Basketball: Allred's odd road leads to Nuggets

There are a few things you should know about Lance Allred:

• He was raised on a polygamous commune in rural Montana.
• He was the first legally deaf basketballer to play in the NBA.
• He has battled an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
• He played alongside superstar LeBron James at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
• He wrote a book about most of the above and has a sequel in the pipeline.

So, nothing out of the ordinary. Did we mention he is here to play for the Otago Nuggets?

• New start for point guard  

The 2.11m (six feet 11 inches in old numbers) centre arrived in Dunedin yesterday with fellow American import and friend Scott O'Gallagher.

"It has been an interesting road, that's for sure," he said when asked about his background.

"I could have never have predicted it. But you get to a point where you say, `Hey, there is no road map for life'. You've got to go where it takes you and enjoy it. That is all you can do."

Three years ago, with the Cavaliers trailing Orlando Magic by 12 with 18sec left, then coach Mike Brown gave Allred his NBA debut. They are called junk minutes in basketball but you have to really earn them.

Allred played three games for the Cavaliers that year and a total of 10 minutes, scoring three points. It was brief stint in the NBA, but not many make it to that level.

He is the first player with NBA experience to suit up for the Nuggets. It is a big deal and, with his credentials, the 30-year-old is bound to have a big impact on the league and, hopefully, help end the Nuggets' 27-game losing streak.

So the next question should have been about basketball. And it would have been, had the contrast between growing up in a polygamous commune and jet-setting around with the Cavs not been so intriguing.

On his first night with the team, he watched some of his new team-mates gamble thousands of dollars like it was funny money.

"It was so surreal. I can't even begin to explain it. I grew up in a world where we didn't have much."

And LeBron James?"There were some days when LeBron was kind of in that don't-speak-to-me-unless-I-speak-to-you-first attitude which you would expect from any star. But for the most part, coming out of high school with all that money and fame thrown your way, he has done a pretty good job.

"There were a lot of times he went out of his way to accommodate me, which I never would have expected."

Allred's family moved away from the commune when he was 7 and broke away from the sect when he was a teenager. He discovered organised basketball as a gangly and awkward 13-year-old and his life took a different course.

"If I can get a little deep for a minute: I grew up in a polygamist commune with a socialist structure where everybody was supposed to be sacrificing things for the greater good. That's why, when we left, I really embraced basketball. I was so used to giving something of myself for a common goal.

"On some levels, that has been a hindrance for me. There are guys in the NBA or in other leagues who only play for themselves and not the team. They are blatantly self-promoting and not even worried about winning." 


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