Construction of Tasmania JackJumpers’ high performance basketball centre held up over red tape

Tasmania’s championship-winning basketball team says it’s open to a re-location of its planned new high-performance facility, as a three-way tug of war over construction intensifies.

The Tasmanian government, who are footing the bill for the build, Glenorchy City Council and JackJumpers basketball team owner Larry Kestelman continue to wrangle over the promised $50 million indoor, multi-sport facility build at Wilkinsons Point in Hobart’s northern suburbs.

Build conditions placed on the development application by the council are the source of the frustrations, with the back-and-forth delaying a start in construction, leaving the JackJumpers without a home base.

The high-performance facility will sit adjacent to Hobart’s Derwent Entertainment Centre.(ABC News: Dan Yeomans)

The red-tape delay has prompted the team to consider a permanent relocation to Kingborough, where it currently trains.

The team’s current arrangement at the Kingborough Sports Centre, 18 kilometres south of Hobart, sees them pay court hire fees and share the use of the facility with local pickleball and futsal teams.

A woman with brown hair and green blazer sitting in front of a trophy

Christine Finnegan says the team want to display their maiden NBL championship trophy at a home base.(ABC News: ABC News)

Centre ‘absolutely freezing’ in winter

JackJumpers chief executive Christine Finnegan told the ABC the existing arrangements were not ideal.

“The facilities aren’t up to professional standards, and I don’t think we’d expect any of our other professional teams to train in facilities that one, they don’t own; and two, that aren’t at the standard our competitors have,” she said.

“The facility in winter is absolutely freezing and I think for a team that is competing with others in professional environments, it puts us on the back foot”.

“We have just won our first NBL trophy for the state of Tasmania and we currently don’t have a place to house it”.

Jack McVeigh training Before Game Four of the final's series

JackJumpers’ Jack McVeigh trains at Kingborough Sports Centre, Kingston.(ABC News: Jake Grant)

Anywhere better than nowhere

The development application for the new indoor multi-sport facility was lodged to the Glenorchy City Council in June last year.

Posted , updated 

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Queer Sporting Alliance boosting gender diversity in sport

In March this year, the Queer Sporting Alliance (QSA) took out the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award at the Victorian Pride Awards.

The QSA is Australia and New Zealand’s largest LGBTIQA+ sporting club, and the award recognises its ongoing efforts to provide queer-friendly sporting environments and events.

They have included Australia’s first and largest queer basketball tournament, which featured more than 180 players from around Australia and took place on Wurundjeri Country in the northern suburbs of Naarm/Melbourne in January 2024.

The QSA’s focus is on participation and creating a space for those who have previously been excluded from sport.

The QSA focuses on creating safe spaces for those who have previously been excluded from sport. (Supplied: Kirsty Marshall)

Some participants had not played basketball in many years before the tournament, and for some it was their first time stepping onto a court.

The tournament, and all QSA programs, welcome queer folk as well as straight allies.

“It was like Mardi Gras but for gays who love sport,” participant Jethro Athlas said.

“It was my dream come true.”

QSA president Stella Lesic said the tournament was significant because it ensured players of any gender identity could participate.

Queer Sporting Alliance President Stella Lesic defends the basketball

Queer Sporting Alliance president Stella Lesic said the tournament did not require players to out themselves.(Supplied: Monique Clarke)

“The tournament didn’t require any player to out themselves [unless they wanted to] or have a referee assume their gender for the purpose of applying mixed/gendered basketball rules,” they said.

“Particularly for players taking steps to gender affirmation or who have experienced transphobia in sport, our tournament and the QLeague are game-changing.

“For the first time in basketball’s history, players could just play.”

Associate professor Ada Cheung is a clinician, scientist and endocrinologist specialising in the treatment of transgender individuals and sees the benefits the QSA brings to the community.

“What QSA does is beneficial, not just for queer people, but for everybody,” she says.

“[At] the grassroots level, there needs to be much more of a focus on participation [for gender diverse people].”

Woman with short hair wearing a red shirt and black jacket, sitting in an office.

Ada Cheung says there should be more focus on the participation of gender diverse people in sport. (ABC News)

Bringing queer people back to basketball

Athlas started basketball at 11 years old and played until they came out as non-binary at 23.

“I felt I couldn’t show up as me with the binary rules of a regular competition and I didn’t have many other queer friends at the time to make a team that felt safe,” they said.

Fellow tournament participant Leigh Seelie had a similar story of dropping out of sport after coming out as trans.

“I played on and off during my adulthood and stopped around four years ago as I started to transition,” she said.

“I did not feel that the captain of my team would accept me as they had made a number of transphobic posts on Facebook.

“I did not find a new team as I was concerned about how people would react to me playing and I did not want to be spotlighted.

“When the [QSA] tournament came up, I was very excited to play … It felt like a great opportunity to play a sport I loved again.”

The referee awards a four point shot in the QSA basketball tournament

Many QSA tournament participants have similar stories of dropping out of mainstream sport. (Supplied: Kirsty Marshall)

While at first Seelie felt “overwhelmed” about playing in the tournament after time away from the game, she said her team made her feel very welcome.

“I felt a huge amount of joy just being able to be me and play a game I loved,” she said.

With more than 1,000 members registered around Australia, the QSA has also seen an influx of straight, cisgender men and women joining the club.

“QLeague is a joy,” QSA regular and ally Greg Craske said.

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Luka Doncic historic shooting masterclass overshadows Aussie v Aussie showdown in Atlanta

From State Farm Arena, Atlanta

When Luka Doncic is in a mood, no NBA team can stop him.

The Atlanta Hawks found that out the hard way, as the Slovenian superstar put on a scoring clinic, becoming just the tenth player in NBA history to produce a 70-point game.

The day after Australia Day, Patty Mills’ Atlanta was taking on Boomers teammates from Dallas in Josh Green, but their involvement on the court was humbled by the might of Doncic, who finished with 73 points as the Mavs won a high-scoring shootout 148-143.

