Growing Up ... Cedi Osman

Wine & Gold's Rookie Swingman Looks Back on His Early Hoop Dreams in Turkey
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Growing Up ... Cedi Osman

Wine & Gold's Rookie Swingman Looks Back on His Early Hoop Dreams in Turkey

One of the odd things about writing a Growing Up … feature for Cedi Osman is that the young swingman is still in the process of doing so.

Only 22 years old – but with the youthful, wide-eyed look of a freshman on his first day on campus – Osman has provided an infusion of energy this year for a Wine & Gold squad that ranks as the league’s oldest.

Osman was selected with the 31st overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft by Minnesota before his rights were immediately dealt to the Cavaliers. After playing two successful seasons between the Turkish BSL and Euroleague, Osman signed with the Wine & Gold this past summer.

The 6-8, 215-pounder, originally from Ohrid, Macedonia, averaged 13.2 points and 3.7 boards per game in his final season in Europe and was very impressive with the Turkish team in EuroBasket 2017 – including an epic duel against Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis in which Osman went for 24 points, six boards and five assists.

Osman played sparingly to start the season – getting DNP-CDs in seven of Cleveland’s first 15 games – but he’s been part of the team’s outstanding second unit ever since, notching season-highs in minutes (22) and points (10, 4-6FG) in the Cavaliers’ December 16 win over Utah at The Q.

In today’s installment of Growing Up …, the athletic rookie swingman took a moment to discuss his upbringing in Macedonia, competing with his older brother and, of course, his first dunk …

After a slow start to this first season, Cavaliers rookie Cedi Osman has been a staple of Tyronn Lue's rotation.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

My family is athletic … but we mostly play basketball. My brother used to play and my mom and dad played too.

The way I actually started playing basketball … began when I’d come home from school. I'd finish my homework and then I had a whole day to do nothing.

So, I always had this … big box, and I'd throw (balled-up) socks inside of it. That was my favorite sport ever when I was a kid.

I really had a ton of energy … as a little kid, and at that time, my brother – who’s four years older – was already playing basketball.

So, my parents just decided … to let me go and play basketball -- just to have fun, to run around and basically to spend all my energy on the court and get me tired out for bedtime. That's how I started to play basketball.

When my family moved to Turkey … the team liked both of us.

I was younger than 18, but my brother … had some problems about getting a license to play. So, he couldn't play for two years and that was a really tough time for him.

That was also … tough for me, because I was playing and, at that time, he was not. He was getting down about it.

It wasn’t easy … but he finally got his license after two years. He started to play, but then the coaches didn't play him and he just decided to stop playing basketball and be a coach.

My brother and I … didn't play, like, in organized games against each other. But sometimes we'll play one-on-one and it will always be a big battle between the two of us because both of us HATES to lose.

Whenever we play … we always fight – especially if I lost! I would take the ball and try to hit him with it, because after the game he'll be like: "Hey man, I'm better than you!"

I always played basketball as a main sport, but … of course, I liked to play volleyball and football (soccer).

"I remember that after the first one, I was dunking every second!"

Cedi Osman reflects on his first dunk

In soccer … I wasn’t that good. But in volleyball, I was OK. I just loved playing, especially on the beach. That was really fun!

I wasn’t a tall … kid growing up. And then there was maybe a couple months -- four or five months -- where I grew around eight centimeters or something. It was really weird.

I was always hoping to be … around 6-9 and playing forward. That was my goal. But I stopped at 6-8, I think, and I'm good with that.

In Europe … practices are not like they are here.

Here in Cleveland, for example … when we have practice at 11 a.m., I'm here at 9 a.m. because coaches text me, like: 'Cedi, you have weight room at 9:15, then some work on the floor, then practice and then after practice again some shooting and stuff and floor-work.’

In Europe … because we’d have younger teams in the same gym -- Under-18, Under-16, etc. – we didn't have that much time to work like we do here.

But I was always … a hard worker and there was, of course, always coaches there to help me with my game.

Of course, I remember … my first dunk. It was actually in a practice gym.

I think I was either 14 or 15 … and I remember that after the first one, I was dunking every second! Every second!

No lay-ups, no shots … just dunking all the time.

The coaches would be like … ‘OK, man! You're gonna have plenty of chances to dunk in the game. So take it easy right now.’

And I was like …’No, I cannot!’