When Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 26 points to help his team oust the Washington Wizards in the do-or-die semifinal Game 7, his parents Arlene and Ken were “literally screaming” at their television set in their Kamloops home.
“It’s always surrealistic for both Arlene and I anytime we’re watching TV and there’s our son playing on the biggest stage and doing very well at the best time and the biggest time,” Kelly’s dad Ken said.
His mom Arlene says it a nerve wracking experience.
“If I watch it on TV, I can leave or hear from the kitchen and Ken will say it’s OK, you can come out,” she laughed.
Olynyk delivered big on Monday night along with teammate Isaiah Thomas (who earned 29 points), earning a berth in the Eastern Conference final against the reigning champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While his parents are immensely proud and unsurprised by his star turn — other commentators were shocked and delighted.
Kelly Olynyk found this bottle and chugged it. pic.twitter.com/ldxllcUe6U
REPLACE LARRY BIRD’S JERSEY IN THE RAFTERS WITH KELLY OLYNYK’S
“He’s been in games where he’s played really well and the team he’s on hasn’t won, so he hasn’t had the opportunity to enjoy that effort. This time, he got to enjoy the effort,” said Ken.
Just like ‘sitting in South Kam’
The Olynyks have attended some of Kelly’s games in person.
“Boston does like Kelly. I find it like sitting at South Kam [loops Secondary School where Kelly went to high school]. I go in and I know the people around me,” Arlene said.
Attending a game in Washington was very different.
‘We’re very proud that he played high school basketball in Kamloops’
– Arlene Olynyk, Kelly’s mom
“There were about 17,000 people, give-or-take five that were booing him every time he touched the ball. As a mom, you get a little bit nauseous,” she said.
They’ll be flying out to Boston on Friday to watch some more games in person even though Arlene admits it’ll be tense.
Listen to the interview with Kelly Olynyk’s parents on CBC’s Daybreak Kamloops:
The Celtics will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James — widely considered to be the best basketball player in the world.
“He knows that it’s going to be tough,” said Ken, who was the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Toronto and the Canadian junior men’s national team.
“Boston’s not going to match them one-on-one, but as a team, they can match them well. If they continue to play well as a team, then they have a shot.”
A path for Canadian players
Arlene said Kelly’s journey is proof that promising Canadian athletes can stay in Canada through their younger years.
Unlike many promising athletes who take off to a U.S. prep school to play basketball in Grade 9 or 10, Olynyk…