the Cavs, Delly let the city know how much he felt the love. It’s one thing for guys who get paid to play a game to say they’re going to miss the city they broke in with. It’s another to name four or five moments they’ll never forget.
But that’s Delly.
When Delly first joined the Cavs, no one had any clue who he was. Remember, this was before LeBron came home.
Mike Brown was the coach. The veteran basketball man knew Delly because his son was being recruited by UNLV, which played Delly’s Saint Mary’s squad. The coach’s kid and Delly had even played pickup games together. Brown knew the Aussie could play defense. If he was going to hold a job in the NBA, “D” would be his key.
From a fan’s perspective, Delly was just another guy. He looked like the dude always playing in pickup games at the Westlake Rec.
However, in a world of giants, Delly played like he knew he was the No. 12 guy on the bench. For every minute of action he saw, the 6-foot-4 long shot fought and scrapped for a place in the NBA. He played the game like you would if you got shot to play NBA ball, and it didn’t take long for Cavaliers fans to recognize Delly’s passion.
When LeBron returned, his significance was magnified. Now Delly was on a good team everyone in the world paid attention to, and it became clear that he was more than a player who could just defend. He excelled in the pick-and-roll. His lobs to Tristan Thompson became stuff of legend. He became a dangerous threat from beyond the arc.
Delly worked his tail off, became a bonafide NBA player and Cleveland got front row seats to the show. Opponents called him “dirty.” Cleveland called him “blue collar.”
Now, Delly won’t have to worry about security, as his new deal with the Bucks will pay him $38 million over the next four years.
He may be with the Milwaukee Bucks, but this champion will welcomed in Cleveland any and every day. So when you see him when e’s back in town (probably drinking coffee), offer Delly a “G’day Mate,” give him a high, and ask him about the 2015 Finals game that sent him to the hospital for dehydration.
You never would’ve guessed it on day 1, but Delly became a Cleveland sports legend.