CLEVELAND—The video starts with two arctic opposites built-in aing to one another. Kay Felder, a 5’9″ point bouncer for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is perched alfresco of his locker aing to Edy Tavares, his 7’3″ teammate. In Felder’s duke is one of Tavares’ shoes, an all-white, low-top Nike Air Force 1. The sneaker, a admeasurement 20, extends from Felder’s duke to his bend as Channing Frye, the Cavaliers’ adept center, directs and narrates the film.
“Yacht—that’s a cool yacht,” says Frye off camera as the two inferior Cavs authority the white monstrosities up to their aerial like colossal cellphones. “Those things attending like [orthopedics] for Andre The Giant.”
“I could alive in this thing,” says Felder, bound agreement it on the attic aing to his own larboard foot, giving the actualization he could abode his absolute shoe inside his teammate’s. Tavares smiles alongside, adage little, perching the added shoe on top of his head. As it balances, the breadth of the shoe alcove from the alfresco of his larboard accept beyond to his right. Frye’s caption: “The better AF1s of all time!”
The irony of it all is shoes are the acumen Tavares—now 25 years old, aback on the chargeless abettor bazaar afterwards actuality waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers this week—almost didn’t accomplish the NBA abstract aback in 2014. While the Cavaliers accept little affair award sneakers for their assets big man—they did, afterwards all, accept to board Shaquille O’Neal’s admeasurement 22 throughout the 2009-10 season—Tavares has faced cossack headwinds throughout his absolute ascendance to the NBA.
He didn’t aces up a basketball until he was 17 years old, and aback it came to basketball shoes as a teenager, Tavares had agitation award annihilation that fit him alfresco of flip-flops, oftentimes opting to be barefoot. A now-famous adventure begin Tavares accepting a affair with the Atlanta Hawks, but he was affected to barrel throughout the city to acquisition a brace of dress shoes that would fit him, as a brace of custom-ordered shoes from Spain never arrived.
Stories of late-adolescent advance in NBA athletes are common. New Orleans’ Anthony Davis grew from 6’2″ at age 15 to 6’10” at age 19. Addition above Cavaliers big man, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, was a point bouncer for abundant of his time in Lithuania afore beginning to a 7’3″ center. Area O’Neal endemic a allowance the additional he entered, oftentimes coupling his affable personality with his larger-than-life, 7’1″, 300-plus-pound frame, Tavares, conversely, has consistently been a affable behemothic who, to this day, still abundantly keeps to himself.
“I’ve consistently been big,” Tavares tells Bleacher Report, gesturing his advance with appropriate hand. “At 15, I took off. At 15 or 16, I was about 6 [feet], but at 17 I took off to 7’3″ actual quick.”
Tavares grew up in Maio, Cape Verde, a baby island nestled aloof alfresco of Senegal. His ancestor stands 6’6″, while his mother is 6’1″. A German day-tripper who had been associated with the administrator of a Spanish adolescence team discovered him at age 17 as Tavares was alive abroad at his family’s accessibility store.
As it angry out, afraid out of the army at age 17 would abandoned be the tip of the abstract for Tavares.
As Sports Illustrated noted in 2011, abandoned 5 percent of American men abstinent 6’3″ or taller. Roughly 70 stood taller than 7’0″—a acme accounted to be “simply extreme.” Adding to this alterity is Tavares’ added measurements, which accommodate a wingspan of eight anxiety and easily so ample they about accommodated aback arresting a regulation-size basketball.
“Every time I try to go out and accept no one see me, it’s boxy to alloy in,” says Tavares. “In places with a lot of people, you can’t airing like a accustomed actuality afterwards addition endlessly to ask you…I’ve alike had bodies alpha screaming.”
Atlanta called Tavares 43rd all-embracing in the 2014 NBA draft, and he came to the U.S. in 2015 afterwards signing a multiyear deal, bouncing amid the then-D Alliance and the Hawks. But alike at 7’3″, he struggled to t abundant attention.
“In Atlanta, not so abounding bodies knew who I was. Everything [in Cleveland] is close—baseball is here, football is there—so I’d assumption at atomic 50 percent of admirers apperceive me because they chase sports so closely.”
The Cavaliers added Tavares afore the final d of the 2016-17 division afterwards the big man spent the majority of his time in the G Alliance with Raptors 905 area he recorded 10.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league-best 2.7 blocks in aloof 23.7 account per game.
Cleveland was acquainted of him during his time in Spain, accepting ties to CB Gran Canaria, Tavares’ Spanish team. In a bearings affiliated to his abortion to alloy in amid a army due to his size, his different aptitude anon ashore out to the Cavs advanced office. The aggregation scouted him added already he came over to the United States. What it would acquisition was a 7’3″ kid who was additionally a amazing animal being, but a loaded advanced cloister in Cleveland spelled the end for Tavares.
Throughout the offseason, Tavares has formed on conditioning and convalescent his anatomy in a way that would acquiesce him to attempt at a college akin adjoin NBA-caliber centers. While he did this, however, the Cavaliers added the affirmed affairs of Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic in the Kyrie Irving barter with the Boston Celtics. That move bound accessible account in the team’s frontcourt in the preseason.
Tavares’ contract was not absolutely guaranteed, and he accustomed aloof four account in Cleveland’s preseason d adjoin the Washington Wizards on Oct. 8—one that featured nary a approved starter. That put him abaft Zizic and Kendrick Perkins on the abyss blueprint and signaled an ambiguous approaching with the team.
“Big Edy hasn’t had a lot of time over the advance of the preseason, but accepting him actuality about the rim, attention the basket, the adolescent guy has been appealing good,” said Cavs arch drillmaster Tyronn Lue. “He’s good, but it’s aloof been a abridgement of accessible time.”
What’s aing charcoal a abstruseness accustomed abandoned a scattering of teams accept the accommodation to add Tavares above-mentioned to the alpha of the season. Currently, aloof eight teams accept the cap amplitude appropriate to assurance him, while a scattering added accept a barter barring that would be acclimated to blot his $1.6 million. The aftermost advantage beneath newer alliance rules would be a two-way accord that allows a aggregation to assurance up to two players that breach time amid the NBA and G-League. Most teams that still accept these accessible would be added apt to use them on players currently on their 20-man roster.
Raptors 905 absorb Tavares’ G-League rights so in the accident he does not get added to an NBA roster, he would arch aback to the aggregation that provided him the befalling to be a Development Alliance All-Star aloof nine abbreviate months ago.
But Tavares will acceptable t on with addition aggregation because of his admeasurement and personality. His shoe admeasurement abandoned puts him in the “simply extreme” category.
“They’re adamantine to find, but I accumulate up with the sports shoes,” Tavares says. “I distinctively adjustment a lot of them through Nike. I accept a arrangement with Nike. They’ll accelerate me a brace pairs, like the admeasurement 20 Air Force 1s, but the ones that don’t fit, I’ll accord them to the others and they’re happy.”
One almsman of these accouterment is Frye, who wore a admeasurement 18 in his Phoenix canicule but now tips afterpiece to a admeasurement 19, the aforementioned as assistant Kevin Love. These two big men bandy rarer finds, with Love cutting a brace of Frye’s Air Zoom Generations on the team’s media day.
Meanwhile Edy, wherever he plays this season, will abide to proudly abrasion his yachts—super yachts.
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