In what is being touted as the biggest announcement in the lead-up to the 2008/09 NBL season, the Gold Coast Blaze has ended months of speculation by signing Australian basketball legend Shane Heal for next season.
The news that Heal, a local resident, will line up for the Blaze at the point-guard position is another big step forward for the NBL’s newest club in establishing itself as the premier sporting team throughout the thriving Gold Coast summer.
The four time Olympian and former NBL Champion said he was delighted with the signing and thrilled that he can now aim to finish his career at the club of his choice.
“I’m rapt to be part of a Gold Coast NBL club that is going places on and off the court; this is where I have been living for the last four years so it is exciting to be involved in the growth of this club. I have three daughters who play basketball on the coast and I can see that the sport is really starting to take off here and I’m looking forward to helping that continue,” Shane Heal said.
Heal also acknowledged his the long-term relationship with Blaze Head Coach and Australian Olympic Men’s basketball team Assistant Coach Brendan Joyce.
“Brendan and I go back 20 years and I have a great respect for his knowledge of the game as well as his personal traits as a coach and as a bloke. It’s a strong team that plays hard and they certainly looked like they stuck together in their first year under Brendan and Mark (Watkins, Blaze Assistant Coach).”
Blaze Team Owner, Owen Tomlinson, said that the club is excited to have a player of Heal's quality.
“Shane is an outstanding player, there’s no question about that but we first had to make sure that it was the best fit for our club, now and in the future. Shane not only brings his quality as a basketball player but a wealth of experience that will help us in many ways as we continue to build this basketball club and the sport on the Gold Coast,” Owen Tomlinson said.
“The Blaze has and always will be a club that embraces the Gold Coast community. Having a player as passionate about their sport as Shane, along with our players who have done such a great job in building our club in the first season, is a great bonus for everyone on the Gold Coast, not just the Blaze.”
Already immersed in the local basketball community, Heal has been coach of a junior team at the Runaway Bay Basketball Association for the last few seasons.
Head Coach Brendan Joyce, echoed Tomlinson’s comments, noting Heal as an outstanding role model as well as being widely acknowledged as one of our greatest ever basketball players.
“Shane brings so much to the table for us, his experience gained throughout his career is priceless for our club, four Olympic Games, three World Championships, a NBA and European career as well as his NBL career put him in an elite category and this is something our team can really benefit from,” Brendan Joyce said.
“I’ve seen first-hand his hunger to succeed [at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games] and ability to lead on the floor so he’ll be a great asset for the Blaze and become a part of quite a formidable leadership group.”
“Off the court he obviously is very marketable and enjoys a very strong profile so it is a great fit for our club and the Gold Coast Community, not just in one area but in a lot of areas.”