Stirling and Mickan to join Australian Basketball Hall of Fame

Stirling and Mickan to join Australian Basketball Hall of Fame

South Australian basketball royalty Jan Stirling and Pat Mickan will be recognised for their outstanding contribution to the game as part of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame at the Class of 2013 induction dinner to be held later this month.

Stirling, one of the most successful coaches in Australian sport, led the Jayco Australian Opals to victory at the 2006 FIBA World Championships and two Olympic silver medals in addition to a WNBL coaching career that garnered four titles with the Adelaide Lightning.

Mickan was a key piece of the Australian Opals machine throughout the late 1970’s and 80’s, competing at two Olympic games and three World Championships before becoming the scribe for women’s basketball in South Australia as a columnist for the Adelaide Advertiser.

A highly-regarded point guard, Stirling would play 163 WNBL games between 1982 and 1991 after representing the Opals at the 1975 FIBA World Championships.

The move from playing to coaching came naturally to Stirling, taking over the reins of the Adelaide Lightning in 1993, where she would create one of the great dynasties of Australian basketball.

After leading the Lightning to the preliminary final in her first season in charge, Stirling guided her team to five consecutive WNBL Grand Finals, winning a hat-trick of titles from 1994-1996 and again in 1998.

It was part of a run that saw the Lightning reach the WNBL post-season in each of Stirling’s 12 seasons at the helm.

Prolonged success in the WNBL saw Stirling awarded the Australian Opals coaching role following the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was here where Stirling’s would become a national coaching icon, guiding Opals to the gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.

This amazing achievement, Australia’s first in senior competition, would surrounded by silver medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, bronze at the 2002 FIBA World Championships and gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

In 2008 Stirling was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her contribution to sport - as an elite coach, player and as a contributor to professional development and the community.

Such is her standing in the sporting community, Stirling has served as a coaching and leadership consultant to the Russian Basketball Federation, AFL club the Port Adelaide Power and most recently on selection committee for the Australian Boomers and Jayco Australian Opals head coaching positions.

A humbled Stirling said to be mentioned alongside the names that have come before her in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame was the ultimate honour.

“Like it is for a majority of inductees we use language like it is very humbling because we know there are so many people out there in our sport that do some significant work and it certainly reflects on a lot of people that have helped me along the way,” Stirling said.

Despite the amount of the success that Stirling has achieved as a coach, it is the development of the players as people that give her the most satisfaction.

“The most satisfying component for me in coaching is you’re in a privileged situation where you can influence young, developing athletes and I’ve always treasured that and ensured my commitment to that is exactly what they deserve,” Stirling said.

“Those athletes who have been in teams that you have coached and you see them excel in life that is when you start to get some satisfaction.”

Regarded as one of the premier players of her generation, Mickan would become a staple in the Australian Opals team for more than a decade, representing her country at no fewer than five major international tournaments.

At 22 years of age, Mickan would compete at the first of her three FIBA World Championships, establishing herself as a regular in the national team program.

From here Mickan would play 158 times in the green and gold, including as part of the first Opals team to compete at the Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Mickan would continue to represent Australia on the biggest basketball stages at 1983 and 1986 FIBA World Championships, and the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Throughout this period Mickan would be a pioneer in the WNBL, playing 158 games between 1981 and 1989 with the West Adelaide Bearcats and North Adelaide Rockets.

A true servant of the game, Mickan said to be recognised in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame was a truly humbling honour.

“The Australian Basketball Hall of Fame is one of the, if not the highest award that Basketball Australia can give, but I’m not sure that it sits comfortably,” Mickan said.

“At the same time I’m deeply appreciative of the honour.”

Mickan said to see how the Opals have become one of Australia’s most successful national sporting teams brings her enormous pride.

“Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s we were ranked in around 8-10 in the world and then we qualified for 1984 Olympics and finished fifth before coming fourth at the 1988 Olympics,” Mickan said.

“From then there has been a trajectory of the Opals going up and up to becoming World Champions in 2006 and among the best teams in the world.

“I do feel a part of that building process and to see coaches such as Jan Stirling and Tom Maher highlight the past with the present, ensuring the legacy of the Opals is remembered with each new group.”

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally said the contribution of Stirling and Mickan to, not only South Australian basketball, but to the game around the country cannot be understated.

“Jan’s place in Australian basketball history will forever be remembered because of what her Australian Opals team achieved at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Brazil,” Ms Keneally said.

“This memorable win accompanied by two Olympic silver medals, a Commonwealth Games gold and four WNBL Championships has ensured that she will forever be regarded as a coaching great of not only Australian basketball, but Australian sport.

“The contribution of Pat to the identity of the Australian Opals was pivotal in building the culture of success the team enjoys today.

“Only a handful of players have represented the Australian Opals at two Olympic Games and three World Championships, placing her in an elite group.

“We congratulate both Jan and Pat on their pending induction into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.”

Jan Stirling – Background Information

• Head Coach of the Australian Opals from 2001 to 2008, accumulating 173 games (123 wins)
• Two FIBA World Championships – 2002 (Bronze) and 2006 (Gold)
• Two-time Olympian – 2004 (Silver) and 2008 (Silver)
• Coached the Australian Opals to the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal
• 2006 Australian Sports Awards International Coach of the Year
• Member of the Order of Australia (AM) as part of 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours
• Head Coach of the Adelaide Lightning from 1993-2004, accumulating 253 games
• Winner of four WNBL Championships (1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998)
• 1993 WNBL Coach of the Year
• Played 163 WNBL games for the North Adelaide Rockets
• Represented the Australian Opals at the 1975 FIBA World Championships
• Winner of two Halls Medals, back-to-back: 1981 (Forestville) and 1982 (North Adelaide)

Pat Mickan – Background Information

• Played for the Australian Opals on 152 occasions between 1978 and 1988.
• Was part of the first Australian Opals team to compete at the Olympic Games – the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games
• Represented Australia at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games
• Played for the Australian Opals at three FIBA World Championships – 1979, 1983 and 1986
• Played 158 games in the WNBL for the West Adelaide Bearcats and the North Adelaide Rockets between 1981 and 1989
• Columnist for the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper