Heat offseason Q&A: Kelly Olynyk from India on Basketball Without Borders, his offseason & more

NBA player Kelly Olynyk of Miami Heat coaches Indian children during a Basketball Without Borders camp in Greater Noida, on the suburbs of New Delhi, India, on Wednesday (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Kelly Olynyk is in a much different place this offseason, literally and figuratively.

The Miami Heat big man is more relaxed with a set schedule now that he has a home after entering last summer as a free agent before signing a four-year, $50 million contract with the Heat. And Olynyk is spending part of his offseason in India, where he is serving as a coach for the NBA Academy India for the league’s Basketball Without Borders Asia. Olynyk has been in India for about a week and will return home this weekend.

We caught up with Olynyk today on a conference call to talk about his experience half way around the world and the rest of his summer.

Q: What has it been like in India?

KO: “The experience has been awesome. You know, any time that you get to experience another culture, another country, it’s great. It’s a life-changing experience. It’s something that you can learn from, grow from and take back to wherever you’re from.”

Q: Have you done any sightseeing?

KO: “We got to see a few different things. We were up to the Taj Mahal, which was an unbelievable sight. And I think it’s something that pictures and words don’t do justice. You’ve got to really see it with your own eyes. It’s that special. And then we drove to Delhi, which is one of the major cities our here in India and then we went to a big temple out here, Akshardham. It’s a place of worship and something that’s really close to the India culture and the way of living, which is pretty cool to be a part of and see it, kind of experience.”

Q: You attended a Basketball Without Borders camp in Mexico City nine years ago as an 18-year-old, what’s it like going from a camper to an instructor?

KO: “It’s pretty cool. It’s almost a nostalgic feeling when you walk in there seeing these kids sitting in the middle of the floor and knowing nine, 10 years ago that was me sitting right there. It’s fun to share that experience with them and help them realize what it means to compete at the highest level. Give them a little bit of opportunity and give them some helpful insight to the game, just try to help them along the way. Hopefully they can continue to progress and get better. Who knows, maybe one day they are doing the same thing for kids in eight or nine years as well.”

Q: What’s this offseason been like compared to last year’s deep playoff run with Celtics?

KO: “It’s definitely different. When you’re playing that deep, it takes a toll on your body and you really don’t have much time. Last year, we were in it kind of until the beginning of June and then it was basically three weeks until free agency, so there wasn’t much downtime at all. This year, obviously, unfortunately, we had a little more down time, but it gives you a little more time to do some more things, experience more things in life and kind of take a mental break from the game and refresh yourself.”

Q: Will this summer be easier mentally being part of team now vs. entering last summer as a free agent?

KO: “Yeah, definitely. Last July was pretty chaotic and a little bit hectic to say the least. To be able to go through the summer without that on your mind and to be able to focus on yourself and improving yourself, helping yourself and in turn help the team next year that’s what it’s all about.”

Q: How does rest of summer shape up for you?

KO: “I’ll hopefully be back in Miami in the near future, before the national team stuff starts (Olynyk will be playing in the World Cup qualifying for the Canadian men’s national team). Get back there, get some more workouts in with the guys there. Kind of set a little schedule up for the summer, get on the same page and then off to the national team in mid to late June and then after that it’s all working out from there.”

Q: What went behind your decision to play for the Canadian national team this summer?

KO: “It’s always a debate people have, guys should play, guys shouldn’t play. I think it’s really to each their own. Some people need more time or more rest. Other guys just want to play basketball. For me I love giving back to my country that raised me and gave me all the opportunities to be where I am today. That’s something that’s really special to me. Anytime I have the opportunity to put on that jersey and fight for my country I’m welcoming that opportunity to step up to the plate.”

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