Back in the Day: Cancers in the Body Politic

Back in the Day: Cancers in the Body Politic

The Back in the Day clock winds back to January 1999, with the Lock-out winding down, one of the NBL's greatest looking to the USA and plenty of action on the national hardwood as well.

-In a scene torn out of a Gothic nightmare, 13 members of the U.S. House of Representatives troop through the Capitol to the Senate chamber and begin the first impeachment trial of a President since 1868. Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner speaks for his fellow managers: “When a cancer exists in the body politic, our job, our duty is to excise it.” It is recognised through most of official Washington however that President Bill Clinton will be acquitted of the two charges against him.

-Following an end-of-year policy review, Australia signals a change on its stance on the issue of East Timor. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announces that Indonesia will be encouraged to reconsider their position on possible self-determination for the former Portuguese colony. Government spokesmen in Jakarta soon expressed how they were “concerned and deeply regretted” the news of Australia’s new position and warn darkly of threats to continued good relations between the two countries.

-The NSW National Party follows its partner in the Coalition and conducts a leadership coup within sight of the election due in March. Ian Armstrong is rolled 13-4 and replaced by George Souris. Despite the change, the new team of Souris and Liberal leader Kerry Chikarovski remains comfortably behind the Labor Government of Premier Bob Carr.

-Nigeria sends in fresh forces to Sierra Leone to relieve the defenders of the capital Freetown from rebel attack. Other African governments, frightened of the possible ramifications of a rebel victory, hurriedly consult with each other to form a plan.

-There is a boardroom coup within the powerful banking firm Goldman Sachs. Following a poor result in the fourth quarter of the previous year and the failure of an IPO of the company, co-chairman and CEO Jon Corzine is kicked upstairs to the position of non-executive chairman and his former co-chair Henry Paulson takes full control of the company.

-The former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes is posthumously awarded the Whitbread Poetry Award for Birthday Letters. The collection of poems focuses on the relationship between Hughes and American writer Sylvia Plath, which had ended tragically when Plath took her own life. Many well-known critics place it among Hughes’ best work.

-The International Olympic Committee is rocked by the continuing effects of a scandal affecting the awarding of the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City. The city’s bid Chairman reveals that he personally authorised the paying of a US$10,000 bribe to the campaign of a Chilean member for the office of Mayor of Santiago. Across the world of sports calls come for root and branch reform of the Committee and the removal of President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

-There are big pay days in American sports: the ball which Mark McGuire hit to bring up his record 70th home run is sold at auction for US$4.3 million, a record for a piece of baseball memorabilia. Meanwhile a group led by fun-fair king Daniel Snyder pays US$700 million to own the NFL’s Washington Redskins. This is a record amount for a professional sporting franchise in North America.

-A one-day international between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is interrupted by despicable crowd behaviour. Missiles including golf and billiard balls are thrown at England players near the boundary and their captain Alex Stewart sees no alternative but to lead his players off the field. It takes the intervention of local hero Shane Warne (wearing a teammate’s helmet) and several ejections before order is restored.

-Notable deaths during the week included two servants of the law: former Labor Senator Jim McClelland (at the age of 83) and former Solicitor-General Sir Maurice Byers (at the age of 82).

-“Have You Ever”, “A Little Bit More” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” sat atop the music charts.

-Three items of basketball news, the first two related to the end of the NBA lock-out:

-Michael Jordan confirms what most informed judges had expected by announcing his retirement from the game for good. The announcement is front-page news across the globe with the airwaves humming as pundits attempted to explain his legacy to the sport.

-Reports from Melbourne suggest that the San Antonio Spurs have expressed an interest in acquiring the services of Andrew Gaze for the upcoming season. Although both sides must await the official opening of free-agency before signing a contract, the deal is pretty much done.

-The NBL releases figures showing that average attendance has risen by 11 per cent since the move to a summer season. Most clubs record rises in their own average attendances with only Perth, Sydney and Canberra showing falling crowds.

NBL Round 15, WNBL Round 14

Friday 15th January 1999

NBL Game One: Newcastle Falcons @Wollongong Hawks

Final score: Hawks 110-Falcons 94

This final ‘Steel City Showdown’ provided the home side with a measure of revenge following the 28 point thrashing handed out by Newcastle in the opening game at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre earlier in the season. The game was won in the middle two quarters with the Hawks scoring 56 points to the Falcons’ 33. After a 5-1 start to the season Newcastle had crumbled to win only two of their last 12 matches.

Milestone Alert: C.J. Bruton scores his 1000th NBL point

NBL Game Two: Melbourne Tigers @Townsville Crocodiles

Final score: Crocodiles 90-Tigers 89

Townsville squeaked out a critical victory after falling seven points behind with three minutes left for play. In a frantic finish Robert Rose stole the ball off an inbound pass with 6.9 seconds remaining to preserve his team’s margin of victory. The Crocs’ tough zone defence forced Melbourne into making an unsustainable 31 shots from beyond the three-point line, connecting on only 11 of them. Sam MacKinnon was the leader for the home team with 22 points and ten rebounds.

NBL Game Three: Canberra Cannons @Sydney Kings

Final score: Kings 108-Cannons 73

Chained to the bottom of the NBL ladder and smarting following a devastating 48 point hiding handed out by the Crocs, Sydney had been through a dramatic week of soul-searching. With the players delivering a unanimous vote of confidence in coach Bill Tomlinson the Kings produced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in League history by whipping their fellow cellar-dwellers at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Matthew Nielsen poured in 28 points and 11 rebounds as Sydney shot an above-average 56 per cent from the field.

