If you’re an NBA 2K23 gamer, you’ll have noticed there is a new player on the Pelicans roster and he hails from my hometown Bendigo in Central Victoria.
Australian basketballer Dyson Daniels is the latest star to be drafted into the NBA. The 19 year old went at No. 8 to the New Orleans Pelicans and his four-year contract is rumoured to be around $US25M with $US5.5M earned in his rookie season for 2022-23.
Of course, behind every successful athlete is a parent (or two in this case). Proud mum Brikitta Kool-Daniels, with her husband Ricky Daniels, have helped Dyson realise his dream of playing in the NBA.
Basketball talent runs in the family with eldest son Kai playing college basketball for Regis University and youngest son Dash recently named among Australia’s top 20 under 16 hoopers.
All three boys have played representative basketball which translates into many hours spent training and traveling. That in itself sounds like a full time job but somehow Brikitta and Ricky have managed to successfully run Bendigo’s best gym, D-Club, for over 20 years.
If you’d like to hear more about Brikitta’s business journey skip back to episode 5.
So what does it take for a kid in country Victoria to play ball on the biggest stage in the world?
In this exclusive interview, Brikitta shares with us her family's basketball journey and the whirlwind experience of the NBA draft. We talk about the media attention, the sacrifices, that big NBA contract, managing the expectations on younger son Dash, taking time out of the business, and going viral all thanks to a stunning white dress. Plus Brikitta shares with us an exclusive announcement in regards to Dyson.
Meet my very good friend Brikitta, mum of Australia’s newest NBA star.
Here are a few snippets of Brikitta from the podcast.
I was talking to your husband about your son being chosen for something, and then the shock of the finances. And that’s a real game changer for a lot of families because it's not that it's so expensive, but it's well and truly up there in what you've got to do.
We certainly were not in a financial position for that either, but we just found a way – we just knew it was important. All the kids showed talent to be selected, and you make sacrifices for this to happen.
Financials are a sticking point where a lot of families have to say, ‘No, we can't do it’. We were lucky to have our own business, meaning that I could make a flexible roster to let us go.
My nature is probably a little bit on the selfish side, but the selfish has grown from knowing what's best for me and everybody in the family.
All these events and training, I'm not sitting and watching. I will have packed my clothes, my runners, my bag, my bike, to look after my mental and physical health. Dad's different. He loved watching all of that. I didn't enjoy watching it so much but probably because I knew what had to be in place for everything to go well in our own business and life.
“This (the contract) frightens me more than anything from so many angles in that it doesn’t change the person he is because if there was one common thread throughout this whole journey, people loved Dyson, not the basketball.
They really loved Dyson the person because he is really a great kid in every way.
And it does frighten me when this huge amount of money comes in. It would be silly to think that he wouldn't change a bit when you've got that much coming to you, because of the world he's gone into, there is an expectation or you have to live up to certain ways, whether in fashion, where you're going, what you're doing.
We’ve had countless Zoom calls and meetings with the people who know this world so well, about protecting him and his finances and the sharks that will try and come in his world to market, to promise, to grab, all of that – and probably too much to be quite honest.
If Dyson says, ‘Hey, I want that amount of money and I wanna spend it on that.’, they have to give it to him. They can give him a bit of advice but it's his decision.
While I think it's so unnecessary to be wearing a $500 bucket hat... I suppose $500 in the scheme of Dyson's life in the future is like 10 cents. And I will never probably understand that.
It’s going to be a different world that as a family, we're going to have to learn to keep him grounded. But I don't want to be this stifling mum that's keeping him grounded in a way that's not realistic to the world he's living in.
With Dash, it's a different journey again. We now are not the unknowns – just being parents going to tournaments and everything like that. Dyson has brought media attention to his younger brother.
At local basketball games we’re having to navigate young kids coming up asking for Dash's autograph. That's something we never had to consider with Dyson at all. I have to figure out how to navigate this for Dash so it doesn't ruin him getting to where his dreams are.
I think we're all worried because of the stories we've heard in Hollywood or movies or whatever, that when it all comes too easy you may stop working hard.
As parents, we’ll try and bring Dash through it. I just want him to be 14, play junior basketball, and earn the selections for the next stages.