Boomer legend retires
The National Basketball League (NBL) has lost a long-serving legend of the game with 20 year veteran and former Most Valuable Player Mark Bradtke announcing his retirement.
A winner of the NBL’s MVP award in 2002, the competition’s all-time leader in rebounds with 6283 and a selection in both the League’s 20th Season and 25th Anniversary teams, Bradtke was one of the most dominant big-men ever to play in Australia.
A world-class performer, Bradtke represented Australia at four Olympic Games (1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000) and two FIBA World Championships (1990 and 1994).
Bradtke played 205 games for Australia, making his debut in 1986 at the Oceania Junior Championships and a year later playing his first senior international game in the Soviet Union Test match series.
He was also awarded the Basketball Australia 'International Player of the Year' trophy in 1992 and 1999.
After returning from Las Vegas, where he celebrated his latest championship with his Bullets team-mates, Bradtke said he knew it was time to call an end to his playing days.
“The decision really had to be made quickly once the season was over as the Bullets have to get into their recruiting for next year,” Bradtke said.
“I told them I would let them know by the end of the Vegas trip, and I think going out on a high, having won the title, swayed me quite a bit.
“Not many people get to go out after winning a Grand Final.”
In addition, the 209cm centre also competed for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA and played professionally in Spain and Greece.
Bradtke’s dominance on both ends of the court resulted in three NBL Championships, two with the Melbourne Tigers in 1993 and 1997, where he formed one third of an incomparable trio with guard Lanard Copeland and all-time great Andrew Gaze, and one championship more recently with the Brisbane Bullets in 2007.
His 554 career NBL games with the Adelaide 36ers (1988-92), Melbourne Tigers (1993-2005), and the Brisbane Bullets (2006-07), including 64 in the playoffs, ranks him fourth all-time in NBL history.
Bradtke was selected to the All-NBL First Team nine times, and led the League in rebounding seven times. He finishes with career averages of 17.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while making 53 percent of his field goal attempts.
Bradtke also spoke about many of his career highlights.
“The championship win with the Bullets is obviously the freshest, but just competing against the best players in the world is what really sticks in my mind. I am not big on thinking about particular things from games; I am more about the whole experience.”
Bradtke listed some familiar names from the past and present as the toughest big-men he has faced over his illustrious career both in Australia and abroad.
“Shaq and Sabonis were probably the toughest guys I have faced,” Bradtke said, referring to NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and Lithuanian and Olympic centre Arvydas Sabonis.
“Within the NBL, it was always good to go against John Dorge. He and I had some good battles over the years.”
But Bradtke said it wasn’t just the big-men he will remember.
“Playing alongside guys like Lanard Copeland and Andrew Gaze was just incredible.
“I am not sure there is much more that can be said about those guys. I am so lucky just to have had the opportunity to have competed with them and against so many good players.”
“This year I thought Sam Mackinnon was just superb. I have not seen someone do what he does both offensively and defensively so consistently - it was just amazing.”