Back in the Day: January 1999

Back in the Day: January 1999

After a shared Christmas-New Year break, the BA tardis is back in business. This week, we travel to the start of 1999, where a lock-out ends and a trial begins. Despite the 'silly season' tag, there was still quite a bit going on in the world. Let's take a look around.

In Washington D.C., history is made as the House of Representatives presents articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate. For the first time since 1868, the 100 members of the Senate are sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve as jurors in the impeachment trial of a President. And it was all shown live on C-Span. With the trial having now commenced, the House elects a new Speaker. Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert becomes the 59th person to hold that post. In his opening address as Speaker, he pledges to bring peace to a troubled political landscape. The White House meanwhile announces that the next Federal budget will be in surplus to the tune of $76 billion, an all-time record. Despite the aura of scandal that surrounded President Clinton, his approval ratings remained steadily above 60%, to the befuddlement of Washington’s ‘establishment’.

Another reason for the President’s popularity is being seen on the trading floors of the world’s stock exchanges.  Prices are reaching record levels as the middle classes join in the rush for a quick buck. According to reports of the day, fears of a long-running effect from the 1997 Asian financial meltdown, along with rising interest in high-technology stocks, are the main factors.  Other items of interest include:

-An analysis of Year 12 exam results in Australia shows that male students are lagging further and further behind their female counterparts.

-HRH Prince Edward announces his engagement to Sophie Rhys-Jones.

-Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura is sworn in as the 38th Governor of the state of Minnesota.

-Australia completes a 3-1 Ashes series victory over England; Stuart MacGill is named man of the match after taking 12 wickets for 107 runs in the match.

-The team of Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic win the Hopman Cup tennis tournament for Australia; it is the first success for the host country.

-NBA Commissioner David Stern and Players Association head Billy Hunter reach an 11th hour agreement to end a 207 day lock-out that would cripple the league for several years. One well-known sportswriter described the dispute as being ‘between tall millionaires and short millionaires.’ Hopes of a comeback by Michael Jordan appear to be dimming by the day.

- ‘I’m Your Angel’, ‘Praise You’ and ‘Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)’ reign at the top of the charts. There is plenty of buzz, however, about Baby, One More Time, the debut album of a former Mouseketeer named Britney Spears.

Round 14 of the Mitsubishi Challenge saw five games played.  Perth won their way into the league’s top six with a 109-94 victory over the Cannons at The Palace. The Wildcats, who were missing both James Crawford and Paul Rogers due to injury, rode on the back of a 39 point haul by import guard Clint McDaniel. It was McDaniel’s season high and was supported by 20 points from Andrew Vlahov. Former Boomer Mike McKay continues his recent good form, pacing the Cannons with 30 points. It was a hard, physical game with Perth’s Anthony Stewart suffering a suspected broken wrist and Canberra’s Melvin Thomas needing stiches to close a cut above an eye.

The only thing hard about Sydney’s visit to Townsville’s Swamp was watching the Kings stink up the joint. Coach Bill Tomlinson described their second half as ‘inept...We did not want to bruise people’. Sam MacKinnon’s 24 points ensured that the Violet Crumbles were now anchored to the bottom of the NBL ladder.

3rd hosted 4th at the Sandpit in what turned out to be the game of the round. C.J. Bruton scored 29 points and dished off 5 assists for the Hawks as they took a half-game lead over the 36ers in the battle for the last home-court slot in the top six (This was the period of three first-round series and the ‘lucky loser’.) Victoria clung on to second spot on the ladder with their second victory over the West Sydney Razorbacks at the Pig Pen for the season. The star of this 89-77 victory was Mike Kelly, who not only scored an equal game-high 23 points, but limited Razors spearhead Derek Rucker to only 10 points for the night. Finally the Newcastle Falcons lost their fourth straight game as Brisbane were victorious to the tune of 98-82. Leroy Loggins starred for the Bullets, garnering 24 valuable points.

In the WNBL, Melbourne’s weekend was wonderful. Wins against Bulleen (63-49) and Adelaide (71-60) pulled the Tigers out of the sub.500 mire and into third place. With Perth having a bye week (and five games in hand) it would be difficult for Melbourne to make up the ground. Much of the credit for the Tigers’ rise went to defensive super-stopper Emily McInerny. Adelaide did get some joy out of the round; their 69-58 victory kept them within striking distance of a play-off berth.

The Flames visited the national capital for their ‘Capital Cruise’; the ship foundered on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.  A surprise defeat at the hands of the lowly Capitals (where the Flames shot 19/76 and the two teams shot for a combined 29% in a 53-47 snore fest) was followed by a 94-52 hiding at the hands of the A.I.S. Suzy Batkovic scored 19 points for the Students as they maintained their charge towards a minor premiership.

You may be asking yourself, where do I go from here? That’s easy, the third millennium, of course! That’s next week in ‘Back in the Day’.

NBL Ladder after Round 14:

Top Six                                                             

Melbourne               11 and 4
Victoria                   9  and 6
Wollongong              9  and 6
Adelaide                  9  and 7
Brisbane                 8  and 7
Perth                      7 and 8

Bottom Five

West Sydney            7 and 9
Canberra                 6 and 8
Newcastle                7 and 10
Townsville                6 and 9
Sydney                   5 and 10

WNBL Ladder

Top Four                                                         

A.I.S.                     12 and 5
Perth                      9 and 4
Melbourne               9 and 8
Bulleen                   8 and 7                                   

Bottom Four

Adelaide                  7 and 7
Sydney                   7 and 9
Dandenong              4 and 9
Canberra                 4 and 11

Question of the Week Presented by Nobody:

This week, awards and more specifically the names of awards. In the NBL, we have the Andrew Gaze Trophy for regular season MVP and the Larry Sengstock Medal for Grand Final MVP. In the WNBL there is the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year and the Betty Watson Rookie of the Year. What I would like from you, dear reader, is suggestions for these awards:

NBL: Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Best Sixth Man and Most Improved Player. Should we have an award for the scoring champion of the regular season (on points scored and not necessarily on average)?

WNBL: Most Valuable Player (regular season and Grand Final), Coach of the Year, Top Shooters Award.

You can also submit suggestions for new awards (serious or comic).

Send your suggestions to and put in the subject line “Back in the Day-League Awards’.

So get thinking, and start writing!

By Nicholas Way for Basketball Australia

This is the thirteenth in a regular series of articles that will take note of the historic events of the modern era of Australian basketball (1979-today). If you have memories to share, or topics that should be discussed, send an email to and put in the subject line ‘Back in the Day’.