I wanted to put on record my joy at the return of one of the most famous names in British Basketball and I wanted to pass on my very best wishes to Jeff and the new Directors, the players, the staff, the volunteers and the fans. Let’s hope this is the start of something BIG!
Over the last few days a fantastic discussion has been going on on Twitter as fans of the Giants speculate as to who the All-Time Giants top 5 would be.
Well having seen all incarnations of the Giants since the late 70s I thought I would have a go. However I am not going to limit myself to 5 and I am going to suggest my top 10 Giants of all time and a coach and GM as well.
So let’s start at the point guard position and this could be the toughest call of them all. Having seen him from his arrival in the BBL for the Sheffield Sharks the first name to consider must be Travis Conlan. I saw Travis’ first game in Scotland in 1998 and I immediately knew that the Sharks had once again found a real gem.
Offensively he was an absolute giant dishing up assists and taking it to the rack when he felt like it. However it was his defensive duties that really stood out for me. His long arms were just about everywhere and opposing players had a heck of a job just getting the ball up the court. So is Travis Conlan the first name on the list? No!
I’m afraid he does make the mikeshaft.com All-Time Giants Top 10, but he is coming off the bench. My starting guard is one Virgil Kennedy. Virgil was one of the most awesome point guards I have ever had the pleasure to see. I remember the game in which he scored I think it was 7 triples to bring the Giants back from 21 down. We tied the score but lost the game.
Virgil Kennedy was the real deal and I am not sure I ever got to see his like in the BBL again. I think Cameron Johnson, Robbie Peers and Ronnie Baker also deserve a mention here but they do not make the team.
So on to the 2 guard or the shooting guard as we would say. This is less difficult for me as I think the starting number 2 stands out from the rest. There are a number of names to consider including Jason Swaine, but I think for all-round play my starting number 2 is John White.
John was a sensational player who could shoot the lights out, but, in my opinion, his decision making wasn’t always the best. Meant he took some rubbish shots when other possibilities were better but with Virgil next to him, John wouldn’t get away with that.
But who would cover that position well there are a number of possibilities but I think Mark Robinson would be in that position. I loved Mark’s game and he was another very smart player who could bring out the best in the other players around him. Mind you he was sometimes a bit forceful in his demands of other players.
So we have the first 4 of the 10 so let’s move on to the other positions.
For years there has always be discussions in basketball as to whether a player is a 2 or a 3 and it is a discussion that is never fully going to be resolved. So I am just going to call them as I see them.
At the forward position I have to admit I am struggling with this. Was Jeff Jones a 2 or a 3? Should he have started at the 2 position? Man this is going to be tougher than I thought. I know this, I want him on the floor when the ball goes up but I can only have 5. Does that mean I miss out on Tony Dorsey in the starting 5?
Starting at the 3 spot is Tony Dorsey.
I think that in all the years I have been watching basketball in the UK, Tony Dorsey has been my favourite player. It may have been all about the timing as I was working at Birmingham when he joined the team and I saw him up close and personal. He could do it all and led the team to 2 championships in his time there.
So Dorsey makes the starting 5 and Jeff Jones starts on the bench. Sadly I also have to leave out Kevin St Kitts and Kevin Penny. These would have been 2 awesome players to have on my team.
The next position is going to be tough in some ways and easy in others.
At the 4 position there is only one name to make the starting 5 and that is Vince Brookins. Vince was a monster who could do it all. Believe me he could play any position from 1 to 5 but his best position was the 4. On his day he was simply unstoppable . Vince had a heart as big as a house and could keep playing all night long if that’s what it took to win.
So why is this a difficult decision well its because of the players I would have to leave out.
No we are back to the decision of is he a 4 or a 5? Well my covering player starting on the bench is Trevor Gordon. Some will say he is a definite 5 but I think Trevor was one of the original power forwards. Another one of the players you must have in the squad if you are picking an all-time Giants team.
And so on to the final 2 picks, starting and back-up centre. Oh my goodness.
I like to describe my centre as someone who could play with his back to the basket, who could play down low and who was going to have to be fouled if he was going to be stopped.
There are loads to choose from including Danny Craven, Tony Holley, Kenny Pemberton, Makeba Perry, Dave Gardner, Jason Fogarty and Craig Robinson. My choice for starting centre is Danny Craven with Dave Gardner on the bench. Danny Craven was a monster who backed down to nobody and who could get the job done. It was a close call between him and Dave Gardner but Danny gets my nod and Dave Gardner starts on the bench.
I know there will be lots of discussion about these choices and I am sure you have you own but I know this. If these 10 players were in a team together, I would be at every practise that took place.
The coaching position is another difficult one which is not difficult at all. My head Coach would be Kevin Cadle, still the best in the business in my opinion but it means that guys like Jeff Jones, Nick Nurse, Jimmy Brandon, Tom Becker and Mike Hanks miss out but that’s the way it is.
Finally the best General Manager (GM). There is no competition for this spot. Rick Taylor is it and nobody else comes even close. Rick was another gem that some people didn’t recognise to be the giant that he was. I have often wondered where British Basketball would be now if Rick had been made Commissioner of the League back in the day.
In my opinion it was a sad day for the Giants when Rick was forced out of the job as GM and that, also in my opinion, was also a sad day for the British game.
So the new Giants take to the floor this week with some new and some more familiar names in the legendary Green. I wish them well.
There is a lot of history to live up to but in the hands of one of the true legends of the British game, Jeff Jones I think that the Giants name is secure for years to come.
Game 1 – BBL Championship
Manchester Giants v London Lions
Wright Robinson College Manchester
Tip off 7:30
Visit the Giants website – Here
The full list
On the Bench
Head Coach – Kevin Cadle
General Manager – Rick Taylor