Kennedy Leonard – the Scottish 3×3 star who grew up in Michael Jordan-crazy Chicago

Kennedy Leonard honed her basketball skills at the gym where superstar Michael Jordan worked out, but she’s excited for the chance to make her Dundee-born mother proud at the Commonwealth Games.

Leonard, 25, is part of the Scotland women’s 3×3 basketball team in Birmingham but spent her entire childhood on the other side of the Atlantic.

Born in New Jersey in September 1996, her family moved to Chicago nine months later, just before Jordan began his “Last Dance” season with the Chicago Bulls, which ended in a sixth NBA title.

“If you grow up in Chicago or spend any time in Chicago, you’re automatically tuned into the Bulls and Michael Jordan at that time,” Leonard told the PA news agency.

“So it was cool to grow up and be surrounded by it and be so close to something so iconic.”

Leonard played and watched the sport full-time with her basketball-mad father and attended the Bulls’ summer camps, where she had the opportunity to play in the same arenas where Jordan and his teammates would have trained.

The Bulls’ magic clearly rubbed off on her when she was offered college scholarships to play the sport and entered the University of Colorado at Boulder program.

On her Twitter page, she talks about how people told her she was “not good enough, too small and too slow” but proved them wrong.

Her success continued in Colorado when she broke the university’s all-time assists record. An untimely injury ruled her out of the WNBA draft and she moved to Europe, first to Germany before joining the London Lions.

She was part of a women’s Lions team that won four titles last season and won each of the 24 WBBL games it played last season.

Representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games has made Leonard, whose mother moved to South Africa from Dundee as a toddler before her talent for swimming took her to the United States as a teenager, even more important.

“My mom is super proud,” Leonard said.

Scotland’s Kennedy Leonard drives past Australia’s Alex Wilson (Martin Rickett/PA)

(PA wire)

“Her parents are both Scottish, my grandpa passed away a while ago but my grandma only died of Covid last year.

“So I think it’s super cool for my mum to be able to see me play for Scotland. I think it probably brings back some really good memories of her family and her childhood and also her legacy.

“My father isn’t Scottish, but you wouldn’t know that. He wears the entire Scotland kit. When he arrived in Birmingham he went to the Scotland House team store and bought a jumper and a hat, he has all the goods. He’s ready to go.”

The 3×3 and wheelchair basketball competitions made their game debuts on Friday to a near sell-out crowd.

Leonard and her Scottish team-mates became the first home team to play Australia before bouncing back later in the day with a win over Sri Lanka. They complete their pool program on Sunday against Kenya ahead of Monday’s quarter-finals.

Matches last 10 minutes – ending before that when a team reaches 21 points – with live commentary, background music – Stormzy’s “Vossi Bop” was featured – and even “media breaks” where the commentator has a brief chat with an expert along the way The players take a breather.

Loving the way this modern half-court version of basketball has found a home at the games, Leonard said, “With so many sports, you have to be a silent spectator, you can’t enjoy it or focus on the moment in basketball — especially.” 3×3 – is very human related.

“It might not traditionally be what people expect from Commonwealth Games, but I think it’s something that can break that barrier and make it more enjoyable for fans and people of all ages to watch.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/chicago-bulls-michael-jordan-scotland-chicago-birmingham-b2134694.html Kennedy Leonard – the Scottish 3×3 star who grew up in Michael Jordan-crazy Chicago

Fry Electronics Team

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