But, it became one of the most historic games in the history of The British Basketball League the moment that Eagles Player/Coach Fabulous Flournoy stepped from the bench on to the hardwood.
For in doing so, Flournoy registered the 541st game of his BBL career and thus set a new league record for the most appearances by any player in the league’s history. And almost typically of the man and his team, it was achieved with a gritty, workmanlike display and win based on the defensive philosophies that Flournoy preaches.
After the game Flournoy spoke at length about the record, his feelings on achieving it and his thoughts on The BBL past and present and being such a part of the whole set-up.
“It was just another day. Its fantastic from a standpoint of being able to do it after being around this long and equally being in a team and with a club for so long. Obviously a lot of players go from one team to another team but I’m proud of the fact that my career has been pretty much in one place.”
“With the exception of four great years at Birmingham and one great year at Sheffield and then everything here at Newcastle. I learned a lot and need to pay homage to a lot of the coaches that came before me. And showed the way for me.”
“Chris Finch and Nick Nurse, Kevin Cadle, Jim Brandon, Bob Donewald, Billy Mimms, there were so many great coaches in this league that I learned a lot from. Tony Garbelotto was a little bit different. I often don’t see Tony as a coach. He is a great coach but I see him more as a friend as I have a personal relationship with Tony.”
“Probably one of my greatest regrets is that I never got to really play for him as I got injured when he first brought me in to Newcastle and I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. The truth of the matter is that it was Chris Finch and Tony G that did the deal to bring me to Newcastle.”
“I wanted to go back to Sheffield with Chris and we talked about it but he said that Tony had made an approach to him and he was honest enough to tell me that he thought Tony would be a great coach for me. I said ok, they talked together and agreed the deal and the rest is pretty much history.”
“I want to thank them and I also want to thank Peter Scantlebury too. Pete will always be Mr Basketball to me and to pass his record is really something. I had a great opportunity to play for him and enjoyed that. Nigel Lloyd The Lord, he taught me a lot about The BBL about being in basketball and how to be a pro. And he’s a great friend to this day.”
“Then Clive Allen who’s more like a father to me. He took me in and made sure I was okay and he taught me about the league too and about community, the Big Sky School of Basketball, and teaching me how to develop the grassroots which I do know in a huge way at Newcastle.”
“There are just so many people that I learned so much from. Tony Dorsey, Terrell Myers, Nate Reinking all of whom I played with. I played with and against some great players and then obviously there’s my career at Newcastle.”
“These players are close to my heart. Charles Smith, Jeremy Hyatt, T J Walker who’s like a brother to me, Lynard Stewart the best big man I’ve seen in the BBL and obviously Darius Defoe who’s been with me pretty much all his career and who I’ve seen go from rookie to seasoned pro and Andrew Bridge without a doubt.”
“There’s just so many people I have to pay tribute and homage too. Equally so that includes the fans who have been fantastic to me. I’m not just talking about the Newcastle fans I’m talking about The BBL fans. Whoever you are, wherever you are you’re there supporting your team and supporting your Club.”
“Even when at times it gets a bit dirty or when we’re slinging mud at each other the truth of the matter is it’s just that so many people are passionate about their team and their club. I really am truly humbled by that and respect that. The support that is there for their teams and me playing here so long and seeing all that great support from them and the passion they show for their clubs is a testament to the league and all it means.”
“They are there day in and day out. Everyone talks about how much the league has changed and is changing and the league is this and the league is that but you can say what you want but our league is here and has been here for a number of years. Me as a player being here so long, the fans being with their clubs so long and the owners keeping their clubs running are all a testament to that and they’re a credit to themselves, their clubs and their respective cities.”
“I gotta say thank you to all BBL coaches. I don’t want to forget some like Robbie Peers when he was at Chester, Mike Burton, John Lavery and Paul Smith they’ve done so much for their club. Then here at Glasgow I give a lot of credit to Sterling Davis. A lot of people don’t see what you have to go through as a Player/Coach and what you have to put up with. Being in that position for so long and seeing it for so long its tough but at the same time its a huge honour to be able to do it.”
“Paul James without a doubt having a huge resurgence. He did such great work as a coach down at Guildford Heat and before that at Thames Valley and obviously now at Worcester. I think he’s really underrated in the fact that he’s been around for so long and not just as a coach. He played with Nigel Lloyd for instance.”
“A lot of people forget about how long he’s been around this league and I’d like to pay homage to him. Then you have the newer coaches coming along like Robbie Paternostro who deserves a lot of credit for the way he’s made the transition and built Leicester in to what they are.”
