‘A hundred per cent I do’: Under-siege Giddey backed for Olympics amid investigation storm

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National men’s basketball coach Brian Goorjian says he “100 per cent” wants Josh Giddey to represent Australia at Paris 2024, but has a back-up plan, as the NBA star deals with hostile opposition fans and two separate investigations into allegations of an improper relationship with a teenage girl.

Goorjian has flown to the United States to meet Australia’s NBA-based players and this masthead confirmed he is scheduled to meet Giddey on Friday, December 15 (AEDT), when he will deliver a message of reassurance to the 21-year-old who is being investigated by the Newport Beach Police Department, in southern California, and the NBA.

Josh Giddey was the Boomers’ best player at the World Cup.Credit: Getty Images

Giddey is booed by opposition fans each time he steps on the court outside Oklahoma City, and is being abused on social media. There are basketball struggles, too. He looks as if he’s playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders, his form taking a dive as teams defend him by daring him to take shots from the outside.

This was the case again as his Oklahoma City Thunder went down 110-101 to the Houston Rockets in Houston on Thursday.

The Australian had eight points, four rebounds and six assists in 24 minutes, and the crowd made it impossible to ignore the allegations that have become a global story sparked by social media images of the pair, and involving a famous lawyer who has represented Donald Trump’s accusers.

Next Friday (AEDT), Giddey will play in California (against the Sacramento Kings in the north of the state) for the first time since an anonymous social media user claimed that a girl depicted in videos and photos with Giddey was as young as 15 at the time. Her age has not been publicly confirmed, and the social media account has been deactivated.

Giddey misses a shot against Houston, whose tactics contributed to his form struggles.Credit: AP

Under California law, the age of consent is 18, but there are defences for closeness in age (if both parties are underage), mistaken age and lack of knowledge within those laws.

Giddey has lived in the US since he was 19.

High-profile US lawyer Gloria Allred is now acting for the girl and her family.

Allred has specialised in women’s rights issues during her 40-year legal career and has represented a number of high-profile clients from the family of Nicole Simpson, the murdered wife of OJ Simpson, to four of the women who accused former US President Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual contact.

Attorney Gloria Allred outside federal court in New York.Credit: AP

Goorjian, who has known the Giddey family for decades, has declared his support for him and told this masthead he wants the playmaker on the Boomers’ team for Paris 2024.

“A hundred per cent I do but like everyone else, I can’t control the [US] legal side,” Goorjian said.

“This team represents the country and it’s an important time for everyone. I have to cover all positions, all players, in case someone is injured or can’t play. In every spot, there is a back-up plan.”

The Australian Olympic Committee declined to comment on whether the police investigation could affect Giddey’s selection prospects.

Under the AOC selection criteria for Paris 2024, athletes picked by a national federation (in this case, Basketball Australia), must meet behavioural standards.

Section K of the criteria says an athlete must not “at any time have engaged in conduct (whether publicly known or not), which i) has brought, brings or would have the tendency to bring the nominated athlete or their sport into disrepute or censure; or ii) is or would have the tendency to be inconsistent with, contrary to or prejudicial to the best interests, reputation or values of the AOC or team sponsors”.

Sections L and M state that an athlete must not be charged or convicted of “any offence involving violence, alcohol or drugs, child abuse, any sex offence, or any offence relating to any betting or gambling activities on sport, or any offence which is punishable by imprisonment (unless such charges have subsequently been withdrawn or the offences have been found to be not proven)” .

Australia won bronze at the Tokyo Games, their first medal in men’s Olympics competition.

Boomers coach Brian Goorjian gets vocal.Credit: Getty

Giddey was the best player in Australia’s disappointing campaign at this year’s FIBA World Cup in Asia, his first major international tournament, and Goorjian sees him as a key figure as they chase gold in Paris and beyond.

“The first thing I did was message him. He would have got thousands of messages and I also messaged the father [Warrick Giddey, who Goorjian coached against in the NBL],” Goorjian said.

“I just sent them a paragraph of support, right away I get, “Thanks, appreciate it”.

“I think he needs constant support right now, he doesn’t need to respond but just to let him know that I’m thinking of him if needs anything.

Josh Giddey’s form has dipped.Credit: AP

“I don’t know what happened but I know he is a special kid from a special family and he is a Boomer so it’s my time to step up. Not make a phone call and then say hope it all works out for you.

“I cut him from the [Tokyo] Olympics and he didn’t come back with “here’s some baggage you can wear”, he came back with a hug and “I’m in” for the World Cup. So it’s my turn now.”

Giddey has declined to comment on the allegations, as has Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.

The coach did defend Giddey’s form after the Rockets game. The Australian’s minutes on court have dropped slightly as defenders stand off him, forcing him to take long shots.

Giddey made two of five three-point shots against Houston, but star teammates had less room to attack with his defender clogging up the key.

“I was talking to [Giddey] about it this morning, and he’s like ‘It’s the first time I’ve gotten played like that,’ which is an important point. It’s like, he’s been here for two years, and I look at it as a compliment to our offence that we’re seeing that now,” Daigneault said.

Two-time Boomers Olympian Chris Anstey expects Giddey’s case to be resolved well before the Olympic team is selected.

”It won’t be hanging around, I’m confident there will be a resolution before then one way or the other,” said Anstey, who coached Giddey in Victoria’s under-20 side.

Anstey expressed concern that Giddey’s reputation and “brand” had taken a severe blow from the way the matter became public.

“I tell a lot of young athletes and students I work with to make sure they understand the source of the information,” Anstey said.

“I’m just waiting for the actual facts to come out. I’ve known Josh a long time. I’ve known his family a long time, so I would be amazed if there was a purposeful intent to create harm.

“My strong hope is that when the facts come out, they will support that Josh has not done anything untoward by the law – now that this matter is public, if there was [laws broken], then that will take care of itself.

“But, until that, anyone should be innocent until proven guilty.”

Basketball Australia was approached for comment on Giddey’s Olympic status, having previously declined to weigh in while the investigations continue.

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