His career-high performance came on the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death, and the Mavericks star knew how special the occasion was, paying tribute to a legend of the game.

“We all love Kobe, I can’t believe that it is four years already, so it’s special – I just wish he was still here” Doncic said.

He had to battle through a double team in the fourth quarter, but even the man himself could not believe how hot he was throughout the game.

“It’s just exciting, sometimes you cannot believe it,” he said.

“It was a record for me, it was special for me, but we were trying to win so to get that as well, was great.

“Maybe after I had 41 in the first half (I knew it was a special night), but you never really know sometimes you feel great other times you don’t. I mean, today in my warmups I missed a lot of shots.”

Green was the only starter of the Aussie contingent and produced a three-pointer in the opening two minutes followed up by a bucket, giving the Mavs 11-7 lead heading into the first time out, just over four minutes in.

Exum entered the game five minutes in, soon followed by Patty Mills, with all three Aussies on the court for a short period. Mills marked his Boomer teammate Exum, but the Hawk’s first stint was less than three minutes, without a stat to his name.

Green was one of the two go-to options for the Mavericks in the first quarter, lighting up the court with a spectacular reverse dunk, before coming to the bench with his second personal foul of the game.

Hawks surged home to finish the first quarter in front, but that’s when Donic got hot, with seven of the first ten points to start the second quarter.

Green took his score to double figures midway through the second, but Atlanta always had the reply, and neither team were able to take away any substantial lead.

Doncic finished a monster first half with 41 points to go along with four assists and five rebounds. To put it in context, Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic was the next top scorer for the half with 15 points.

Dante Exum saw out final seconds of first half after an offensive foul to Derrick Jones Jr that left him with a painful injury. But he and Mills both finished the half scoreless.

Doncic picked up where he left off in the third quarter, with Dallas’ first three of the second half, while Green soon had 15 points.

Exum was not enjoying the same success, missing his second from the field in a row to remain scoreless.

But at the halfway stage of the quarter, the Mavericks had opened up a nine-point lead. As the Slovenian passed 50, Green ended the third quarter with 17 points.

Exum’s first points came late in the third quarter, producing back-to-back buckets to keep Dallas six points clear heading into the final quarter.

Atlanta briefly had the margin back to three in the opening stages of the fourth before the ‘Luka Doncic show’ resumed and even Hawks fans were out of their seats – eight straight points and the quarter was not even two minutes old. 

Showing the confidence of the Mavericks superstar, with his team cruising to the win, he tried a behind-the-back pass to himself, tripped himself over but still managed to keep the ball alive for a teammate.

Hawks rallied late, cutting the lead to within three points in the final two minutes, but Dallas held on in a thriller Exum putting the icing on the cake with a beautiful three-pointer to end the comeback run.

Doncic’s 73 points came at 25/33 from the field including eight three-pointers. In addition, he had 10 rebounds and seven assists.

As good as the individual performance was from Doncic, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd was just as impressed by his all-round team effort, admitting to reporters that “he is the game plan” – but he also knows he can perform even better.

“His ability to make shots, create shots, find open guys, he did that at a high level tonight,” Kidd said.

“He was letting everyone know he was alright, and that we were alright. Being able to get to the free throw line, he made his free throws – it was a complete game.

“You look at the 70 points, but he’s probably thinking about in the locker room (about) the three assists and he could have had a triple-double.

“In the first quarter, I was talking to the coaching staff and I thought he needed to go for 40 or 50 to give us a chance to win.

“Just with the injuries and offence that’s missing, he’s got to carry the load and he understood that – but he gave us that in the first half. Then I thought maybe we shouldn’t be greedy, but we should ask for another 40 to find a way to win.”

Green was awestruck, comparing his teammate’s performance to a video game.

“I have never seen anything like that; it was like I was in a game of 2K – but whoever was controlling him was doing a great job,” the Australian said.

“I looked at (his stats) at half time and he had 40 and I was like ‘damn’, and then I looked again going into the fourth quarter it was like 60 – just ridiculous.

Green made it to 21 points (four assists and two rebounds) and Exum finished with nine points (3 assists).



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NBL Round 2: Wildcats claw past 36ers with late three-point barrage, Doyle delivers as JackJumpers upset Kings

Four late three-pointers despite being ice cold all night were enough for the Perth Wildcats to see off the charge of the Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena for the 82-75 victory.

Despite missing all 14 of their three-point attempts in the first half, Perth were in control of the contest until the winless and under pressure Sixers came out firing in the second half.

They did briefly grab the lead on a couple of occasions led by centre Isaac Humphries (18 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks), but it was huge three-point bombs that iced the game for the ‘Cats.

Despite having gone 2-of-23 up to that point, Bryce Cotton and Corey Webster knocked down one each before expected high NBA draft pick Alex Sarr hit two of them to secure the seven-point home win.

Cotton led Perth’s charge again with 19 points and five assists with Sarr adding 16 points, six rebounds and two blocks, and Jordan Usher 16 points and five boards.

Despite fouling out in just 21 and-a-half minutes, Keanu Pinder added 10 points and seven rebounds with Webster scoring 11 crucial points.

Wildcats coach John Rillie was especially with the responsibility his players took after Sunday’s loss to the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

“This was a great week for our team,” Rillie said. “I had several guys let me know through taking their own accountability for their own performance. 

“So when you have guys who take accountability for what they do, I think you have a chance to have a special team.”

Jason Cadee started for Adelaide and delivered 13 points and four assists with Jacob Wiley contributing 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Trey Kell III 10 points, five boards and four assists. Adelaide coach CJ Bruton took the positives heading into Sunday’s road trip to the defending champion Sydney Kings.

“It’s disappointing again not to come away with a win but if I’m being honest, I thought this game was a little better,” Bruton said. 

“We do some things at the right time and we have some brain freezes other times, but I thought our effort and attention to go get it done in the second half was so much better than where it’s been.”

Even without being able to hit from downtown, Perth appeared in cruise control much of the first half going on a 10-0 run in the first quarter on the way to the 28-17 lead after one.

