On Thursday 12th May 2005, a unique and remarkable
chapter in the history of Australian sport was concluded at a
special media conference at the home court of the Melbourne Tigers.
The father and son duo of Andrew
and Lindsay Gaze announced their retirement. Although both will
continue to be active within the Tigers organization, their decision
to retire as player and coach respectively will have a profound
effect on not only the Melbourne Tigers but also basketball in
after 22 years with the Melbourne Tigers, Lindsay and Andrew
Gaze have announced their retirements as coach and player.
Their departure will leave a huge gap in Australian
Lindsay's contribution to
Australian basketball is immeasurable. In a career spanning almost
50 years, he represented Australia as a player at three Olympics,
coached the National team at four more Olympics plus three World
Championships, and coached the Melbourne Tigers for 22 consecutive
seasons in the National Basketball League (NBL), winning
championships in 1993 and 1997.
However, this particular tribute
will concentrate more specifically on the career and achievements of
Lindsay's son, Andrew. In a long and illustrious career,
Andrew achieved almost everything possible in basketball. Seven NBL
MVP awards, 14 scoring titles, the all-time NBL leader in points,
assists and games, five Olympic Games including two as captain, four
World Championships, NCAA Championship runner up with Seton Hall
University and one NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs. All
that and more!
Sports Card World salutes the man
affectionately known as "Drewey". A sportsman who became
one of Australia's most recognizable and loved sporting heroes. We proudly present this simple
tribute to an absolute legend of Australian sport.
A rare and unique Aussie superstar! ............ Andrew
The announcement on 12th May 2005
did not come as a bombshell, nor did it catch anyone by surprise.
Speculation about the impending Gaze retirements was rife even before the Melbourne Tigers
departed on their China tour in late April.
Then, in the first week of May, it was no secret that key figures in basketball
were trying desperately to persuade Andrew to continue for one more year. Andrew had also come under considerable pressure from Chinese based
white-goods manufacturer, Haier. A substantial sponsor of the
Melbourne Tigers, Haier had invested just as heavily in the Gaze
name as it had in the Tigers. Andrew had not only become a household
word and an instantly recognizable sporting personality in Australia, but he had also become
the face of Haier in China.
Lindsay and Andrew pictured on 12th
decision simply came down to the fact that the mind was willing but
the body wasn't. Speaking at a press conference in the Gaze Lounge
of the Tiger's home venue, Andrew said he had decided to retire
because of the toll playing had taken on his body.
"I've been backwards and forwards about retiring since the end of the season.
I've had dad and a lot of other people trying to talk me into playing another
year, but that's it. For me it's been more of a difficult decision, because my
desire has always been to keep playing. I would love to keep playing as my
mind's willing to keep playing but it pains me not to be able to keep playing at
this level. But you get to a point where you think about your own wellbeing.
Because I started very, very young and I'm finishing very, very old there's a
lot of wear and tear on the body that just makes it difficult to physically get
recollections of dreaming and imagining something heroic (as a child) was
hitting the winning basket for Australia to win a medal at the Olympic Games.
Because of those dreams that you have, when you eventually get there and get
that opportunity to do that.... it's very, very special. Representing Australia
would definitely be one of the highlights."
Gaze senior joked that his
retirement had been the subject of much speculation as far back as 1992, and
it had become something of an annual event ever since. When asked if
he was a proud father, his mood changed quickly. Lindsay, normally
not noted for lavish outbursts of public praise said, "My
departure will be hardly noticed, but you cannot possibly imagine
the difference, the chasm that will be left in the game without
Andrew. When you go through the history of his performances, and try
to compare it with any other outstanding individual sports
achievement, especially in the team concept, I struggle......"
As Gaze senior spoke about his
son's achievements, the emotions welled up inside Andrew and he
struggled to hold back the tears. The accolades from his father and
long time mentor were almost too much. Perhaps too, the reality of
retirement was just beginning to sink in.
Overall, the Gaze press conference
was so typical of the way the Gaze family had conducted itself on
and off the court for almost fifty years......effective, straight to
the point, dignified, and down to earth......... with little fanfare and
heaps of sincerity. It was a fitting and appropriate way for father and son to depart.
Andrew Barry Casson Gaze was born
on 24th July 1965 in Melbourne, Victoria. His parents, Margaret and
Lindsay Gaze lived at Albert Park, just a few kilometres from the
central business district of Melbourne. Lindsay was already a dual
Olympian when Andrew was born, having represented Australia as a
player at the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was also Manager
of the Victorian Basketball Association and lived with his family in
a residence attached to the old Albert Park Basketball Stadium.
