It is really great to hear from people from back in the day that get in touch to say how much they enjoyed the music I used to play back then or how they remember their first basketball game when I did the commentary.
Well this week after a night out I arrived home and thought I’d check my e-mails before going to bed. To my amazement there was an e-mail from Bobby Kinzer.
Now Bobby Kinzer is one of the greatest players ever to have played in the UK and he is the sort of guy we should be listening to when he speaks about our game. That he should write to me is quite incredible.
I am getting in touch with him for permission to publish the whole e-mail on mikeshaft.com but I will quote some of it here.
He mentions some of the great teams we have had in the past and some of the truly great players who have played in the UK. He talks about, “Crystal Palace (London) with the great Alton Byrd, Pete Jeremich and Mark Saiers.
Team Fiat (Birmingham) with Greg White (who was a total man child) and Steve Asindor, Vince Brookins of Manchester, Marvin Johnson, Team Solent, Jimmy Brandon and Art Ware of Sunderland, and Bob Martin (one of the greatest shooters in EBL history) to name a few.”
The main question that he poses is what has happened to the potential that our game had in the past and what has made it fail. I have asked for years why we cannot grow the game in this country.
Back in the day many teams were playing in arenas; teams like Sheffield Sharks, Manchester Giants, London Leopards, Birmingham Bullets, London Towers etc. etc. etc. The game was on Sky Sports and at times on the BBC and the future was looking bright.
Most of these arenas still exist but unfortunately some of the teams don’t exist and others are now playing in smaller venues.
There has been some development in recent years with the success on and off the court of Newcastle Eagles and with the arrival of the Everton Tigers. The continued growth of Plymouth Raiders is also something that should be applauded.
In his e-mail Bobby Kinzer admits that football will always be number 1 in the United Kingdom but he finishes by saying this, “It is my hope that the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears made by the forefathers of the EBL game do not go in vain!”
On mikeshaft.com there are a series of pages of photographs where we pay tribute to people who make and made British Basketball the joy that it is. Hopefully in the coming months all of the great players, and individuals will be shown the respect they deserve.
There can be no greater respect shown to the legends of the past however than that we grow this game to become one of the top sports across this country.
It can be done but we must listen to people who know how to do it. The Olympics should be the peg to hang this success on but time is running out.
If we again fail we will have no-one to blame but ourselves.
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