TRAVIS Leslie left his mother, Virginia, in tears when he embarked on the longest trip of his life.
But he was determined to further his career at the Kings after being impressed by Kings coach Andrew Gaze, who spent three weeks as an assistant coach with Indiana Pacers at the Orlando NBA Summer League in July.
After his 19-hour flight from Atlanta, Leslie, 27, could have been forgiven for taking his first session easy.
However, despite his tiredness, there was also a determination and energy to make the most of his opportunity and repay the faith of Gaze.
He also impressed his new teammates with his dunking skills.
“Playing for Andrew is the reason I came here,” Leslie told The Daily Telegraph.
“It is an honour. He is a legend here and for him to recognise me is pretty cool.
“He wanted me to come here and help this team win and that’s pretty big. He is also a great coach.’’
Leslie boasts a quality resume, though one destructive dunk stands out.
The year was 2010 and Leslie was playing for Georgia University when he produced an acrobatic runaway dunk for the ages on future NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, who was playing for Kentucky.
He is now seven years older, but the experienced guard has vowed to wow Sydney fans with similar exploits this season.
“Oh yeah, I’ve still got a lot left in me,” Leslie said.
“I’ll bring whatever I’ve got to the table because I’ve been doing it all my life.
“I’m very athletic and I can rebound with the best, but I just want to bring whatever I can to this team to help us win.”
In 2014 and 2015, Leslie was crowned the Lithuanian league’s slam dunk champion and could become one of the most accomplished in-game dunkers in NBL history.
Gaze has no doubt Leslie can make a powerful impact.
“He is a great athlete and it’s about fitting in and trying to find the right way to exploit his skills,” Gaze said.
“The great thing about him from my time in Indiana was the fact he was real low maintenance.
“If you asked him to do something, he’d do it without fuss.’’
The 193cm, 93kg guard will form an imposing back-court alongside Australian Boomers duo Kevin Lisch and Jason Cadee.
Source: sports dailytelegraph