Who is Kiwi Gardner?
The answer to the question, Who is Kiwi Gardner, is an answer I found myself searching for back in January 2015 at the NBA D-League Showcase in Santa Cruz, CA.
I had never heard of the Youtube sensation, nor had I ever heard about Kiwi's dominating performances in high school in Arizona or California.
My first glimpse of Kiwi was in the warm up line prior to the Santa Cruz Warriors first game at the Showcase. He was dancing in the line, rapping, showing a little flash on layups but most of all, he looked like he was having more fun than anyone on the court and this was pregame.
I don't remember his exact stats from that game, but I do recall the loud ovation he got from the home town crowd and the energy he brought to the game.
This wasn't new though as I did my own research to find out who Kiwi Gardner is and was.
He is a guy who got his D-League shot via the open tryouts that so many teams now hold in hopes of finding a hidden gem talent wise.
He is a guy who at the time of his NBA D-League opportunity may of been knocking on the door of his final chance to make something of his dream to play pro basketball.
He is a guy who has the measurables of a soccer player, but who certainly has a place on the hard court.
He is a guy that is easily likeable and most times is far from easy to guard.
Kiwi Gardner is a story of hope for many others who may be on their last hope of furthering their professional basketball dreams. His energy, his enthusiasm accompanied with his willingness now more than ever to do things the right way has allowed him to stick on a NBA D-League roster more so than he was able to do back in his college days.
His teammates speak of it, his coaches speak of it and it shows with the admiration the Warriors fan base provides to him on the court.
Will Kiwi Gardner ever get that opportunity to play in the NBA? I don't have the answer for that, but he has played in the NBA Summer Leagues, he has now played in two NBA D-League seasons and he continues to improve, so all of that certainly can't hurt his case.
** YOU CAN EMAIL JEFF THURN AT JT@ESPN991.COM AND FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @JTESPN991.