THE move to the Lakeside Lightning has brought out the best again in Kyle Armour but now as a 200-game SBL player who made his debut 14 years ago, he has plenty to reflect upon and be thankful for including a history with Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles and Kyrie Irving.
Armour still recalls growing up watching the old NBL Rebound video and looking in admiration at the likes of Ricky Grace, Alan Black, Mike Ellis, Marty Clarke, Scott Fisher, Shawn Dennis, Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal he watched.
He still shakes his head knowing the fact that he’s now had a history with each one of those men during his basketball career but he’s also shared the court with some men that he’ll never forget including NBA superstars like Mills, Dellavedova, Ingles and Irving.
Armour has remarkable stories to share on each of them, but his career has been about a lot more than just the people he’s come across.
He has had to overcome the disappointments of being the last player cut from an Australian Emus team, having his NBL career cut short at both the Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings, and even prior to that being recruited over the top of in his college career.
LAKESIDE MOVE ALL ABOUT ENJOYMENT FOR ARMOUR
But his is a great success story. Armour is an SBL championship winner at the East Perth Eagles in 2014 and he’s now been able to put together an outstanding career whether that’s his 210 games in the state league or what he’s accomplished across the country, and on trips abroad.
That’s why Armour is dedicated to giving back to the next generation too through his Basketball Skills with Kyle Armour business where not only can he help youngsters develop on the court, but through his own experiences he can become a mentor like few others can.
“I coach skills but the real value that I add is probably around mentoring and telling my stories, and relating that to the kids,” Armour said.
“That’s why I don’t really advertise what I do with coaching the kids, it comes through word of mouth but it’s something that I’m pretty passionate about and to wake up at 5am so you can coach kids at 6am before work means you have to be passionate about it.
“It’s a pretty taxing commitment but it’s something that there is value in when you see a kid make a WABL team or a state team or they go to college or they get to play in the SBL, and you’ve played a small part in that.
“I just try to offer a bit of guidance along the way and tell my story, and related it to them and that’s something that is a bit of a hidden passion of mine but it’s something that is important to me. I’ve had a lot of people put me under their wing and help me along the way so it’s one of those things I try to do to give back now and help the next generation.”
That doesn’t mean his own career isn’t still a focus too. Armour has joined Lakeside this season having spent the past four seasons at Willetton where under coaches Alan and Stephen Black, they went tantalisingly close to at least qualifying for a Grand Final.
But the move to the Lightning is seeing Armour deliver some scintillating basketball where he’s putting up 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in a team that has an 8-3 record where he’s thriving alongside Jack Isenbarger, Jarrad Prue, Jobi Wall, Rowan Mackenzie and company.
What makes the Armour story such an inspirational one and what continues to drive him on even today is that natural competitiveness to be the best that he can be, and to continue to prove any doubters wrong.
He thinks that started in the backyard when he was growing up and has never really left him.
“I don’t know if it stems back to growing up and being bullied in my backyard by my older brother Trav or what it is, but I’ve always been a pretty small and feisty guy who is really competitive and aggressive in that way,” Armour said.
“I’ve always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder to prove someone wrong or try to be better than I am and that’s probably just my competitive desire to try and be better. Most people wouldn’t know and a lot of the kids that I coach and mentor now wouldn’t know, but I’ve been cut by more teams than I’ve probably made.
“I got cut from my first state team and the Australian junior team I got cut from which was hard to take because at the time I was on top of the world at the AIS and playing pretty well. I was cut by my college team which was hard because they continually recruit over you and that was tough to swallow. Not a lot of people know about that.
“Then I ended up being cut in the NBL by the Wildcats and Sydney after I broke my ankle. I’ve been cut by a lot of teams but it’s like anything, it all comes down to your work ethic and trying to outwork the guy next to you and what you put in, is what get out of it. The thing I can hold my head high about is that in everything I’ve attempted, I’ve given it my everything.
“I can talk about it now proudly knowing I had some awesome experiences despite the disappointments at the time. Because each time I learnt from it or another door opened up. After I got cut from that junior Australian team when I was at the AIS, I made it right to the end with that Emus team but was the last player cut.
“But being cut from that team meant that I made an All-Australia playing for Andrew Gaze in China, so that bittersweet but it opened up another opportunity for me which was an awesome experience.”
Armour’s career is much more than the 210 games he has currently accumulated in the SBL, but for everything his career has provided him, he couldn’t be more proud or grateful.
“When I think about my SBL career, 14 years ago I played my first game but I’ve also played five seasons in the Waratah League, I played a season of SEABL and went away for five years to college, and bounced around different NBL clubs which gave me great experience and exposure,” he said.