It was an ideal setting for young
Andrew to develop his love and passion for sport. In addition to the
basketball, squash, badminton and table tennis facilities on his front door
step, young Andrew was also within a short walk of Harry Trot Oval
and the Albert Park Golf Course. When friends came over, there were
always plenty of sporting options. For many though, it was their
first introduction to the sport of basketball. Basketball in
Australia during the sixties and seventies was a very low profile
sport. Few of Andrew's school friends knew anything about the
game and even fewer had ever played it.
young Andrew Gaze in 1989.
Olympics in Barcelona
Andrew attended Eastern Road
Primary School and then Albert Park High School. Although most of
his school friends chose the more traditional sports of Australian
rules football and cricket, basketball was always going to be
Andrew's chosen sport. Andrew certainly tried other sports but he
always came back to basketball. As Andrew once explained, "To use
a boxing analogy, basketball won out in a no-contest. I'd heard a
lot of stories about the Olympic Games from my Dad and I got the
chance to hang around his teams as a young kid," he said.
"I guess those
influences from an early age inspired me to strive to be an Olympian."
Andrew began playing senior
basketball at the age of 15. He quickly progressed from third
division to second and then first division. In 1982, he was selected
in the Australian Junior team and in 1983, represented Australia at
the Junior World Championships in Spain. Andrew was beginning to
showcase his enormous talent, particularly his ability to read the
play and shoot accurately from either inside or from the perimeter.
Later in 1983, at the age of 18, Andrew was first selected in the
senior Australian squad amid quite a controversy. With Lindsay
coaching the national team, the cries of favouritism were heard
loudly and persistently.
Andrew looks to set up
Andrew in a very familiar
The Year 1984 was to be the
break-out year for Andrew Gaze. Not only did the Melbourne Tigers
make their NBL debut that year, but so too did a tall skinny kid by
the name of Andrew Gaze. Andrew and the Tigers, under coach Lindsay
Gaze, played their first game at Albert Park against the Brisbane
Bullets. Few of the 900 spectators who saw that game realized they
were witnessing the arrival of a future legend of the game. Although
Brisbane ran out winners by 24 points, 94-70, Andrew made quite an
impression scoring 16 points to be equal top scorer for the Tigers
with Russ Dyer. Other Tiger teammates in that historic game
Goorjian (Captain), Nigel Purchase, Ray Gordon and Alan Westover.
Brisbane was coached by Brian Kerle and included an all-star line up
Loggins, Larry Sengstock, Ron Radliff, Robert Sibley and
Mark Bragg. It was the first of many wonderful Gaze clashes with the
Brisbane Bullets and Leroy Loggins in particular.
completed the 1984 season averaging 29.2 points per game and was
awarded the league's MVP Award. Andrew finished the season averaging
29.1 points per game and was named the league's Rookie of the Year.
The young Gaze had made quite an impression during his first season
in the NBL. More importantly, he had
attracted further interest from the Australian selectors who were
looking to name the squad to represent Australia at the Los Angeles
Olympics in late July through to mid August.
named in the 1984 Australian Olympic team which was to be coached once again by
his father Lindsay. This was Lindsay's fourth consecutive Olympic
Games having coached the Olympic team in 1972 (Munich), 1976
(Montreal) and 1980 (Moscow). At the age of 19, Andrew became the
youngest Australian basketballer ever to represent his country at
the Olympics. Although he thoroughly deserved his place on the team,
his selection again caused quite a stir. The cries of nepotism were
once again loud and persistent. Fortunately, Andrew was to silence
with a very creditable performance in Los Angeles. During the
Olympic tournament, Andrew averaged 18 minutes playing time and 10
point per game. Never again would anyone question the selection of
Andrew Gaze in an Australian team.
Andrew never looked back. During the 1980s, his NBL career went from
strength to strength, and he quickly established himself as one of
the premier players in the league. But the best was still to come.
After surviving a life threatening blood clot in 1990, Andrew
returned to the court to establish himself as the undisputed king of
the NBL. His first MVP award came in 1991 and was quickly followed
by a second in 1992. After missing out in 1993, Andrew collected
five consecutive MVP awards from 1994 to 1998.
#10 brings the ball down
There were so
many highlights in the NBL career of Andrew Gaze. For Andrew though,
the NBL Championships with his beloved Melbourne Tigers rank as his
fondest memories. The first came in 1993. After losing the 1992
Championship Playoff against Perth, the Tigers once again lined up
against the Wildcats in the 1993 finals playoff. With the series
tied one all, Melbourne was faced with the bleak prospect of playing
the deciding Game 3 at the Perth Entertainment Centre. Having lost
their first 12 games at this venue, the Tigers somehow managed to
grab a remarkable 104-102 victory against all the odds. Gaze
contributed 22 points in that historic game, well below his season
average of 33 ppg. The sight of Andrew and Lindsay Gaze hugging each
other in those chaotic seconds after the final buzzer sounded,
provided one of the most moving images in the history of Australian
Victory! And a very special moment for
Andrew and Lindsay Gaze
The second victory came in 1997.
