Benn Mathurin and Lu Dort, two kids from Montreal, who made it out and remain close
Dort: "That’s really my brother. We got a lot of stuff planned for this summer and I just can’t wait to see him again.”
Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin is purposeful in everything that he does. There are no wasted movements. That includes his actions postgame, where he is routinely one of their first players out of the locker room.
Last Friday night, it was for a very specific reason. One of his best friends was in town and he wanted to catch up. It just so happens that said friend had just spent the majority of the game defending him.
When Mathurin was a lottery pick last June, taken sixth overall by the Pacers, he was asked several times what looked forward to most. It wasn’t what you’d expect — not the big paycheck, bigger platform or going against superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry.
That’s special and all, but everything is about family for Mathurin. And Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort is basically family.
They grew up nearby, both are of Haitian descent, played AAU basketball for Brookwood Elite and college basketball in the state of Arizona before making it to the NBA.
“We're from the same neighborhood,” Mathurin said at the Barclays Center on draft night. “I used to see him, call him my big bro. Now we're at the next level, so it's about time for me to show him who's really the big bro. Looking forward to playing against him.”
Dort is 23 years old and has been in the NBA for four seasons. He didn’t plan to be one-and-done at Arizona State University, but he gained confidence through his play and the coaching staff there.
Whereas Mathurin was also really good at hockey growing up, Dort was an exceptional soccer player. He was the goalkeeper, which required footwork, agility and defense. Those are his trademark traits as a defender in the NBA.
“All my friends were playing basketball and I was hanging out with them everyday so I started playing,” Dort said in 2019 after his pre-draft workout for the Pacers. “I felt like I was getting better and then I started loving it and stuck to it.
“From Montreal, Canada — there’s not a lot of guys who make it (to the NBA) from there. Just hearing my name, shaking the commissioner’s hand. It’s going to be unreal.”
Dort went undrafted and spent part of his rookie season in the G League with the Oklahoma City Blue whereas Mathurin, who attended the Latin American NBA Academy as a teenager and then played two years at the University of Arizona, was a lottery pick that came off the bench for most of this season.
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