“I look back on those 14 years so far with a lot of joy and gratitude. I’m happy that I’ve been healthy enough to play for this long and it’s not so much big scoring big assists games that I remember, it’s winning a championship that stands out so I’m glad I ticked that box.
“But that’s why I play now every year to try and win as many as I can. The real value and what I look back on the most is the amount of relationships and friendships that have added to my network. Those people that I’ll have a lifelong connection with is what I value as much as anything I’ve achieved.”
There are stories to cherish for a lifetime that Armour has racked up too, but the one that perhaps drives him on still to this day is his time at the Australian Institute of Sport where he spent a whole 12 months going up against Patty Mills.
That was before Mills would go on to become a Boomers star and a long-time NBA championship-winning star at the San Antonio Spurs, but he has no doubt it made him better in so many ways.
“I haven’t caught up with Patty for about five years now, but in our time together at the AIS it was a hard one. Patty is amazing, he was just so super talented and people see him now and what he’s done in the NBA, but he was just so talented and always destined for that stage,” Armour said.
“It’s weird when you are playing against someone but you equally look up to them and their work ethic, and how they go about their business. I’m not in contact with Patty or Delly or some of those guys I played with, but when I see them we pick up where we left off.
“For every single day when I was at the AIS, I basically was there just to chase Patty’s tail around and to push him to get better. He was lightning quick and it was all about having some grunt to try to match him in areas or to take away his first move, but Patty always had an answer.
“But for 12 months straight, we would go head-to-head and really clash, which is the environment at the AIS and that’s how they speed up the development of players, and why they’ve had a pretty high success rate with a lot of guys reaching the NBA.”
Armour’s time at the AIS also saw him spend some time going up against another Boomers and NBA star, the Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles.
“This is probably a story Joe might not like me telling, but it was after his NBL season with the Dragons and he came back to the AIS and we would play one-on-one. I got the better of him in a few of the games and he would spit the dummy and kick the bin,” he said.
“Then I remember he wouldn’t talk to me for four months after that. But Joey is another guy who has just continued to get better and better, and it’s great to see him making the noise that he is on the world stage which is good to watch.”
Then there was also the time in New York where Armour was somewhat shown up by Kyrie Irving, but that’s something that when he looks back on it, he can deal with.
“When I was 18 or 19, I went over to New York to visit different schools to choose a college that I was going to commit to and I actually did a camp called ‘Hoop Group Elite’ and was fortunate to make the All-Star Game at the end of the week,” Armour said.
“That meant playing against Kyrie which was pretty incredible when you look at what he’s achieved now. He was three years younger than me but he was just such a star already. I remember getting schooled by him and crossed up by him, and getting all mad about that.
“But I look back now and think it’s pretty awesome that I shared a court with someone like that. I was stoked to get crossed up by Kyrie now that I look back on it, even if it wasn’t fun at the time.
“That competitor in you doesn’t like it at the time, but when I look back I feel stoked that it happened and that I was on the floor with one of the best players in the world.”
Armour has no doubt that everything he has gone through and learned from basketball has held him in good stead to establish himself in life and business away from the game as well.
That’s why he is such a well-rounded and grounded individual who wants to be the best in everything he does, while also helping whoever he can along the way.
“The real value I’ve got from basketball is the way it’s also helped me in my life away from basketball, and got me ready for life after basketball,” he said.
“It has led pretty much to all the jobs I’ve had and I think it will continue to play that role in relation to the network and relationships you build up. Basketball for me when I look at it, it’s just a platform for whatever is next and whatever else I’m doing in my life.
“It’s given me a platform I might have not had otherwise and that’s something I’ll be forever grateful for. It’s a game that I love and adore, it brings my family and mates together, I’ve built new friendships and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”
Whether it’s in his business life, personal life or basketball, Armour couldn’t be in a better place right now and it’s nothing but his own hard work and dedication in each area that allows that to happen.
He is in a great place at the moment and while everything is working out so well on and off the court, he sees no reason why can’t continue it all and certainly in terms of basketball, there’s no end in sight for his SBL career
“In terms of the future, physically I feel fine but it is a big commitment to play in the SBL especially when your career continues to develop and takes up more and more of your focus,” Armour said.
“For me I don’t really take an off-season because that’s the time I feel like I can get an edge on some other guys so it’s a 12-month commitment. Even though I’m a bit older now and my priorities have changed a little bit, I have enough of an ego and am too proud to let myself not give everything that I have to give.
“When I retire is when I can’t offer my everything and the high-level commitment to be willing to put in the work. I don’t see that happening any time soon but you just never know.
“I’m just thankful to be healthy and able to continue to play, and seeing how this season pans out with Lakeside. I have felt rejuvenated coming here and almost feel lighter and fitter, and still feel like I’m 20 even though I’m 30 now.”