It remained a 13-point game at the half despite the Wildcats missing all 14 of their three-point attempts but the 10 Adelaide turnovers and 16 free-throws to Perth made up for that.

Eventually Cotton hit the first triple for Perth early in the second half but Adelaide had come out motivated staring down the 0-3 start.

A Cadee three-point play gave the Sixers the lead briefly and it was a tight battle the rest of the way, but ultimately it was three-point shots from Perth that sealed the deal. Cotton and Webster hit one each, and then Sarr hit two of them to give the ‘Cats the win.

Doyle propels JackJumpers past Kings

The poise of Milton Doyle and a surge either side of halftime have boosted the Tasmania JackJumpers to a 80-72 victory over NBL defending champions the Sydney Kings, thrilling home fans.

While Next Star Alex Toohey was superb for the Kings with 14 first-half points and returning 2021-22 MVP Jaylen Adams had 14 points in the third quarter, the JackJumpers had more consistent weapons, with Doyle leading the Friday night charge.

Doyle scored 11 of 14 consecutive points for Tasmania either side of half-time at a soldout MyState Bank Arena and the JackJumpers never trailed again despite the threat posed by Adams.

Tasmania went on to win in trademark fashion, having claimed 20 offensive rebounds to take nine extra shots and four more free-throws, while Doyle finished with 21 points and three assists.

New point guard Jordon Crawford had 15 points and four assists for the JackJumpers, with Jack McVeigh contributing 13 points and six rebounds.

JackJumpers coach Scott Roth was delighted with the response from his team after last week’s first-up loss to the Wildcats in Perth.

“It was more what we expect from ourselves in general,” Roth said. “You have to defend if you want to advance into the playoffs and have the chance to do that, and we came back and showed our colours a little better here.

“To start off obviously at home in this situation and to defend the island was our No.1 goal and to start the season with a home victory is really nice.”

There were encouraging signs for the Kings, especially the second-half form of Adams. He finished with 21 points, four assists and three steals.

Jaylin Galloway continued to grow with 11 points while Jonah Bolden contributed 10 points and eight rebounds in his second game for the Kings following their opening win over Illawarra Hawks.

Bolden hadn’t played professionally since a short stint in the NBA at the Phoenix Suns in February, 2020, but is feeling more comfortable every day.

“Coming back to this level, the game moves a little bit faster than you think and I’m dealing with it a lot better now,” he said. “It’s just that mental part of coming back and getting used to playing in a new system that takes some time.”

Sydney led 19-18 after the first quarter, then it was Toohey who got them going in the second. The 19-year-old hit two threes as he scored eight quick points to help the Kings to a five-point edge.

However, Doyle took over from there for Tasmania.

He scored the last eight points of the half and with the JackJumpers hitting six threes for the second quarter, the home team led 48-40 at the break.

Triples from Crawford and Doyle after Sydney turnovers to start the second half and suddenly the JackJumpers were up by 14, but Adams scored 14 points in the rest of the third quarter to keep the visitors within seven.

Threes from Sean Macdonald and Clint Steindl to start the fourth put Tasmania back up by 13 and they saw out the win strongly.

Taipans beat Phoenix after Cook suffers eye injury

The Cairns Taipans are on the board this NBL season after an 87-80 defeat of South East Melbourne Phoenix, who were rocked by an eye injury to import Tyler Cook.

Swedish-born Next Star Bobi Klintman (15 points, 11 rebounds) shone for Cairns as they seized control about the time Cook left the court in Thursday night’s home game.

The Taipans took a one-point lead just before Cook’s injury in the second quarter and never surrendered their advantage, despite the Phoenix putting up a fight early in the fourth.

Taipans import Patrick Miller (23 points, eight assists) was also important in a win that was only confirmed when Lat Mayen hit two threes in the final four minutes to blow out the lead.

“We were playing great defence, following the game plan, doing what coach wanted us to do and we got the ‘W’ (win). It was good,” Klintman said.

Cairns big man Sam Waardenburg accidentally poked Cook in the eye as the American went up for a shot in the minutes before half-time.

The 26-year-old fell down immediately in intense pain and left the court with the assistance of Phoenix staff.  Cook bled from his eye and reacted badly to eye-drops, so he played no further part in the game.

After the match, coach Mike Kelly was unsure as to the severity of his injury. “I know it hurt him enough to not be able to continue,” he said.

Phoenix captain Mitch Creek appeared to question why no foul was paid, despite the contact from Waardenburg.

“I think one of the mosquitoes from Cairns flew in his eye and he’s getting checked out now,” Creek said. “It doesn’t matter what we think, it doesn’t matter what did or didn’t happen. A man’s … in hospital getting checked out for no reason, really.

“It’s unfortunate, we don’t want to see our players hurt.”

Himself an injury replacement for import Alan Williams (knee), Cook went down after Will Cummings copped a knock in the first quarter and left the court bleeding from his mouth. 

Cummings was able to return later in the match, but with Williams, Cook and Craig Moller (virus) missing, the Phoenix were vulnerable to a Klintman-inspired surge.

The Phoenix had started the second quarter on a 10-1 run, but lost Cook during a 9-0 streak the other way.

Klintman, Cairns’ 208cm NBA draft prospect, nailed a corner three in the second quarter and ripped the ball from Rhys Vague’s hands before tearing away to dunk.

“This is why we were desperate to get him here. He ticks so many boxes for us,” said Taipans coach Adam Forde. “It’s just cool that he’s here and we can be part of his journey so when he becomes big-time, we can say we were there for the start.”

Three-pointers to Gary Browne either side of three-quarter time helped pull South East Melbourne to within four points in the final quarter.

Creek (20 points, eight rebounds) was also big for the visitors, but the gap proved too mighty to close. Reuben Te Rangi fouling out in the final quarter certainly did not help either.

The Taipans’ win comes after they fell to the New Zealand Breakers in their first game of the season, while the Phoenix are now 1-2 ahead of Saturday’s clash with Illawarra. 