WNBL Game One: Bulleen Melbourne Boomers @Sydney Flames

Final score: Flames 66-Boomers 43

After falling behind early the Flames rode the hot hand of Alicia Poto to a much-needed victory. Poto finished with a game-high 22 points that included four three-pointers. Robyn Maher keyed a defensive effort that held the Boomers to only two scorers in double figures. It proved to be a fitting celebration of Karen Dalton’s milestone game; in her previous 349 games Dalton had averaged 11.7 points per game while grabbing 2137 total rebounds.

Milestone Alert: Karen Dalton plays her 350th WNBL game.

Saturday 16th January 1999

NBL Game Four: Victoria Titans @Perth Wildcats

Final score: Titans 85-Wildcats 84

With Scott Fisher, Paul Rogers and James Crawford all sidelined through injury the Wildcats’ vaunted ‘Wall’ was ready to topple. In the end, reserve centre Dewey Michaels produced a mighty performance to hold the Titans centre pair of Ben Pepper and Brett Wheeler to a combined 21 points and ten rebounds. It was Perth’s pitiful 59% shooting from the free-throw line that would give Tony Ronaldson a chance to sink a three-pointer with seconds left for play and allow Victoria to hold on to second spot on the ladder.

NBL Game Five: Canberra Cannons @Adelaide 36ers

Final score: 36ers 105-Cannons 87

It was an easy night’s work for 36ers coach Phil Smyth as Canberra proved to be no more than a tiny speed hump on Adelaide’s road towards back to back titles. David Stiff played his best game as a 36er to date, scoring 30 points on 13/15 from the field while collecting seven rebounds. Darnell Mee added 17 points and nine rebounds for the home side as their drive towards the title was starting to gain steam.

NBL Game Six: Sydney Kings @West Sydney Razorbacks

Final score: Razorbacks 78-Kings 72

After a dreadful first quarter in which both teams made numerous foolish turnovers, West Sydney settled down and took control of the contest. Razors talisman Derek Rucker provided the momentum behind a 20-4 run that effectively sealed the match and gave West Sydney a much desired victory in the season series between the two clubs. When asked if the play-offs were a realistic ambition, Rucker was blunt: “What is most important is that Sydney’s our town.” Once again the Kings showed an inability to concentrate for long periods with bad turnovers compounded by too much time spent whinging over refereeing decisions.

NBL Game Seven: Melbourne Tigers @Brisbane Bullets

Final score: Tigers 118-Bullets 104 (OT)

Andrew Gaze, ready to follow his dream to the NBA, produced one final masterpiece and torched the Bullets for 45 points including 10 of his team’s 16 points in the extra session. His 10 three-pointers from 15 attempts equalled a club record held jointly by Brian Goorjian, Lanard Copeland and Gaze himself (from 1987). Gaze’s bravura display overshadowed a fine comeback from Brisbane, who needed two three pointers from Leroy Loggins and another from Steve Woodberry with six seconds to go to force the overtime period.

Milestone Alert: Leroy Loggins plays his 450th game for the Bullets

WNBL Game Two: A.I.S @Perth Breakers

Final score: A.I.S 80-Breakers 73 (OT)

Off the back of a 32 point defeat of the Flames in Sydney, A.I.S coach Phil Brown used the booking of his team’s usual training venue for the national futsal championships to mix things up. He took his team to Thredbo for a week’s work in altitude: it proved to be the perfect tonic. The Game of the Week proved to be worthy of the title with the League’s top two teams going to overtime before the Students clinched the season series and possible home-court advantage through the play-offs. 17 year old wunderkind Lauren Jackson was the star with an astounding 32 points, 21 rebounds five blocked shots and three assists. It remains the fifth highest individual score and the equal second individual rebound total in the Institute’s history in the WNBL. Already informed judges were pointing to Jackson as one of if not the finest players ever produced in Australia.

WNBL Game Three: Canberra Capitals @Adelaide Lightning

Final score: Lighting 80-Capitals 55

Needing every win they could grab in order to assure themselves a place in the play-offs, Adelaide coasted to an easy victory over the Capitals. Seventeen points from Shelley Sandie would not be enough to end Canberra’s winless streak against the Lightning which now stretched to 0-13. Rachael Sporn paced the home team with 19 points while Jo Hill made several crucial plays in gathering 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes of court time.

Sunday 17th January 1999

WNBL Game Four: Canberra Capitals @Dandenong Rangers

Final score: Rangers 80-Capitals 56

NBL Ladder

Top Six                                                                               Bottom Five

Melbourne                     12 and 5                                   Townsville                        7 and 9

Victoria                           10 and 6                                   Perth                                 7 and 9

Wollongong                   10 and 6                                   Newcastle                        7 and 11

Adelaide                         10 and 7                                   Canberra                          6 and 10

Brisbane                           8 and 8                                    Sydney                             6 and 11

West Sydney                   8 and 9

WNBL Ladder

Top Four:                                                                   Bottom Four:

A.I.S                              13 and 5                                Bulleen                          8 and 8

Perth                               9 and 5                                Sydney                           8 and 9

Melbourne                      9 and 8                                Dandenong                    5 and 9

Adelaide                          8 and 7                                Canberra                       4 and 13

Next week in Back in the Day: on a cold, grey day a kaleidoscope of disasters only awaits the match. A new era in the history of aircraft is unveiled; a bit player stretches the truth no longer and for the final time ‘Therrrrrrre’s Johnny!” That and plenty more will be covered next week in ‘Back in The Day.’