Only seven Canadians have won the NBA Championship and right now there are two Canadians in the NBA Finals and they both play for the Miami Heat. One is NBA vet of seven years Kelly Olynyck, of Kamloops British Columbia the other is rookie Kyle Alexander from Milton, Ontario.
Alexander only started playing basketball at a competitive level six years ago. He got his first NBA action on August 6 in the bubble in Florida vs the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Not a lot of kids from Canada can say that they’ve done that,” he said from his room in the Walt Disney World Complex in Florida.
“Not a lot of kids can say that they started at the age of 16 and somehow found their way onto the NBA for their rookie year.”
Just over a month after stepping on the court in his first NBA game, Alexander was celebrating his team clinching the Eastern Conference Final.
“For me to start my career and see what it takes to go into winning an NBA Conference Championship and going to the NBA Finals is awesome!” he explained
“Every team does it differently but to see and be a part of this [Miami] Heat culture and to see the true passion that goes into it and the hard work has been great. It’s been awesome to be able to be here, this early in my career and then be able to apply this later as I continue to grow as a basketball player.”
Alexander isn’t the only basketball star in his family, his sister Kayla has played in the WNBA for the last seven years.
Her latest season was with the Minnesota Lynx who were playing just 170 kilometers from where he is in her own quarantine bubble with the WNBA.
“Her experiences are obviously a little different than mine even though she’s only about an hour-and-a-half away from me but you know she was really enjoying it,” he explained.
“She’s always been an incredible role model. The model child sibling you know parents always say ‘can do more like her?’” Alexander said laughing.
“You know she’s always just been the perfect person and she’ll never admit it, but she’s just a great human being.”
While Alexander’s journey to the NBA is a fascinating story because it’s so rare for an athlete to start playing basketball at 16 and make it to the NBA, he also lived in the motel in Orangeville where the Emmy Award winning show Schitt’s Creek was filmed.
“I was there with Jamal [Murray] actually and Thon [Maker], but Thon didn’t stay there though he was too big for us,” Kyle said jokingly.
He is talking about the Orangeville prep school they all attended where, at one point, some of the students lived in the now famous motel.
“I’ve watched the first four seasons of the show. I think it’s incredible.”
He only started playing basketball when he was 16 and now is in the #NBAFinals in his rookie year. Had the joy of speaking with @KyleJamal4 of the @MiamiHEAT for @citynews tonight. Fun fact: he used to live in the #SchittsCreek motel with fellow #NBA star #JamalMurray:. pic.twitter.com/wehBAODZ7I
— Lindsay Dunn (@LindsayDunnTV) October 6, 2020
“I think that Jamal and I actually stayed where the moms and dads’ room (was), Jamal was my roommate I think that’s where we stayed,” he said.
“I’m not gonna to lie though, I mean, we were kids you know so obviously we complained in the moment, but we always talk about it now and how we wouldn’t change a thing. Like we really think those are the best years of our lives being out there being kids.”
While he no longer has to stay in that motel, he has been in the quarantined bubble in Disney World for more than 90 days and made sure he had something to keep him occupied — his keyboard.
“I didn’t bring it with me at first, I got it shipped to me … after like three weeks of being here but honestly, I haven’t had the time to play with all of the practices and games,” Alexander explained.
“I haven’t even opened it to take out the box but during quarantine I definitely was trying to get those skills going. I learned a little bit by teaching myself some songs but now that we’re here you know I’ve just been really locked in on, on the basketball and learning as much as I can. And when I get back to my room you know I’m usually watching game film or something so just not a lot of time to get my John Legend on.”
Yes, at a beginner level of learning piano he was trying to teach himself the piano playing star John Legend’s song ‘All of Me’. It’s a hard song to learn for a beginner, but I would argue playing in the NBA after only picking up a ball less than six years early is harder. So get ready for a future Instagram video of him mastering the song.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers is Tuesday night at 9 p.m.