Sobey shines as Bullets beat Breakers

Nathan Sobey has starred for the Brisbane Bullets in a nailbiting 89-85 defeat of reigning runners-up the New Zealand Breakers, a victory that confirms positive signs for the long-time NBL strugglers.

The Bullets have not made the play-offs since 2019 and finished ninth last season, but are now 2-0 to start Justin Schueller’s tenure as coach after a physical encounter in Auckland.

Sobey pitched in a game-high 24 points on Thursday night, including a memorable dunk that gave the Bullets a four-point lead on the half-time hooter.

The Boomers representative stood up late with six fourth-quarter points, and by the end of the game he was closing in on a double-double with eight rebounds, as well as six assists.

American Chris Smith stepped back for a deep two-pointer in the final 13 seconds that gave the Bullets a four-point lead and sealed the win. “To be 2-0 to start the season feels great for now,” Sobey said.

“We’ll definitely take the wins and keep building from it, but with the group we have we’re not going to be satisfied.

“We’re hungry, we’ve got a group of guys that just want to get better, hang their hats on the defensive end and get out and play the right way and play for each other. That’s the biggest difference (compared to last year).” 

Neither side held a double-digit lead at any point, though the Bullets felt the better team for long stretches. That was especially true in the first half, when the Breakers were sluggish on the offensive end and foul-prone.

Diminutive American guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (20 points, five assists) backed up an impressive NBL debut by keeping the Breakers in the contest early.

His one-two punch with fellow guard Will McDowell-White looks as though it will be crucial for the Breakers this season. The pair combined for almost half of the Breakers’ points on Thursday (39), but Mitch Norton did a great job quelling Jackson-Cartwright’s influence after half-time.

In the end, the Breakers were left to rue gifting the Bullets 20 points from the free-throw line.

“This is indicative of us playing soft on both sides of the court,” said Breakers coach Mody Maor. “We never played with the appropriate intensity. We’re better than this. We didn’t deserve this win.”

The Breakers are 1-1 to start the season and now travel to America for two pre-season games against NBA teams Portland and Utah next week.

Finn Delany missed the loss to Brisbane with a groin issue and is unlikely to feature on the American trip, which Maor said could be a blessing or a curse for the Breakers.

© AAP



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France’s Tony Parker enters the NBA Hall of Fame: ‘It was an impossible dream’

Legendary French basketball player Tony Parker will on Saturday add another exceptional achievement to a glittering sports career. The former point guard, who has a cabinet full of trophies won playing in the NBA and on the national French team, will become the first French player to be inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame.

Issued on:

5 min

Parker, himself, still can’t believe it. Days before the August 12 ceremony was set to take place at the NBA’s Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, the former player spoke to journalists from French news sites including FRANCE 24 via Zoom.

“When I’m inside the Springfield museum making my speech, then I’ll really realise what’s happening,” he said.

After decades of living in the US Parker’s speech was peppered with Americanisms, even when speaking in his native tongue.

Topics of conversation included Parker’s feelings about being recognised with such an honour and being inducted alongside friends and former rivals such as Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki.

He also reflected on his long career, from his first professional contract at Paris club PSG to winning four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs in Texas, and his unique relationship with coach Gregg Popovich.

Read moreTony Parker enters basketball’s hall of fame: 10 key moments in his career

When you think back to being a young player at INSEP [a French training centre for elite athletes] or your first professional season at Paris club PSG where you spent a lot of time on the subs bench dreaming of playing in the NBA, did you even imagine you’d end up in the Hall of Fame?

Tony Parker: Honestly, no. And yet, I’m the first person to tell my students to always dream big. If you tell someone your dream and they don’t start laughing at you, you’re not dreaming big enough!

Honestly, even in my wildest dreams, I never imagined myself entering the Hall of Fame. When I started my career, basketball was different. It was an impossible dream. No European point guard had ever played in the NBA. There were just no Europeans. Today, getting drafted has almost become normal, but at the time it was quite an event.

[To play in the NBA players must be eligible for ‘the draft’ – a randomised selection process during which teams choose rookie players via a lottery.]

Personally, I just dreamed of playing in the NBA and being the first European to be the MVP [Most Valuable Player] in the finals. Now, being entered into the Hall of Fame is incredible. I can hardly believe it’s happening.

What does it mean to you to be the first French player to enter the Hall of Fame, and to do it alongside two players who are also the first from their country to do so – Spain’s Pau Gascol and Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki?

It’s extraordinary to be the first French player [to do this]. I have always taken my role as an ambassador for French basketball, and sport in general, very seriously. My motivation was always to show the Americans that we knew how to play basketball in France. Being the first French NBA champion and the first to enter the Hall of Fame is the continuation of that.

Entering alongside Pau and Dirk is really an honour. I have a real relationship with both of them. I was there when Dirk’s jersey number was retired from his club [an honour awarded to exceptional players after they retire]. I played with Pau with the Spurs and I’ve known him since I was 14 with all the rivalry there is between France and Spain[’s basketball teams].

When Pau and I were starting out, the Americans thought it was impossible that a European could become a “franchise player” [the top player on an NBA team that the club can build a brand around]. We were the first European players to take charge of our franchises and lead them to titles.

And now when I see that there’s no questions about considering players like [Serbian] Nikola Jokic or [Greek-Nigerian] Giannis Antetokounmpo as franchise players, I see how far we have come.

You are also entering the Hall of Fame alongside Gregg Popovich, who was your coach for almost all of your career. How does that feel? How does your past relationship compare to your relationship today?

It’s a relationship that will always be very special for me. He’s like a second father to me. I was so young when I arrived at San Antonio, I was 19 years old and he took me under his wing. He took a risk as well: he gave the ball to a European point guard. His star player, Tim Duncan, didn’t speak to me for the first season. Popovich took a chance on me and because of that we will be linked forever.

Tim Duncan summed it up well: Gregg Popovich was harder on me than he was on any player in the Spur’s history. But we achieved so much together … It’s almost funny that we’re entering the Hall of Fame together because they could have chosen any year to induct Popovich. I don’t even know if it’s ever happened before that a player enters at the same time as his coach.

