It was the easiest "hard" decision of Ryan Broekhoff's life.
The NBA swingman will miss playing for the Australian Boomers this year, including in the showdown with Team USA at Marvel Stadium in August and the FIBA World Cup campaign in China.
Ryan Broekhoff in action for the Boomers.Credit:AAP
For someone who grew up playing with the Frankston Blues, running out for Australia in Melbourne would have been priceless. But the two most important people in Broekhoff's life need him more than the national team does.
In late June, Broekhoff and wife Katie are expecting their first child, a son, and they can't wait for him to arrive.
They pair have been together since college and they were never sure if they would be able to conceive a child, making this moment even more special.
Broekhoff wants to be there for his wife and with her family based in the US, he would be too far away to be completely focused while playing for the Boomers in Australia and then China.
Adding to Broekhoff's concerns, Katie has an auto-immune disease that requires medication and makes a pregnancy difficult. There are many cases of people having healthy babies in the same circumstances, but the birth and early weeks can be difficult.
"Katie has been such a strong woman through this, even in a few emergency room visits, she has been strong and positive," Broekhoff said.
"She will handle whatever the baby throws at her."
So far things have gone well and the Broekhoffs are positive and support each other closely.
"There are a few risk factors that come into play and for me to be on the other side of the world and anything come up – I just couldn't put myself or my family through that," Broekhoff said.
"It would be quite an extended period away from my newborn son and my wife at an important time and with the basketball schedule, I'd lose so much more time being away during the season so it's what I have to do for my family.
"I have to put them first. I'd love to be there with the guys and playing.
"It's one of the hardest but easiest decisions I've ever had to make."
There remains the potential that the baby will need some extra care in his first few months to make sure his immune system develops.
But even without that factor, Broekhoff would have been with his family.
"He might a little immune suppressed due to the medication Katie needs to stay healthy," Broekhoff said.
"Katie has to do everything to stay healthy and have the baby come out as healthy as he can be.
"Then the first few weeks after the baby comes will be a cautious period for both Katie and the baby as they re-adjust to life by themselves."
Broekhoff made his NBA debut this past season, finally turning several years of elite play in Europe into a contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
He is waiting to find out if the Mavericks will take up the second year of his contract by June 30. If not, he faces free agency.
He still plans to start workouts with some teammates in Dallas next week and see what the team decides.
The toughest call Broekhoff had to make was to Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis, telling him he was withdrawing.
Lemanis said Broekhoff had the team's complete support in his decision.
"We always support our players in this and he is going to stay and be a part of that important event in his life," Lemanis said.
Broekhoff still found it hard to let go of a place after working tirelessly to make the 2014 FIBA World Cup team and the 2016 Rio Olympics team.
"I called Andrej and got choked up because of how much the Boomers mean to me," Broekhoff said.
"But he was very supportive. Totally understood. It's a credit to the man he is in understanding people have lives outside of basketball and it's what I needed to do."
When Ben Simmons dropped his unexpected announcement on Wednesday that he would play for the Boomers this year, many started picturing how much his passing would help a shooter like Broekhoff find more open shots.
Broekhoff himself felt a tinge of disappointment but knows he is making the right call.
"I saw that post and I got excited and a little disappointed at the same time," Broekhoff said.
"It's going to be awesome for all the other guys, Ben is going to do what he does and fit into the program and Andrej and the staff are going to work out who will get on the end of those Ben Simmons' passes."
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