Matthew Dellavedova and Kyrie Irving have shared a special bond together the past two years being on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When Irving was out for the 2015 NBA Finals, Delly filled in by playing crucial minutes for a depleted Cleveland roster with LeBron James. In 2016, Delly fell out of the rotation, so Irving returned the favor playing big minutes versus Stephen Curry en route to a Cavs championship.
Delly, of course, is now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, so the two will have a chance to face off against each other for the first time as non-teammates this upcoming season.
On Wednesday, they will get their first taste of that when Team USA faces off against Australia in Olympic basketball. There's a good chance we will see Irving and Delly guard each other.
The two reflected on that with USA Today, in which the story mentioned how the two were so competitive against each other during practices that they would get into yelling and shoving matches.
In practices, Dellavedova – an undrafted rookie scrapping to make the 15-man roster – went after Irving.
“I would pick him up full court every day, and he probably didn’t like it much at first,” Dellavedova said.
Irving – the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 – didn’t like Dellavedova’s irksome style.
Shoving and yelling were not unusual in those heated practices.
“It was very competitive, high intensity,” said Irving, who lived in Australia as a kid while his dad played pro basketball there.
But the result of their cutthroat practices had a positive effect. Irving got used to aggressive defense, and Dellavedova became a better defender.
“Defending him has helped my game a lot,” Dellavedova said.
Said Irving: “It’s been good for the both of us.”
I still remember how much of an annoyance Dellavedova was to Steph Curry in the 2015 Finals, so I can't imagine how much he probably bothered Irving during practices.