Giving your speech will be a significant moment. How is the writing going?

I’m writing on my own and looking back at speeches I’ve made in the past. I’m looking at [speeches by] players who inspired me, like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. I watched speeches by Duncan, Ginobili … I’m taking inspiration from everybody.

I’ve written quite a few speeches in my life. I spoke at Duncan’s jersey retirement ceremony, and Ginobili’s as well. But this is completely different. You’re looking back on your whole life! It’s not an easy thing to do. I think I’ll be really nervous. 

In 2003, you won your first NBA title, in 2013 your first gold medal with the French team, and, in 2023, you’re entering into the Hall of Fame. What is on the cards for you in 2033?

I don’t know. That’s a very good question. Maybe winning the EuroLeague with ASVEL? [the French club of which Parker is a majority owner.]

I was born under a lucky star and I’m very, very grateful for everything that has happened in my life.

I watched the 2003 finals match yesterday with my family and friends. It was so funny to see myself there, at 21-years-old. I wasn’t aware of what I was doing. I got 26 points past [New Jersey Nets point guard] Jason Kidd. I was light years away from realising [the scale of] what I was doing.

I definitely came back down to Earth in the next match when I only scored one out of 10 shots. But when it’s your first title, you don’t understand. It goes so fast. Being an NBA champion at 21-years-old was just incredible.

In 2013, winning the first title with the French team was also something really special. And entering the Hall of Fame in 2023 will be another incredible moment that’s going to stay in my heart forever. I hope that in 2033 I will be able to celebrate something that’s on the same level.

This article was adapted from the original in French.

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Tony Parker enters basketball’s Hall of Fame: 10 key moments in his career

Tony Parker will on Saturday become the first French basketball player to be inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame, one of the greatest honours the sport has to offer. For Parker, the accolade is a crowning moment in an extraordinary career. FRANCE 24 looks back on 10 key moments.

For French basketball fans, 2023 will go down in history as an exceptional year. As Tony Parker ends his legendary career with an entry into the Hall of Fame, newcomer Victor Wembanyama in June became the first French player to be the first pick in the NBA draft.

At 7 feet 4 inches, Wembanyama, a 19-year-old prodigy, could do worse than to look at Parker’s career as an example of how to turn on-court potential into bonafide star power.

Parker is a four-time NBA champion, voted best player in the 2007 final, a six-time pick for the NBA All-Star Game, and a gold, silver and bronze medal winner as part of the French team in the European Basketball Championships.

Along with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, Parker is one of the only four NBA players in playoff history to produce 4,000 points and 1,000 assists.

These remarkable achievements will see Parker inducted into the NBA’s Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday, August 12.

FRANCE 24 looks back on 10 moments that have defined the career of the former San Antonio Spurs’ player No. 9.

A frustrating start

Today, Parker’s career may read as a list of achievements, but as a young point guard he was frustrated by lack of time on the court. Parker signed his first professional contract in 1999 with Paris club PSG Racing, where the 17-year-old was primarily used as a substitute for Laurent Sciarra, point guard for the French national team.

On average he played just 10 minutes per game over the season. He shared his frustration on a blog he was writing for the club’s website.

“This year, Laurent has played one of his best-ever seasons, but the problem is that I don’t only want to play when he is playing badly. I also want to play when he’s doing well. I just want to play regularly and be useful to the team.”

“I see Juan-Carlos Navarro, an 18-year-old point guard I used to play against, plays 10 minutes a game in the Euroleague for FC Barcelona, while he’s on a team with Spanish national team point guard Nacho Rodriguez and Anthony Goldwire – an NBA draftee. I’ve only got one point guard in front of me and I’m not playing. It makes me think that PSG is not a club for young people,” he wrote in February 2000.

In his second season at the Paris club, Sciarra left and Parker became the first-pick point guard for the team. He ended the 2000-2001 season with an average of 14.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.3 steals and 33 minutes on court per match. At 19, Parker was voted the top prospect in the French championship.

A US match that put him on the map

Despite a frustrating first season at PSG, Parker seized the opportunity to shine at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2000. The annual match played in April pits a selection of the best young US players against a team of rising talent from the rest of the world.

Against top US talent, Parker made his mark in the match with 20 ponts, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals, and caught the attention of multiple NBA recruiters at a time when no European point guards had ever played in the American league.

“My main motivation for the match was to prove myself because the Americans were saying, ‘Tony Parker is good, but we’ve never seen him play against the US, maybe he’s afraid and that’s why he is staying in France.’ I wanted to prove to them that I could play against them,” Parker wrote on the PSG blog.

“I think my performance surprised them. After the match there was a lot of interest in me and my father got calls from a lot of recruiters. I know now that I will achieve my goal of playing in the NBA.”


A European juniors title playing for France

Parker was not only committed to playing in the US – a love of playing for the French national team was a hallmark of his career from a young age. In the summer of 2000, Parker won the European title as part of the French Juniors under 18’s team in Zadar, Croatia. Among an illustrious group of young French players including Boris Diaw, Mickaël Pietrus and Ronny Turiaf, Parker was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.

“When we won the Euro Juniors in 2000, I made myself a promise: to come back to the French team every summer until we won the first gold medal in an international competition for the first time in French basketball history,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Tony Parker, au-delà de tous mes rêves” (Tony Parker, Beyond All of My Dreams).


A game-changing coach

Parker’s career would have been undeniably different without the involvement of Gregg Popovich, his coach for 17 seasons at the San Antonio Spurs. When Parker arrived in Texas in 2001, the young French player was talented but had a lot to learn.

Popovich, nicknamed “Pop” by players, saw Parker’s potential to become one of the greats and decided a tough training regime was the way to get him there. Something close to a father-son relationship developed between coach and player.

