Los Angeles Lakers

Helicopter rides and vineyards: How Kyle Kuzma fell in love with Australian wines in Melbourne


On his recent visit to Australia in August as part of Team USA's squad ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Kyle Kuzma soaked up the local atmosphere in style.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward took the opportunity to explore Melbourne's fashion, architecture and basketball community, but most importantly, checking out some famous Australian wines in the Yarra Valley, just outside the city.

"This has been a great day, a very eventful day, going to the great Australian vineyards," Kuzma told CloseUp360. "This is my first time really experiencing Australian wine and sitting with the guys and really just talking about life, talking about business, talking about everything. It's been a great day.

"The helicopter was amazing. This was my first time ever being on a helicopter and going from the city out to the vineyards, and this area has been phenomenal. It's definitely a different type of view than a plane and whatnot. You really get to appreciate the landscape of different areas."

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The 24-year-old, like many NBA players has taken to the world of wine and he has a former Aussie teammate to thank for his newfound passion.

"You know, it's funny that we're in Australia right now. I think the No. 1 reason why I got into wine was Andrew Bogut, fellow Australian. One of our first trips when I was a rookie with the Lakers, and he was with us, he had me taste some Caymus wine. And ever since then, I've really been on wine."

Watch the full interview here, via: CloseUp360.

As over 100,000 fans packed into Marvel Stadium across Team USA's two exhibition games against the Australian Boomers, Kuzma got to see first-hand just how big basketball has become Down Under.

"I didn't know the basketball community was so crazy out here. I think that going to the game, obviously having 50,000-plus fans, that kind of tells you how important basketball is here," Kuzma added.

"And then also, just the cultural [aspect]. Melbourne has been a super liberal place, a place where coffee is big time. I love coffee. I love coffee more now since being here. It's a little bit different taste - for me, at least. But it's always fun seeing different cultures and really just embracing it."

You can't walk around downtown Melbourne without seeing a coffee shop at every turn, with the flurry of laneways serving up hidden gems to make any coffee connoisseur stop to taste the local brew.

Come for the wines, stay for the coffee.

"I think the biggest thing on my mind is obviously the coffee. I think that's the biggest thing. I've had coffee every single night since I've been here, every morning, kind of got me through my jet lag and whatnot. But definitely the coffee. It's been phenomenal."

For more in-depth player profiles, follow CloseUp360 on Twitter.

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