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Larry Nance Jr. is fresh off an impressive performance in the Slam Dunk Contest and now faces a new challenge as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Trying to convince my mom that I’m not living at home,” he said from Cleveland Clinic Courts on Wednesday, when the Cavs returned to practice.
The 6-foot-10 big man is one of four new members who will be making their home debuts Thursday vs. the Washington Wizards (8 p.m., TNT). He was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 8 (along with Jordan Clarkson), but has yet to play in front of the home crowd. Point guard George Hill and swingman Rodney Hood are also new to the team.
But Nance is the only one from nearby Akron — or to be more specific Bath, where he played for Revere High School.
He attended college at the University of Wyoming, got drafted by the Lakers, and is now home in every sense of the word. Nance’s father, of course, is Cavs legend Larry Nance. Younger brother Pete Nance currently plays at Revere.
And while the Nances have always been a tight-knight family, Junior apparently could use a little space. But mothers always enjoy the idea of keeping their children within reach of a hug as much as possible.
“We’re out looking for rental properties and stuff like that and she’s like, ‘Oh, our basement is pretty nice,'” Nance Jr. said, smiling. “That’s probably been the toughest thing.”
This is coming from a man, mind you, who finished second in the dunk contest Saturday. A lot of observers thought he deserved first. But for Nance Jr., none of that really matters. It’s always been about the team.
Things are going well with the team, too.
The Cavs (34-22) have won four straight overall, three straight since making the deadline-day trades and two straight with the new group in uniform. Nance Jr. has played an important role, particularly in the last game before the All-Star break — displaying strength, athleticism, selflessness and a strong desire to win vs. Oklahoma City.
All are traits he unquestionably learned during his humble upbringing, spearheaded by his parents. But like most 25-year-olds with a nice job, he is looking to make his own way in the world.
That said, it’s quite evident Nance is elated to be back near his family and his biggest fans.
“I’m so excited. Even when I was with the Lakers, every year I looked forward to coming back here and getting to play under my dad’s jersey, in front of my family and stuff like that,” he said. “Tomorrow getting to do that for the first time of hopefully many, many times will be really exciting.”