“[Popovich] is a tough and very demanding coach, but he is also very close to his players,” said Diaw, a former teammate of Parker’s, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

“I remember I spent Christmas Eve in 2002 at Popovich’s house with Tony when I wasn’t yet playing in the NBA. I was already surprised that a player would spend Christmas with his coach. Then at one point during the evening I realised that Pop and Tony had disappeared. I started looking for them around the house, and I found them in the middle of a video session with Pop showing Tony mistakes he had made in his last match. Even on a Christmas evening, he wanted to make Tony improve.”

“Sometimes it was hard when I was 19. I would go back home, and you have tears in your eyes,” Parker said of training with his coach, in a video made by the San Antonio Spurs. “Now that I look back at it, I’m happy that he did that for me because it made me even stronger. He definitely brought the best out in me.”

Popovich will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Parker on Saturday.


Changing technique to reach new heights

Parker’s game was always based on speed, which allowed him to beat opponents, get close to the net and deploy his signature “teardrop” shot (a high arcing shot that helps avoid getting blocked). As a young player, he was less adept at shooting from long or even mid-distance.

Hoping to improve this skill set and become one of the best players in the league, Parker began working with Chip Engelland, a specialist in shooting skills, in 2005.   

“I heard the criticism of my shots and I could see that defenders were really tightening up around me. At some point I had to start making longer distance shots,” Parker wrote in his biography.

“In summer 2005 I spent a month in Los Angeles with [Engelland] doing nothing but shooting. I changed my movement a little; I moved my thumb towards the centre of the ball like when I did my teardrop. I needed to start straighter, so that my hand wasn’t too far back.”

The work paid off. In his first four NBA seasons, Parker had a shooting success rate of 45.3%, which increased to 54.8% in the 2005-2006 season. That same year was the first time he was selected for the NBA’s All-Star Game, gathering the best players across all teams in the league.


Becoming a solo star

Parker hit new heights in the 2007 NBA finals, which saw the San Antonio Spurs face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Parker had played a limited role in the 2003 and 2005 finals, both of which the Spurs had won, but his dominant performance in 2007 marked him out as a star talent.

Over four finals games, Parker averaged 24.5 points with a 56.8% shooting success rate, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 37.8 minutes. He was voted the MVP in the finals, becoming the first European player – and only the second foreign player after Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon – to receive the honour.


‘Parkermania’ takes hold in France

By 2003 France had already seen the impact Parker had on the national game. That summer, he had won his first NBA title and French media rallied behind the star. A record number of around 50 accredited journalists from France attended the European Championships that year.

But it was eight years later that true “Parkermania” took hold in the basketball star’s homeland.

The NBA owners and the NBA Players Association failed to reach an agreement that year, resulting in a lockout that stalled the 2011-2012 season. Many European players returned to play in their homelands during the impasse, including Parker, who in October joined the national championship playing for ASVEL, a team in which he was a minority shareholder, based in the Lyon suburbs.

Parker played seven matches in France resulting in 20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists before he returned to the NBA in November. Each match saw the star playing in front of packed arenas and dozens of journalists – a rarity in France at the time.


Leader of the Spurs’ ‘Big Three’

The three following seasons from 2011 to 2014 saw Parker hit the height of his prowess with the San Antonio Spurs. As well as being a major player in his own right, he was also seen as the leader of one of the most decorated and successful trios in NBA history, the famous “Big Three” along with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

After a six-year absence, the Spurs reached the NBA finals in 2013 facing the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The first match of the finals became a showcase for Parker’s new status in the team. First he took – and scored – the decisive final shot. Then, in the following time out with just seconds left to play, Parker took on – with Popovich’s agreement – the role of coach, giving a final tactical talk to his teammates.

The Spurs eventually lost the 2013 finals to Miami but took their revenge a year later, winning the 2014 finals against the Heat in five games.


A momentous team talk for Les Bleus

While Parker was racking up wins in the NBA, things were going more slowly when he played with the French national team. A bronze medal in the 2005 European Championships was followed by silver in 2011.

It was only in 2013 that Parker kept the promise he made to himself in 2000 and won a gold medal for Les Bleus at the European Championships.

In the semi-finals France were up against Spain, an old adversary they lost to in the 2009 European quarter-finals, the 2011 European finals and the Olympic quarter-finals in 2012.

In 2013 France’s luck looked little better – after the first quarter they were trailing by 14 points. Over to Parker, who gave a momentous speech to the French team, captured in the Canal+ documentary “Délivrance”.

Facing what looked set to be another defeat, France’s star player found the words to galvanise his teammates: “I don’t care what happens in the second quarter – even if we lose – let’s play with pride at least, and let’s play hard. If we lose after that, it doesn’t matter, that’s life. But I would rather go down fighting, not like we are playing now.” 

The speech put France on the path to victory. By the second quarter, Les Bleus were back on track, and they finished the game winning 75 to 72 in extra time. Parker ended the match with 32 points to his name.

France went on to beat Lithuania in the final to win, and Parker added a long-awaited gold medal to his trophy chest.


The Spurs’ No. 9 forever

Parker retired in 2019 at the age of 37 after playing 17 seasons for the San Antonio Spurs (2001-2018) and a final season for the Charlotte Hornets (2018-2019) – whose owner and director, Michael Jordan, was the French player’s childhood hero.

After his retirement, the Texas team where he had spent most of his career also retired the numbered jersey that Parker had worn so that no other player would ever be known as No. 9.

Parker ended his basketball career as one of France and the NBA’s greatest sporting champions. “It went so fast,” he said in a video produced by the San Antonio Spurs to mark the end of his career.

“I never took it for granted … I accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish.”


This article was adapted from the original in French, which will be published on Saturday.

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Isolated in a hearing world: How Deaf basketball changed Jarrod’s life

As a teenager, Jarrod McEwen-Young avoided going to parties.

Profoundly Deaf in both ears, the Gomeroi man found trying to have a conversation among all the other voices and loud music was too stressful.

As one of only two Deaf people in his hometown of Gilgandra, on Wiradjuri country in central western New South Wales, growing up was often a lonely experience.

“It was hard to fit in at times,” he said.

