Kyle Korver is adjusting to life as both an NBA player and a father. Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBA/Getty Images
Korver embracing role as new dad
By Jon Cooper
Kyle Korver has been one of the NBA's best pure shooters since entering the league in 2003. He's also been one of its most durable.
To do both requires a lot to go right, including good timing and good health.
Ironically, on Dec. 5, for probably the first time in his career, the 31-year-old forward, in his 10th NBA season, was appreciative of not being healthy.
A back injury, suffered on Nov. 28, had put him on the injured list and thus, made his decision on where to be that Wednesday night — the same night the Hawks battled and eventually beat the Denver Nuggets at Philips Arena — an easy one. He would be at Piedmont Hospital giving all of his energy and support to his wife, Juliet, as the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Kyra Elyse, to the world.
The game was the penultimate of a five-game, 13-day homestand. Three days later, the Hawks would be in Memphis. The possibility of not being in Atlanta for the once-in-a-lifetime event had entered his mind more than once as the delivery date drew near.
"I was so worried. I've heard stories about guys, their wife goes into labor in the middle of the night, they can't get a flight home, you're on the road, you're scrambling to get there on time," Korver, who has since returned to the lineup, said. "So we felt like we're so blessed, one, to be home and then just how this injury, I was hurt and couldn't travel for a few days. Even though I want to be healthy, it worked out amazingly. We felt like it was kind of a blessing in disguise."
Kyra's arrival was simply a blessing, period, but not one that came quickly or easily. Kyle being there was important, as Juliet would be in labor for almost 30 hours.
While he admittedly was in some pain, he stayed strong in his supporting role.
"My wife thinks I was just having sympathy pains for her and her back was hurting her a good bit, too," he recalled. "It's tiring. When the whole process is over it's emotionally draining, physically draining. I'm the husband. I'm not even the one pushing. But it worked out really well."
Of course, there were plenty of reinforcements once Kyra Elyse arrived, in the form of two sets of very eager grandparents, both of whom got into Atlanta the next day.
"This is the first grandkid on my side and the third on hers," he said. "Everybody was really excited to come. Just to share the moment with your parents is a really cool thing. My parents had wanted to be grandparents for a good long time, so for them to have that opportunity was really special."
Korver is learning just how special being a father is and just how special even the littlest things can be.
"Fatherhood is amazing. You just stare at your baby. You just look at her, and it's the wildest thing," he said. "I'm trying to figure out how to get a little more sleep when I'm at home, but it's a really special thing."
He's changed his perspective on life and what's important.
"Life is smaller because you're so focused on your family all of a sudden, but it's bigger because there's so much more meaning," he said. "It's smaller, but it's bigger. Anyone who's become a father, a parent, it's a life-changing thing."
There are sacrifices that need to be made, lack of sleep among them, but Kyle is eager to do whatever is needed to help, even if that means answering that cry in the middle of the night.
"You don't mind at all," he said. "If I've got to get up in the middle of the night and do whatever, it's like, 'Yeah. I'll go do it.' My wife is great. On the night before a game she's going to do everything. But the other nights, I'll get up with [Kyra], for sure. I've wanted to be a parent for a long time. It felt like we waited until the right moment. It's very rich."
The experience will only get richer, and Korver is on top of chronicling everything in pictures. He's proving as sure a shot off the court with the camera as he is on it.
"We've got iPhones these days," he said with a laugh. "So I've got like a thousand of them on my phone already. It's good."
Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.
Second photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images