“I wear Nike Hyperdunk every year on the court and just regular Nike sneakers off of it.” That probably best describes Barcelona shooting guard Kyle Kuric. Little flair, not much style but all work and substance on the hardwood.
Kuric isn’t the type of player or person that will be hanging around town in Jordan 1’s or the latest designer sneaker while on the court he will shy away from the KD’s, Kyrie’s or Lebron’s as the Evansville, Indiana native stays close to his roots and wears the standard off the shelf Hyperdunk.
The 6”4 sharp shooter has been through it all from playing for a top program under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino at Louisville to spending time working his way up the ladder in Spain. Oh and by the way did we mention that he almost lost his life due to a brain tumor while playing for Gran Canaria in 2015?
“I think sometimes we take life for granted and we push things off because we have time. But now I take my time very seriously and I have started a plan to take advantage of that,” Kuric told me. But for right now the plan is to play his best basketball for Barcelona and help them go to the top of the Euroleague.
“I feel good so far this season. We have some injuries and we’re winning games but we do have a couple of losses on the road. The Euroleague is a tough league and I don’t know why they’ve had a tough time as they have a good team and a good coach. In the Euroleague it’s key to win as many games as possible at home.”
Barça brought Nikola Mirotić back to Europe after five seasons in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls and most recently the Milwaukee Bucks and will look at the power forward to provide some firepower to their uptempo offense under veteran coach Svetislav Pešić. “He’s a talented player and he’s great to have with us here. He has a great mindset and provides a lot of leadership.”
Kuric grew up in Evansville and went to Memorial High School the same one attended by former Major League Baseball Star and current manager Don Mattingly, “he’s one of the biggest names to have ever come out of our city.”
But as Kuric continued to hone his trade on the basketball court thanks to the support of his parents Steve and Judi Louisville and coach Pitino came calling, “When I was growing up I was a Duke Basketball fan but Louisville provided me with the best opportunity I had to play college ball. I had chances at other schools in the Big Ten and had an opportunity to go to Duke but they wanted me to play at another school first and then possibly walk on. Louisville was a guaranteed scholarship and I could play right away.”
The decision was a no brainer and provided some relationships that will last for a lifetime, “I talk to Peyton Siva who is playing at Alba Berlin and he is probably my closest friend from my time at Louisville.” As for coach Pitino who stood on the Panathinaikos sidelines last season, he’s now win the Greece National Team as he will try to guide them to the 2020 Olympics in Japan, “We saw what he could do with Panathinaikos and they needed a coach to take them over the hump with quality and he’s a character coach.”
What’s interesting to note is that Barcelona Basketball and Football along with other sports including handball are all part of the same sports club, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean Kuric gets to rub shoulders with Leo Messi, “The basketball club and football club don’t have much to do with each other. As for Leo Messi our kids play soccer together and my wife has seen him but I haven’t as of yet.”
“No basketball team gets the same attention as soccer because it’s king. But basketball is getting more and more popular here in Spain. When I first started playing here there was one game on tv per week and now there are many more. The more titles we win the more popular basketball will get.”
Having the opportunity to play in one of Europe’s best basketball leagues, the ACB is a challenge to say the least. With 1-2 Euroleague games a week and then another Spanish league contest as well, the players are tested by every single team in the league, “The league has a lot of quality from top to bottom and if you don’t take a game seriously anyone can win on any given day. The fans are good and they take the basketball that we play in Spain very seriously.”
With a huge matchup this week between Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv looming, Kuric is well aware that the Yellow & Blue have been playing solid ball winning six Euroleague games in a row, “Maccabi’s been having a great season and the last few games they’ve won by 20-30 points. It shows their ability but it’s still early and they have a chance but many things can happen.”