Basketball's greats named for Hall Of Fame honour

Basketball's greats named for Hall Of Fame honour

Basketball Australia has today named more of the sport’s greats to be enshrined in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 Class, with another seven inductees to receive the game’s highest honour at the prestigious black tie event later this month.

The 5th ABHF Induction Dinner – to be held on Thursday 21 November at The Pullman Albert Park in Melbourne – will recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution at international or national levels, across professional leagues, through States or Associations, at the local level, or to Australian basketball generally.

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally congratulated the seven inductees named today for their profound and ongoing impact on basketball as players, officials and contributors.

“Australia is one of the best performing basketball nations on earth, and that is due in no small part to the contribution people as passionate and committed as these ABHF inductees have made,” Ms Keneally said.

“Our players continue to show grit and determination both here in Australia and on the international stage, while our officials and contributors selflessly dedicate great personal stock to grow the game.

“These men and women are the heroes of basketball both on and off the court, incredibly deserving of their place in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame. We look forward to celebrating their invaluable work and ABHF induction with them later this month."

The full list of 2013 ABHF inductees will be released prior to the dinner on Thursday 21 November. Basketball Australia will induct one ‘Legend’, to be named on the night.

Click here for further details about the ABHF Class of 2013 Induction Dinner.

Kathy Foster (Tasmania) – Inducted as a Player

The pride of the Tasmanian town of New Norfolk, Kathy Foster is the first Tasmanian player to be inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame. In a WNBL career spanning 135 games, the three time MVP (1985, 1986, 1989) also won a Halls Medal in 1985 as the fairest and best player in South Australia (sharing the honour with fellow Hall of Famer Julie Nykiel) and was a member of the 1989 and 1990 WNBL All Star Five. At the international level, Foster represented Australia at an Olympic Games (1984) and two World Championships (1983 and 1986). Her crowning moment came in 1991 when she played a significant role in bringing a WNBL title to Hobart with the Islanders’ victory over the Nunawading Spectres. After hanging up her sneakers at the end of 1992, Foster has remained involved via coaching positions at all levels with a particular focus on her students at The Fahan School in Sandy Bay (where she is Deputy Principal).

Neil Hamilton-Smith (Queensland) – Inducted as a Contributor

Neil Hamilton-Smith served in several roles for Brisbane Basketball through the 1970s – including Vice President, and Secretary at the time of the January 1974 floods. With Auchenflower Stadium under several feet of water Hamilton-Smith could not have imagined the explosive growth that was around the corner and the pivotal role he would play in the management of that growth. When the Brisbane Bullets became a dominant force in the NBL in the mid-1980’s, Hamilton-Smith had a ringside seat as both a member of the club’s board and the courtside announcer, inspiring higher levels of effort from players and spectators alike. He served in the announcer’s role from the Bullets’ first game in 1979 to their last in 2008 and continues to work towards a possible return to that post in the near future. Today, Hamilton-Smith continues to serve basketball as the Chairman of Basketball Queensland.

John Heard (South Australia) – Inducted as a Player

John Heard is widely considered a pioneer of the Australian game on the world stage. A product of the Sturt club in Adelaide (that also nurtured John’s brother Mal, Albert Leslie and the Smyth brothers), Heard was a vital member of the 1964 Boomers, who became the first team from this country to qualify for the Olympics via the rigorous Pre-Olympic Tournament. With five fellow South Australians on the team and State coach Keith Miller on the bench, Heard travelled to Tokyo for the Olympic Games where the Boomers finished in a creditable ninth position with nine wins. On returning to Australia, Heard remained part of a powerful South Australian program through the rest of the decade. On his retirement from on-court participation Heard continued to maintain an involvement in both basketball and Olympic sport, serving as President of Basketball South Australia and the South Australian Olympic Council for significant periods. Today, John continues to inspire the Boomers and Opals of the future with his presence at Australian Championship events, proudly presenting medals while looking resplendent in his 1964 Olympic blazer.

Sue Hobbs (South Australia) – Inducted as a Player

Sue Hobbs was just 19 years of age in 1976 when she was hit by a car and rendered a paraplegic. Already a promising athlete before the accident, Hobbs set her sights on becoming a champion player in wheelchair basketball at a time when there were no other women playing the sport. For over a decade Hobbs worked without recompense or reward, travelling across the country to encourage women to take up the sport. Eventually her hard work and determination paid the ultimate dividend when in 1989 she was named captain of the ‘Original Gliders’ for their first international tournament in Japan. In 1992, Hobbs was again the leader as the Gliders brought home their first ever gold medal at the World Games in Stoke Mandeville, England. As a further bonus the team qualified for the Paralympics in Barcelona where they finished an outstanding fourth. Her passion and undoubted spirit are inculcated into the DNA of wheelchair basketball in this country and this was recognised in 2012 with the striking of the first Hobbs Medal for Australia’s International Women’s Player of the Year.

John Martin (New South Wales) – Inducted as a Technical Official

Few people have done more to professionalise the officiating of basketball in Australia than John Martin. His career has stretched from the mid-1960’s to the present day and encompasses a wide variety of both on and off-court roles. Controlling his first Australian Championship fixture in 1967, Martin soon progressed through the ranks and within a decade was the bearer of a FIBA referee’s pass. For six seasons Martin officiated in the NBL before deciding to move into referee training. The first Australian to be accredited as an International Referee Instructor and Examiner, Martin travelled across the Oceania region to develop both referees and score-bench personnel. A long-term chairman of BA’s Technical Commission, Martin was also a key figure in the operation of the 1997 World Championships for Men Under 22 as well as the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics. Today, Martin continues to serve the game as a senior Consultant to Basketball NSW.

Charles Ryan (Deceased, Victoria) – Inducted as a Contributor

Basketball Australia will posthumously induct Charles Ryan as a Contributor. Although his first involvement in the game was as a player in Sydney’s western suburbs, it is for his role as a founding father of the National Wheelchair Basketball League and president of the Dandenong Basketball Association is honoured with membership of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame. In the 1980’s, Ryan became heavily involved in wheelchair basketball as a coach and administrator. In a role similar to that of Hall of Fame Legend Dr. John Raschke, it was Ryan who proved to be the inspiration for the NWBL, the winner of which (in 2013 the Perth Wheelcats) receives the Charles Ryan Memorial Trophy. Not content with this, Ryan turned his attention to the women’s game and in particular his beloved Dandenong Rangers. As President of the DBA he oversaw the expansion of Dandenong Stadium into one of the premier indoor sport facilities in Australia while the Rangers won back to back WNBL titles in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. A Life Member of Basketball Victoria and the DBA, Charles Ryan died on the 3rd of September 2011 after a two year battle with lymphoma.

Tom York (New South Wales) – Inducted as a Contributor

Historians of the future will have Tom York to thank for the ability to tell the tales of the game: one of his many self-appointed tasks in the early days of the NBL was to preserve the score sheets so that historical statistics could be kept – a clear demonstration that Tom’s training as an accountant had paid off. In half a century of involvement with the game, York has served at every level in every way, mostly in a voluntary capacity. From club delegate to State selector to keeper of the NBL’s books for over a decade, York has been everywhere and seen everything. In the early years of the NBL York and fellow Hall of Fame Members Dr. John Raschke and Bob Staunton formed a ‘kitchen cabinet’ that ran the League’s affairs from Staunton’s dinner table in Bondi Junction. Perhaps York’s most memorable posting was as Team Manager for the Boomers at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where they finished a creditable fourth. Recipient of an OAM in 2005 for services to sporting administration and the Maccabi movement, Tom York now receives the acclaim of a grateful basketball community as he is enshrined as a Contributor into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.