IT'D be easy to say Kevin White's grand final series heroics for Perth Wildcats came as no surprise to those who know him best ... it just wouldn't necessarily be true.
To be fair, it would have taken almost silly optimism to suggest the 34-year-old would average 12 points, three triples a game for a collective clip of 50 per cent from three-point range in a grand final series.
That's before you consider the minutes; averaging 26 over three games and playing a whopping 31 in game three. This from a guy who averaged 11 through the regular season and just eight a game in 2020-2019 with Adelaide.
So, even those who know and love the guy were surprised. As it turns out, none more so than wife Rachel.
"I was only talking to Rachel the other day and she said 'before the finals I was ready for you to retire but you can actually play basketball still'," White said.
"It's pretty funny when your wife is shocked you can still play."
The performance, albeit on the wrong end of a grand final sweep, was the latest example of the former Hawks skipper's ability to find a way to what's required.
Whether being an annoying piece of apple skin stuck in Jerome Randle's back teeth; flattening former 36ers bully Eric Jacobsen, or as it turns out providing scoring punch in the absence of Bryce Cotton.
"I just got an opportunity and took it with both hands," White said on his return to Wollongong this week.
"I've never doubted what I could do on the court and bring to a team. We had pieces missing and it was just what was required of me to help the team try to win whatever we could.
"It's the first time in my career where I've had three or four games in double digits [scoring] and shot the ball well all series. It was cool to do that on that stage but, at the end of the day, I did what I did and we lost.
"I'd give all those shots back for someone else to make two or three more and we win a grand final and I'm not in the spotlight. I'd trade it all in for the ring on the finger and cutting those nets down."
You could argue the fact he was even on the floor in any capacity was remarkable enough, having stared down the end of his career at virtually every critical stage of his 250-plus-game journey.
His hometown Sydney Kings didn't want him after four seasons. Same deal when he traveled down the highway to the Illawarra - which he now calls home - and was also deemed surplus to requirements by the previous ownership after four campaigns.
There's no doubt the latter stung the most. It was even in the back of the mind for an "Albion Park local" in game two of the semi-finals series in Wollongong.
"We went 1-0 down to the Hawks and it was bittersweet for me going into that second game," White said.
"The club I never wanted to leave and always wanted to win a championship with from the day I moved down here. If we'd lost, the Hawks got a chance and an opportunity for all the fans, all the friends and family I've got down here now.
"At the same time, you never put on a jersey and not give everything you have for your team and the people you've worked so hard for through a season."
That in itself could be where the grand final performances came from. White thinks as much, saying he had a firm desire to repay the Wildcats, and coach Trevor Gleeson's faith in him, after a well-publicised acrimonious departure from Adelaide.
"Trev (Gleeson) rang me straight off the bat as soon all the Adelaide stuff happened and said 'mate I'm in your corner, if you need anything give me a call'," White said.
"He was in my corner all year. I think [my performance] was probably a little bit of appreciation for what the Wildcats did in sticking their neck out for me and taking a chance after everything that went down last year.
"My exit call with Trev was pretty special. I've been a part of a lot of those calls and to have him say he couldn't be more proud of how I handled myself when the lights were on and it was all on the line.
"I hope I paid them back a little bit in showing how much I want to fight, how much I love the game and appreciated everything they've done for me as a club in the past year."
It has provided a timely, if unexpected, bump to his free-agency stocks. Is it a late career resurgence as a three-and-D guy?
He's not sure. A shot at redemption with Perth would be OK. It's hard to picture a more respectable sweep, despite a 3-zip tally being fact.
Like a lot of people, he wonders what would have happened with Cotton on deck. Mitch Norton, Luke Travers and Clint not on three legs between them.
While retirement doesn't loom as ominously for the father of two as it does for some others, he still feels he's got something to offer.
"I'm ready for retirement if that time comes," he said.
"I've got two young boys at home, I haven't spent much time with one of them. He was born in March, so I'm ready to spend time with my family and be with them.
"If something comes up I'd put myself out there again. Ideally, I'd love it to be back at Perth because I do believe if we had our full roster that series looks a helluva lot different.
"It'd be nice to go back there and get a bit of redemption with a healthy group and see how we could go, but it's not always the way these things are.
"If a club calls and they want my services, I'll be there. I'll play the same way I have my whole career and treat every game like it's the last one I'm going to play."
It begs the obvious question ... he knows Albion Park's barely a Damian Lillard three away from the Snakepit, right?
"I think their head coach (Brian Goorjian) is a little tied up with something pretty important for the next few weeks," White said of the Australian Boomers coach.
"I am just down the road. I'm an Albion Park local now so, if he picks up the phone, I'll definitely take his call, that's for sure."
That would be a good yarn. Just ask Rachel, hubby is still pretty handy with a basketball.