As reported on jsonline.com, written by Mark Stewart
Kevon Looney believes in Milwaukee.
The former Milwaukee Hamilton star and current NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors reps for his hometown whenever he gets the chance. He talks about the talent and untapped potential here. Behind the scenes, he has helped make things happen with the Running Rebels Community Organization, a group that helped nurture him growing up.
Friday, he was up front and center as the guest of honor during the Pause 4 Peace rally at the Northside YMCA. The event was part a rally for non-violence and part homecoming celebration for Looney, who enjoyed a breakout season in helping Golden State win its third championship in four years.
The event gave fans and kids the chance to rub elbows with the former McDonald’s All-American and get a close-up look of the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. The day gave Looney a chance to get a point across just as the summer starts to heat up.
“Everything is possible,” he said. “Don’t short-change yourself by doing something stupid and succumbing to violence.”
Looney enjoyed the event at the start of a pivotal point of his career. NBA free agency officially begins at 11 p.m. Saturday and the 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward is one of a number of players in the league seeking new contracts and maybe new teams.
The cloud of free agency has hung over Looney for months. After being injured for most of his rookie season and splitting time in the G League in his second, the Warriors declined to pick up its option for a fourth year of Looney’s rookie deal.
That was back in October. Since then Looney put together his best season, working his way into the rotation to the point that he started nine games for the Warriors – four regular season, five playoffs – and appeared in every postseason game.
“Coach (Steve Kerr) came to me and talked to me about being a professional in the NBA,” Looney said. “It’s a funny league. Always stay ready because somebody is going to get hurt. That is just how the NBA works. … My opportunity came and I took advantage of the moment.”
Looney averaged four points and 3.3 rebounds per game for Golden State for the season, and 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs.
Thirty pounds lighter from the previous season, he was able to match-up with bigger players and then switch to guards if necessary, an element of versatility he didn’t have previously.
Looney proved to be a good fit with a Warriors team that offers plenty of offense and star power.
“Everywhere we go we’ve got fans waiting outside the lobby,” he said. “Every road game the fans line up just to watch Steph Curry warm up. It’s a crazy feeling. Every game is a packed house. Every player we play against is getting up to play us. It’s like traveling with rock stars, really. KD (Kevin Durant), Steph, Draymond (Green) and Klay (Thompson), they’re all superstars in their own right.”
Friday, Looney was the star of the show. He’s come a long way.
The guy who played for the Rebels now sponsors a team and helped the organization get its new gym built. The player who spent his childhood playing in parks and gyms all over the city plans to watch when he goes to the park on this visit.
And the player whose ability to handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter while in high school drew comparisons to Kevin Durant, will probably earn his next deal thanks to his ability to rebound and defend.
“Last year I didn’t have the opportunity to bring the trophy back and this year I made sure I had the opportunity to do that to show the kids that I’m from here and anything is possible,” Looney said.
“Growing up I dreamed of being in the NBA, but I don’t think I dreamed of being a two-time champion. We’re talking to the kids about hard work and trying to pursue your dreams because anything is possible.”
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