Firstly let me welcome you here today to celebrate the man himself…Garnet Gayle.
I have known Garnet for decades and have seen him play all over the place. I know that I am not going to get all of these right but I know he played at Leicester, Nottingham, Derbyshire, Manchester Giants, Sheffield Sharks and of course Sheffield Saints…his final club.
There are many legends of the British game but it has to be said that most of them are of American origin. Well I can tell you that Garnet Gayle is a legend of the British Game and he is all British.
Now I have to admit that finding information on Garnet is like looking for a needle in a haystack blindfolded. Of course I cannot ask him because hopefully, he knows nothing about this event.
He was born in 1964, plays the point guard position and he checks in at 6ft 1in.
But it would seem that basketball was not Garnet’s first choice of sport. Garnet was shaping up to be a footballer until he had a run-in with legendary football coach Brian Clough. Garnet then decided that football was not the sport for him.
He then turned to basketball after trying out some other sports.
As a player Garnet was hard as nails and that was what coaches loved about him. He played for coaches like Jimmy Brandon who I am sure saw themselves in him from a bygone age.
As a player and a coach Garnet always gave referees a hard time but it was only when he felt they had got something wrong.
The last time I saw him play was at Leeds Carnegie and I know he won’t like me reminding him of this but with the clock running out on the game his team trailed by 1.
Garnet had the ball in the low post and went up for a regulation lay-up for the win.
The ball rolled around the rim of and…OFF.
Carnegie won the game.
Now people who know me know that I love great speaking voices…people who speak with a rhythm.
This is from mikeshaft.com.
“I do not think that Garnet Gayle ever played in the NBA but he did play in the McDonalds’ Tournament back in the day under Head Coach Jimmy Brandon. I remember I was working at SKY Sports at the time and our regular floor managed was invited to work on the international broadcast sending the game back to the US.
When I arrived he spotted me and told me that he had a seat for me at the end of the commentators table. I was absolutely made up but that wasn’t the best of it he then handed me a pair of headphones which had the commentary that was being sent back to the States.
It was truly wonderful.
One of the best bits was his pronunciation of the name Garnet Gayle.
It was pure poetry.”
I asked Garnet’s one-time teammate Todd Cauthorn for a few words about the man himself. He said, ” Garnet was a tremendous competitor. I was always glad he was playing with me rather than against me, mind you he was always quick to tell you if he felt you weren’t pulling your weight.
Many people now playing basketball in the Sheffield area are doing so because of Garnet Gayle and he has had a tremendously positive effect on the sport in this area over the past 6 years.”
Seeing Garnet grow up in basketball over the years has been an absolute joy for me.
I hope he has a wonderful retirement but somehow, I don’t think our referees have heard the last of Garnet Gayle.
All Photos – Ian SMITH