“I’d like to say thank you to everyone and I hope that I’ll miss out in these thank you’s but its important to everyone that I’ve come across that I say thank you to them all as they’ve all played their part in this record. Players like Colin Irish, Alan Cunningham, Alton Byrd they’ve all done so much.
John Amaechi whether you like him or not he has his way and I was there at that Trophy Final when he made that ridiculous shot at The NEC playing for Sheffield to win the game.”
“There’s so many people that have their imprint on The BBL and on me. It’s humbling the fact that I’ve been around that long and that I’m still able to play and I’m still able to give back to a sport, a club and a country that I love so much.
I love the sport. I love the people around it, I love the fans and I’m truly, truly humbled and amazed to be able to say its 541 and that can’t be taken away from me but more importantly that can’t be taken away from the league in itself because its been there for me to do it.”
“Look at Pete Scants before me, Tony Holley, look at Robert Youngblood, Eric Burks, Trevor Gordon, Tony Sims, John White, Danny Lewis, Dan Davis, there’s just so many people.
I remember when Vince Macaulay was at Hemel Hempstead and going back there I remember Derby and the Buntons and Greg Wire. Then there was Russ Saunders, an incredible player.”
“I gotta give a big shout out to a big voice in The BBL, Mike Shaft. There’s just so many people and I feel that I have to do a little bit about when I started as I don’t want to leave anyone out but unfortunately I will and that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them or remember the part they played. It being 541 people only really started talking about it now but I remember those early days and want to give those shout outs. If me talking about it helps bring to the forefront the history of The BBL and the players then so be it.”
“My achievement is their achievement.”
“Todd Cauthorn, I think about him and what he’s done since he came here and continues to do. Big Voicey, Voicey Winters who I played with at Sheffield and still comes to games. I gotta shout to Yorick Williams as I’ve seen him since he was a young boy and he’s still around. Tony Windless is another that’s made his home here and there’s so many legends in the history of The BBL.”
“The only thing that I feel sorry about is that the league hasn’t gotten got together a Hall of Fame for its players. The league hasn’t had an opportunity to cherish the players. I know they keep stats and records but they haven’t so far recognised the players behind that. You’ve got to know your history.”
“That’s the one thing that Nigel Lloyd, Clive Allen and Tony Dorsey drilled in to me when I first came over way back in 95/96 was the fact that they taught me the history of the BBL. I can tell you about players and what happened in the league before I got here. Players like Gene Waldron and there’s so many others and I’m just humbled that I followed them and have got to do what I’ve done.”
“We’ve know tragedy too along the way. Brian Dux, Casey Arena which we have to remember and think about but then we’ve had so many that have come through and done so much for the league. Those that I’ve already mentioned.
Others like Ted Berry, John McCord, Pero Cameron these are all guys that helped basketball in this country in general and helped to keep it established. And kept it going and I’m humbled if I’ve played my part in that.”
“I won’t ever forget first coming over here. I won’t ever forget the wins and the losses that I’ve had. Throughout the whole of my career its just astonishing that I was able to see so much and be around so many, I won’t even say great players as that would be an injustice, but good people on and off the court.”
“The table officials, the referees that have come and gone and those that are still here. We lost Ian Pollard to cancer its people like that, that you remember. Roger who’s just retired, Richard Stokes and I give a lot of respect to someone like Alan Richardson.
“One day I’m going to sit down and right a big thank you to all the people in and around British Basketball who put so much in to making this sport great and the pride and commitment they give to it and the joy that they show for the sport.”
“I don’t think basketball is properly recognised throughout and if my record gives me the chance to say it then I’m going to say it.
Please forgive me for all the ones that I’ve left out as obviously I’m doing this interview off the top of my head.
It’s just truly humbling and fantastic that like me or not, appreciate me or not, I’d just like to thank all the fans across The BBL, all the owners and all the clubs for doing what they do to make this league the best league that it can possibly be.”
“There’s no shots or pops at anyone its just me being around this long that I feel I can say this to all the players, all the officials, to grassroots, to the basketball community and everyone involved with The BBL that makes it such a privilege for me to be a part of it.”
It’s fair to say there are few that can speak from the heart the way that Flournoy does and it really comes across how much The BBL and his life in basketball means to him. As the Newcastle OOTA sing, ‘They Call Him Fab ‘Cos He’s Fabulous.’
Story – BBL / Newcastle Eagles
Photos – Various
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