Throughout his 11-year NBA career, Randy Livingston has performed in front of millions of people. But it wasn’t until he found himself in front of two hundred festival-goers in Hobart, Tasmania, demonstrating how to prepare New Orleans-style charbroiled oysters that he really felt scared.
It was an odd place to find the New Orleans native and basketball legend, but then again, love will take you many places, Livingston says, referring to his Australian significant other. The two met at the Salt Lake City Airport in 2013 while he was coaching in the NBA’s Developmental League and she was on her way to the Sundance Film Festival.
“It was just meant to be,” Livingston says, and on the day after Christmas in 2013, they moved to Hobart where they’d spend the next four years. It was during this time that Livingston began a basketball scouting service.
And there has been a lot of talent to scout. Basketball is exploding in Australia, and the country is sending over an ever-increasing number of players. There are 300 Aussies playing college basketball here, and another twenty are playing professionally. Ben Simmons, who played one season at LSU and is now the odds on favorite to win rookie of the year honors for the Philadelphia 76ers, is from Melbourne, while other Australians like San Antonio’s Patty Mills, Milwaukee’s Mathew Delavadova and Utah’s Dante Exum are also making names for themselves in the NBA.
One reason may be in the genes. After a couple decades of importing American players to Australian professional leagues, some of those Americans ended up putting down roots and starting families there. “Now their kids are coming to fruition,” says Livingston, citing Ben Simmons and Utah’s Exum as such examples.
There has also been a significant wave of Sudanese immigrants to Australia, he says, and some of them have made the jump to America, such as Milwaukee’s Thon Maker (who briefly attended Metairie Park Country Day). “So it’s been a breeding ground for basketball.”
A top-down developmental system that Livingston says may be better than what we have in America is also responsible for churning out players. The best young talent train at what’s called the Centre of Excellence. “It’s basically a basketball academy,” he says. “Kids are learning the fundamentals, they’re working on their bodies, they’re learning nutrition. They still go to school, but for the most part, every day, they’re working on the fundamentals of basketball.
Now back in Louisiana, Livingston sees himself in the basketball world for another ten years or so, ideally working in a team’s front office. But he says he’s not putting himself in a box, either. “I enjoy exploring and learning new things all the time.”
He has branched out into the arts, executive producing a documentary in partnership with Tasmania’s renown Museum of Old and New Art that shines a light on the scourge of gun violence in the urban communities in America. The project, nearing completion, has also led to an actual gun buyback.
He may also want to think about a future as a chef – the charbroiled oysters from the demonstration in Tasmania ended up selling out.