The Tigers closed out the South East Melbourne Magic at Melbourne Park in three games. It
was a barn-storming finish for the Tigers who recorded 17 wins from
their last 18 matches, including an NBL record of 16 consecutive
victories. It was a particularly sweet triumph for the Tigers given
that this game was played in Melbourne, in front of thousands of the
Above: Andrew is chaired of the court after his 600th
NBL on 12th January 2005. It followed a victory over the
Another highlight of Andrew Gaze's
NBL career took place on January 12th 2005. When Andrew took the
court against the Adelaide 36ers, he became the first player in NBL
history to notch up 600 games. Before the match, Andrew's mother,
Margaret and wife, Melinda were presented with flowers before Andrew
was congratulated by former AFL legend, Kevin Bartlett and NBL
Commissioner, Rick Burton. Gaze was presented with
a flat-screen Philips television on behalf of the
league. "You're looking at one of the best sportsmen Australia has
ever produced," Burton told the sell-out crowd of 3500 fans.
and final NBL game was played at the Townsville Entertainment Centre
on February 26th 2005. In a 112-100 playoff loss to the Townsville
Crocodiles, Andrew's long and illustrious career finally came to an
end. In that final game, Andrew spent just over 39 minutes on court
and scored 13 points.
In addition to his
NBL career, Andrew distinguished himself in other overseas competitions. In
1989, Andrew played a pivotal role in lifting Seton Hall to the NCAA
Championships where they narrowly lost to Michigan in overtime.
Along the way to the final, the small college from New Jersey upset
both Indiana and Duke, and Andrew collected the West Regional MVP
outstanding season with Seton Hall, Andrew was surprisingly not
drafted by any NBA Club. He was, however, invited to the Seattle
veteran's camp where he was the last player cut by the Supersonics.
Andrew remained philosophical about missing out on his first attempt
at the NBA. In 1993, Andrew joined the Washington Bullets but never
really got a chance to test his skills against the world's best. In
seven NBA games, he only totalled 70 minutes court time, scoring a
total of 22 points.
NBA opportunity came during the 1998-99 season; this time with the
San Antonio Spurs. Gaze was signed by
head coach Gregg Popovich because of his outside shooting ability.
Once again, his opportunities were limited and he had to be content
with a minor role. Although he didn't make the playoff squad, Andrew
was still very much part of the team and he did become the second
Australian ever to win an NBA Championship ring. Luc Longley won
three successive rings with the Chicago Bulls.
"It was great to have been there with
the Spurs, but when I look back on my role with San Antonio,
that year was fairly minimal," Gaze said. "But just being
given the chance to share in that experience, playing
alongside David Robinson and Tim Duncan - to have been in that
locker room and winning the title was something pretty
special. Getting to play in the NBA wasn't such a big step. It
isn't beyond the realms of a lot of Australian kids to play at
that level. The path to getting there is the most difficult
for a player in Australia, but I believe we are developing
players good enough to play at that level."
Andrew Gaze: Spurs 1989-99
In addition to his NBA experience,
Andrew also played very successfully for three seasons in Europe. in
Italy he played for Udine and in Greece, AC Apolon.
Australians though, the fondest memories of Andrew Gaze are of him
wearing the green and gold
number 10. During his illustrious international career, Gaze
played 297 senior games for Australia including five Olympics (1984
Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000
Sydney) and four World Championships (1986
Spain, 1990 Argentina, 1994 Canada and 1998 Greece).
Although he never achieved his dream of an Olympic medal, he and the
Australian team came agonizingly close. On two occasions, 1988 Seoul
and 1996 Atlanta, the team lost a bronze medal playoff and had to be
content with fourth place.
Andrew Gaze leads the Australia team into the main
stadium at the Opening Ceremony of Sydney 2000. It was
one of Andrew's proudest moments in his long career.
Strangely though, one of the greatest highlights of his wonderful
international career would take place off court. Two days before the
2000 Sydney Olympics commenced, AOC chief John Coates informed
Andrew that he had been chosen Australia's flag bearer for the
Opening Ceremony. When asked how he reacted to the news, Andrew
"I cried. I was with Mark Bradtke
in the athletes' village and he cried with me, we collectively had a
cry. The appointment had such an enormous impact on me. It is hard
to describe such a unique emotion - I was just as proud to have been
chosen to represent all the other athletes in such a manner. It is,
without doubt in my mind, the highest honour you can have in
Australian sport, and to do it in front of your home crowd and your
family and friends was very humbling."
As Olympic Team Captain, Andrew proudly led 600 Aussie athletes and
officials into the main stadium in front of 110 000 adoring
spectators and millions of television viewers all around the world.
It was an experience of a life-time.
By the time Andrew retired from
international competition after Sydney 2000, he was the highest
point scorer in Olympic history, and the second highest point scorer
in World Championship history. He was also named International
Player of the Year five times (1990,
The bond between father and son
is something very special