Why Matthew Dellavedova has returned to his NBL roots

After a second stint in the NBA, Australian basketball superstar Matthew Dellavedova has returned to Melbourne United with a spring in his step.

He’s played in the biggest basketball arenas across the US, but there’s no place like home for Matthew Dellavedova.

The 33-year-old NBA champion and Olympic bronze medallist will enjoy a homecoming of sorts when he represents Melbourne United in the National Basketball League this season.

Returning to the NBL was an easy decision for Matthew Dellavedova

Born and bred in Maryborough in regional Victoria, Matthew has spent much of his career living and playing overseas and is relishing the opportunity to play on home soil like he did for Melbourne United in 2021.

“The atmosphere at John Cain Arena was awesome last time around and I’m looking forward to experiencing that again,” Matthew says.

“It’s cool to be able to feel that atmosphere, and the energy and excitement makes playing at home in front of friends and family a lot of fun.”

It’s that sense of fun and feeling of home that made returning to United and the NBL an easy decision for Matthew, wife Anna and their two young children.

“It was one of my most enjoyable seasons playing basketball and that’s why I wanted to come back to United and play with a lot of the same group, because 2021 was such a fun year,” Matthew explains.

“It was a really, really enjoyable season and obviously a tough finish losing in the semi-finals; I felt like we had our opportunity to win it all, and that’s what I want to do this time round.”

Matthew Dellavedova’s journey between NBA and NBL

Matthew’s return to United comes as the NBL continues to flourish and attract global talent while producing its own elite home-grown players.

“It’s really been incredible, and I think Larry (owner Larry Kestelman) and Jeremy (commissioner Jeremy Loeliger) deserve a lot of credit for that,” Matthew says.

“The standard and quality of the league is awesome, and I feel like it’s got even better since I was last here… I think over the last few years the NBL has been getting a lot more respect, the respect it deserves, from NBA scouts … and we’ve seen a lot of guys get picked up, whether it’s the Next Stars program, or they play NBL and go on to get a contract in the NBA.

“The league, the coaches, physios, strength and conditioning staff have done a really good job preparing players to continue to go on in their careers and make that jump – the NBL’s a tough, physical competition, and it helps guys get better.”

Matthew Dellavedova

Second time around was even harder

It’s a career pathway that Matthew can attest to.

His last NBL stint helped elevate him back into the NBA, earning a contract with the Sacramento Kings.

He first made the league in 2013 and three years later won a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I give a lot of credit to United, Dean (coach Dean Vickerman), the physios and strength and conditioning staff because I’d missed a bit of time on court and they really helped support me and get me back healthy, first of all; and then working on some different things,” Matthew says.

“I feel like I’ve never taken things for granted and had to really work to get into the NBA the first time after going undrafted, fighting my way through Summer League and training camp to make a roster.”

Matthew says it’s hard to make it to the NBA, but it’s even harder to get back in the second time.

“I knew it was going to be tough, but I tried to soak it up and enjoy each day,” he says.

“We had an awesome group in Sac this past season and Coach (Mike) Brown did an awesome job and I learned a lot from him.

“And it was a special group to break Sacramento’s 16-year finals drought – it was a really enjoyable season.”

Matthew Dellavedova NBA

Matthew Dellavedova’s health and wellbeing routine

Matthew follows a game plan on and off court to ensure he can train and play at a high level.

He says diet, wellness and sleep are all crucial to helping him reach optimal performance:

Taking time out

“Last time we were in Melbourne, my parents might look after the kids and my wife and I would go for a bike ride together, watch the sunset and take in the outdoors,” Matthew says.

“I like lifting weights, especially legs, and feel strong from doing that.”

Getting plenty of sleep

“I definitely make sure I’m getting enough sleep, and I have the best wife in the world who is very understanding,” Matthew says.

“I have some ear plugs and a white noise machine; I take some magnesium before bed, and sleep on an Eight Sleep tech mattress that cools down and tracks your sleep, which is cool.”

Eating well

“I like to eat a lot of steak and eggs (and) I love avocado; they are the main staples of my diet,” Matthew says.

“And coffee… a long black – I like being able to taste the coffee beans.”

Connecting to nature

“When it’s not raining in Melbourne, I like to get a lot of sunshine and some grounding outside, whether it’s on grass, dirt or sand,” he says.

Chemist Warehouse is a major partner of the NBL. The regular season began on 28 September 2023 and will conclude on 18 February 2024.

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Written by Megan Hustwaite.