The now 23-year-old lost his hearing after contracting meningococcal meningitis as a baby.

He was raised and educated in a hearing world.

Jarrod McEwen-Young found it hard to fit in when he was young.()

He had encouraging parents and supportive teachers, but it wasn’t until he was picked for the Australian Deaf basketball team that he first felt he belonged among a group of people.

“It was a shock … realising how many Deaf people there are in the world and how they stick together,” he said.

As a child he had surgery to insert cochlear implants — removable devices that provide a sense of sound and help to understand speech.

The implants open a door into the hearing world, but when he discovered other Deaf and hard of hearing people he truly felt at home.

“Being around my teammates, seeing how they went out into the world and could be themselves with confidence [gave me confidence],” he said.

The young man who made coaches proud

It was a support teacher at his school who introduced him to Deaf Basketball Australia.

Initially McEwen-Young played in the Under 21s competition, before trying out for the Australian men’s side, the Goannas.

When coach Brent Reid, known as Stretch, met him he saw right away the young man had a knack for reading basketball, and potential to develop as a player.

“Just on basketball ability we were always going to give him a shot,” he said.

“But here was this kid who wanted to be coached, who wanted to learn, who wanted to grow … you can’t say no to that sort of person.”

Brent aka “Stretch” says he’s very proud of Jarrod.()

When McEwen-Young started training with the Goannas he was shy and — as he puts it —”pretty unhealthy”.

He weighed 130 kilograms, 40 more than his current weight.

“With each training camp he came back fitter and fitter,” Stretch said.

“The more he put in the more he got out of the game and the more opportunities he got.”

Having coached the Goannas for eight years, Stretch, who can hear, has seen many of the players hit major milestones off court too.

“We’ve seen guys get married, buy houses, have children,” he said.

“Guys starting uni, graduating uni, going and getting their first jobs.”

Jarrod credits the Goannas with giving him the self-belief to aim high in life.()

Off court McEwen-Young is studying at university and hopes to return to work on country in either sports science or physiotherapy.

He credits the team with giving him the self-belief to aim high in life.

“[Stretch] coaches me on court but he’s always teaching me things off court as well,” he said.

“When the coaches picked me that gave me some confidence that someone else had confidence in me … and I wanted to repay them by getting in the best shape possible for the next tournament.”

The ‘dead silent’ game of Deaf basketball

To qualify for the Australian Deaf Basketball teams, players must have hearing loss of 55 decibels or more.

With this level of hearing loss a person might only just be able to pick up that someone is talking, because most conversations are held at about 60dB.

During Deaf basketball, athletes communicate using sign language.()

Stretch said apart from having to communicate visually, the biggest difference between Deaf and hearing basketball was the quietness.

“You go to a [hearing] game and everyone is screaming at each other,” he said.

“You go to our game and it’s dead silent; even when someone scores a basket the Auslan sign for cheering is a [wave of the hands].”

For the most part the mechanics of Deaf basketball are similar to the hearing version.

Before hitting the court athletes remove their cochlear implants and other hearing aids to ensure the playing field is level — that is, no-one can hear.

The Goannas will be playing in the 2023 World Deaf Basketball Championships next week.()

During the game, players need to be looking for signals from the coach and referee in international sign language, observing everyone’s next move and watching for lights that flash when the whistle is blown.

Instructions and strategy notes are written on a whiteboard and athletes communicate using sign language.

Teammate Sam Cartledge said it wasn’t overly tricky to have all eyes on the court because it was a life skill Deaf people were familiar with.

“It’s what we do in everyday life,” he said.

“If someone’s talking, we need to work out who’s talking and what they’re talking about and then someone else speaks and you have to navigate to where they are.”

Goannas a ‘Deaf family’ as well as a team

Born Deaf and receiving a cochlear implant as a toddler, Cartledge also experienced social isolation growing up.

“It was hard at lunchtime at school, I tended to withdraw, I would go and play sports as a coping mechanism,” he said.

“Then when I found the Deaf basketball team just the fact they were the same as me, had the same experiences … it just meant I could socialise with them and share those experiences.”

Sam Cartledge says the Goannas have become his best friends.()

When the ABC met up with the Goannas they were preparing to head off to the 2023 World Deaf Basketball Championships on the Greek island of Crete, where they’ll play against Venezuela, China and Greece.

Cartledge said the tournament was not just a sporting event, but also a celebration of community.

“They are my Deaf family, they’re my best friends,” he said.

“I don’t know where life would be without this group of boys.”

Jarrod McEwen-Young felt truly at home when he found Deaf basketball.()

McEwen-Young feels the same.

“Joining the team changed my life,” he said.

“It’s opened so many doors for me not just on the basketball court but off court as well in life and I’m pretty grateful to have this [overseas] experience with these guys… it’s amazing.”

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How golf’s ‘Quadzilla’ Kurt Kitayama went from NBA hopeful to a PGA Tour champion | CNN



CNN
 — 

Tigers, great white sharks, and hawks; in terms of nicknames, golf thought it had the top of the food chain covered.

That was until the king of the monsters – “Quadzilla” – roared onto the scene in March.

Victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational sealed a first PGA Tour title for Kurt Kitayama, securing him $3.6 million in prize money – almost doubling his eight-year earnings on Tour in a single paycheck.

Fortunately for the American, he has big pockets. At least that is according to fellow pro Xander Schauffele, who dubbed his compatriot “Quadzilla” in honor of his imposing thigh muscles when the duo played together on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2016.

These days they are smaller, Kitayama insists, but that has not stopped him from embracing the name that has gone viral since his maiden triumph.

“You could tell the pants were fitting tight, he called me out on it,” Kitayama told CNN’s Don Riddell.

“When Xander and I were playing on the Korn Ferry Tour they got pretty big … I got a little overweight I’d say.

“Also when I was working out, the one thing I loved doing was squatting. So I used to do it a lot and that was the only thing I lifted pretty much.”

Yet it is a much older nickname that best epitomizes Kitayama: “The Project.”

