Back in the Day: January 2001

Back in the Day: January 2001

This week's journey in the BA TARDIS takes us to January of 2001. The weather is hot and there is little rain in sight, writes Basketball Australia historian Nicholas Way.

Time then to pull out your boardies, slip, slop and slap, as we get ready to hear the strains of the United States Marine Band...

The two major stories are of presidencies in transition. In the United States, Democrat William J. Clinton turns over the reins of power to Republican George W. Bush. Bush, only the second son of a President to achieve that office (the other being John Quincy Adams), is expected to govern in a moderate style, saying in his Inaugural Address that, ‘I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.’ The new President’s first executive order is to overturn US support for international family-planning organisations, a major victory for the religious wing of his party. It is only the beginning.

It is the end, however, for the President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada. Impeachment proceedings descend into farce after supporters of the President block attempts to reveal the contents of an envelope that is believed to contain damaging evidence. Anti-Estrada forces march out of Parliament and onto the streets. In scenes that recall the ‘People Power’ revolution in 1986, thousands of protestors march on Manila to demand Estrada’s resignation. Following the decision of the police and armed forces to support the protestors, Estrada eventually steps aside, in favour of his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Estrada and his family leave the presidential palace on the back of a barge.

Other news and notes from the week:

- Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announces that his state will go to the polls on February 17. Beattie aims to overcome the fallout from a major electoral rorts scandal and claim a second term.

- Western Australia is in the midst of its own election campaign. Premier Richard Court is seeking a third term in office. The rematch between Court and Labor leader Dr. Geoff Gallop is seen as a dry run for a Federal election, due by the end of 2001.

- Seven of President Bush’s Cabinet nominees are confirmed by voice vote in the United States Senate. The group includes Colin Powell (State), Donald Rumsfeld (Defence) and Paul O’Neill (Treasury).

-The holder of the title of ‘Australia’s oldest man’ Jack Lockett of Bendigo Victoria, celebrates his 110th birthday with a small party for family, friends and local media.

- The Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants fly to Tampa, Florida to prepare for Super Bowl XXXV.

- The Australian Open tennis championships enter the second week. The major shock is the elimination of the top three men’s seeds (Gustavo Kuerten, Marat Safin and Pete Sampras) before the quarter finals.

- Byron De La Beckwith, the man convicted of murdering American civil rights leader Medgar Evers 31 years after he committed the crime, dies in Jackson, Mississippi at the age of 79.

-‘ Rollin’, ‘Independent Women Part 1’ and ‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’ are pulling Australian music lovers onto their local dance floors.

In basketball, both the NBL and WNBL had passed the half-way marks in their regular seasons and both competitions had their elite teams sorted out. Our focus only catches the back end of Round 14 of the last Mitsubishi Challenge and Round 11 of the Orange Championship (Orange was the brand name then in use for the Hutchison Telecom mobile network).

In the NBL (home teams first)

Cairns 91 lost to Townsville 94

The Crocs come from behind to get the win, despite Sam Mackinnon missing the game with a knee injury that was expected to keep him out for a month. The Taipans missed three opportunities to snatch the game in the final seconds and fell to a record of 2 wins and 15 losses.

Perth 107 defeated Victoria 100

This grand final rematch saw the Wildcats claim a club record 12th successive win in front of a packed house at the PEC. James Harvey and Scott Fisher each scored 30 points as Perth overcame a six point deficit heading into the final quarter. Jason Smith starred for the Titans, scoring 27 points for the night in his 200th NBL game.

West Sydney 107 defeated Adelaide 101

The upset of the round and maybe the year as the Razors (who had lost 10 of their last 11 matches) stun the 36ers at the Pig Pen. A well balanced Razorback attack (Ya Ya Dia 24 points and 10 rebounds, Rucker 23 points, Rillie 21 and 11, Simon Dwight 18 points and 14 rebounds) keep their mathematical hopes of making the play-offs alive.

Melbourne 125 defeated Townsville 98

The NBL’s ‘Takin’ It to the Streets’ promotion visits Bendigo, with the Tigers smiting a depleted Townsville line-up. Lanard Copeland excites the crowd at the MinerDome, top-scoring with 34 points as Melbourne move to the edge of the top six.

In the WNBL (home teams first)

Melbourne 86 defeated Perth 65

A great night for the Lady Tigers as they break a ten game losing streak and get their first win at home for the season. Michelle Brogan top scores for Melbourne with 30 points. For the Breakers, Narelle Fletcher is their top scorer with 23 points.

Canberra 70 defeated Sydney 68

The game of the round, as two teams expected to meet in the playoffs play out a thriller, with a last second block of a Belinda Snell shot (who top-scored for the game with 31 points) by Lauren Jackson (who had a quiet 10 points and 15 rebounds) deciding the contest. It was only the second loss for the Panthers and a first loss for new coach Karen Dalton, who had replaced Tom Maher mid-week (Maher had taken the head coaching job at the WNBA’s Washington Mystics).

Dandenong 119 defeated Perth 63

This game can be best described as Penny Taylor’s coming-out party. The stat line says it best: 52 points, 22-of-32 from the field including 3-of-3 from outside the arc, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, 6 rebounds and 7 steals. Her points total was one short of the then WNBL record, set by Noarlunga’s Julie Nykiel in 1982. When asked for a reason why Taylor had missed the record, Rangers coach Mark Wright was quoted as saying ‘I think Penny got a sore wrist from shooting the ball.’  Penny was 19 at the time, and the WNBA was circling. Perth’s Narelle Fletcher played her 250th WNBL game.

The ladders at the end of the week:


Top Six:
Perth                      15 and 3
Wollongong              13 and 3
Victoria                   13 and 4
Adelaide                  13 and 5
Townsville               11 and 5
Sydney                    7 and 8

Bottom Five:
Melbourne                 7 and 8
West Sydney             4 and 13
Canberra                   3 and 12
Brisbane                    3 and 15
Cairns                       2 and 15


Top Four:
Sydney                   10 and 2
Dandenong              10 and 3 
Canberra                  9 and 3
Adelaide                   8 and 4                          

Bottom Four:
AIS                        4 and 7
Bulleen                    4 and 9
Perth                       3 and 11
Melbourne               2 and 11

Next week, a loud whine from the letter pages as yet another sportsman is named Australian of the Year. You’ll think it’s the end of the world as ‘Back in the Day’ continues.

This is the fifteenth 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.’