Bestowed upon him while he cut his teeth as a college golfer, it is a title that reflects how much he had to improve, as well as capturing the hard work and perseverance that drove Kitayama along a long and winding road to his first PGA Tour win – two months on from his 30th birthday.

A talented junior basketball star despite his diminutive 5-feet 7-inch frame, a young Kitayama harbored dreams of the NBA, not the PGA. As starting point guard for the Chico Blazin’ Heat, the Californian led his high school team to two Northern Section titles before hoop dreams took a back seat to golf.

“(Basketball) was my favorite sport growing up … that was probably the dream until I realized I wasn’t going anywhere with that,” Kitayama said.

“When I got to college, golf really was the only focus.”

Kitayama took an unconventional path to professional golf.

At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Kitayama enjoyed success on a renowned golf program, yet his early trajectory was a far cry from the breakneck rises of prodigious amateurs like Tiger Woods and Tom Kim.

Having “struggled” through his first two seasons, it wasn’t until his senior year that Kitayama even gave himself a chance at making it pro. In 2015 that aim was realized, but three years later – having played mostly on the PGA Tour’s developmental Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) – he was still floating outside the top 1,000 in the world golf rankings.

Yet 2018, spent on the Asian Tour, would prove to be a turning point. Having secured his spot on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour) via qualifying school in November, by March 2019 he had become the fastest player in history to tally two European Tour wins after victories at the Mauritius Open and Oman Open respectively.

Kitayama toasts his Mauritius Open victory at the Four Seasons Golf Club in December 2018.

By the year’s end, he was inside the world’s top 75 players. In September 2021, a long climb to the top of the sport was completed when a tied-11th finish at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship rewarded a 28-year-old Kitayama with his PGA Tour card.

Late bloomer? “It just happened that way,” he reflected.

“I’ve just always looked at getting better each year and not thinking too far ahead; just continue to keep moving up.

“Hard work has gotten me to where I am now … When I’m doing something that I really want to do, I’m willing to put in the work and sacrifice social time with friends or something to get better.”

By the time he arrived in Orlando for his 50th PGA Tour start – and event debut – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Kitayama had risen to world No. 46, yet a first win remained agonizingly elusive.

On three occasions in 2022, Kitayama had finished runner-up to some of the game’s best players by a single stroke: first to US Open champion Jon Rahm at the Mexico Open, then to world No. 7 Schauffele at the Scottish Open, and again to four-time major winner Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup.

Kitayama looked on course for his most agonizing near-miss yet when, approaching the ninth tee with a two-shot final round lead at Bay Hill, a drive out-of-bounds spiraled into a triple bogey.

Kitayama looked to be sliding out of contention after a disastrous 9th hole.

Six consecutive pars signaled a strong response, yet Kitayama and four others shared the lead with three holes remaining. By the finish, just two strokes would separate the top seven players.

“I feel like I was able to keep it pretty level all the way through, even after the triple,” Kitayama recalled.

“But looking back at it and seeing how that leaderboard changed so much, it was crazy really, it was so up-and-down. I was talking to my friends back home; they were pumped but then they were also so nervous watching it.”

A 14-foot birdie putt at the 17th nudged Kitayama ahead before a stunning 50-foot effort at the final hole left the American with a simple tap-in for his first Tour win.

A beaming Kitayama brought the trophy to his winner's press conference.

Having used the experience of his three-runner up finishes to navigate the tense denouement, it was fitting that Kitayama finished one shot ahead of his CJ Cup heartbreaker, McIlroy.

The Northern Irishman was among the first to congratulate the new champion, embracing Kitayama shortly after his closing putt.

“I’m really happy for Kurt. He’s been playing well for a while now and I’m happy to see him get his first win,” McIlroy told reporters.

“He’s persevered and played wherever he could get starts and all of a sudden he’s won one of the biggest events on the PGA TOUR, so good for him.”

Victory rocketed Kitayama to a career high world No. 19 and made him the first player to win on his Arnold Palmer Invitational debut since Robert Gamez 33 years ago.

His life since has been, in a word, “chaos.” After a landslide of media duties and sponsor interest, Kitayama is looking forward to getting back to golfing.

“It’s a new experience and something I’m going to figure out how to handle and see how it affects my play,” he said.

“I’m just going to keep trying to improve and keep trying to keep getting better to put myself in that situation more often – trying to become a more consistent player.

“A lot’s going to change though, I’m just going to have to get used to it.”



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Yuta Watanabe comically dunks into his own net as Brooklyn Nets’ woes continue | CNN




CNN
 — 

The Brooklyn Nets have made a terrible start to the NBA season and on Saturday star forward Yuta Watanabe didn’t make matters any easier by comically scoring in the opposite team’s basket.

At the Barclays Centre, the Nets went down 125-116 to the Indiana Pacers to go 1-5 for the season. It was the Nets’ fourth straight loss and one coach Steve Nash called a “disaster.”

The night started ominously when, in the first quarter, Watanabe accidentally scored for the Pacers. When Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard went to shoot, the ball ricocheted off the rim and onto the backboard, James Johnson and Goga Bitadze of the Pacers went for the rebound, as did Watanabe, who got to the ball first and dunked it in.

The comical two-pointer cut the Nets’ lead before the Pacers tied at the end of the first quarter.

As the Pacers pulled away from the struggling Nets, rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored a career-high 32 points in a team record 23 three-pointers.

Elsewhere, Jalen McDaniels scored five key points in overtime as Charlotte Hornets recovered after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to beat visiting Golden State Warriors 120-113.

Domantas Sabonis scored all 18 of his points in the first half and Sacramento Kings stunned visiting Miami Heat 119-113 for coach Mike Brown’s first win at his new home.

Joel Embiid scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures and James Harden registered a double-double of 15 points and 11 assists to boost visiting Philadelphia 76ers to a 114-109 victory against Chicago Bulls.

And Milwaukee remained the NBA’s only unbeaten team with a 123-115 win over Atlanta. Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo both scored 34 points.



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